Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finally, Ekene Ezeokenwa buried

At last, Ekene Ezeokenwa buried, but another Ekene missing since Apr

The late Mr. Ekene Ezeokenwa, who died in Cotonou, Benin Republic on 23 May, 2011 was finally buried in his home town, Awka-Etiti in Anambra State on Friday, 24 June.

The late man’s survivors had to part with close to N250,000 as payment for sundry bills before collecting the body on Wednesday, 22 June; from Morgue de l’Hopital de la Mere et de l’Enfant, Lagune (HOMEL); the mortuary in the Tokpa Hoho neighbourhood, where the corpse was deposited since Ekene’s transition.

The Nigerian, earlier suspected to have been heavily drugged, died around 6pm on Monday, 23 May; while receiving treatment at Centre de Sante Al-Faycal (Al-Faycal Health Centre) in the economic capital of Nigeria’s next-door neighbour to the west.

It could be recalled that the local Nigerian community had sought logistic support from their country’s mission in Cotonou with a view to burying the victim in the Benin economic capital, in the event that no one came forward to collect the dead man’s remains. But, that plan was shelved; after someone turned up on 31 May and identified himself as the dead man’s sibling.

According to Mr. Tony Ezeokenwa, who identified himself as an elder brother of the deceased; Ekene Ezeokenwa died at age 25 and was one of only two sons of his parents. Sadly, too; he died childless as he was still single.

Tony went to Cotonou and contacted Chief Elendu, President, Cotonou Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), after reading our report of the tragedy in Daily Sun (Travels) and on

Tony revealed the late Ekene hailed from Ejinandu Village of Awka Etiti in Idemili South Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra State. Tony, who said he is currently resident of Olisanuma Compound in Egbumunnam, Otolo-Nnewi; gave the names of their parents as Leonard and Cecilia.

A letter addressed to the Charge d’Affaires, Nigerian Embassy, Cotonou by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), informed; inter alia: “On Monday, 23 May 2011, around 3pm, men of Benin Safeur Pompier came to our office that they picked an Igbo man who had an accident at La Roche roundabout in Akpakpa. The victim was only able to say he was from Awka Etiti, Anambra State, but he did not speak again”.

That same memo, dated 24 May, 2011 and signed by Cotonou’s NIDO Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Michael A. Orji; added: “In a bid to save his life, our President, Chief Emmanuel Uko Elendu, quickly doled out money and directed his personal assistant to take the sick man to a nearby hospital. The victim was taken to Centre de Sante Al-Faycal, Missebo. We called the Consular Officer of the embassy and notified him of the incident”.

Sadly, however, the patient died some three hours later, while undergoing treatment. After the victim breathed his last, Nigerian community members arranged to have his photograph taken before the body was deposited at the morgue. NIDO Cotonou members had subsequently circulated the deceased’s picture around Missebo Market and Sekandji Motor Garage for possible identification.

It is worth noting that mysteries shroud the final hours of this victim and the man’s eventual death. For example, if the man had suffered an accident; the local emergency service (Sapeur Pompier) operatives ought to have rushed him to a hospital for immediate medicare, instead of taking him to NIDO office.

In the same vein, respondents who spoke with us, wondered; if truly, any accident occurred at La Roche roundabout: for, no vehicle was mentioned in connection with the unidentified man’s predicament. Moreover, there is usually noticeable police presence at that roundabout; and, since no ID was found on him, how did Sapeur Pompier personnel determine his nationality?

If the man was identified as a Nigerian by the Igbo that accompanied Sapeur Pompier officials to NIDO office, then; why is the other man now at large? Additionally, it is highly unlikely that an Igbo trader would have no telephone; so what happened to this man’s onyenekwu?

Is it possible that his handset could provide some clue to unravelling this tragedy; then, what happened to his GSM set? Many questions in deed; sadly, all efforts to get to the root of this tragedy have thus far only drawn a blank.

Subsequent probes by mauricearchibongtravels confirmed that officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou had been informed and brief of ongoing developments. In response, the local Nigerian mission had drafted memos to be despatched to Abuja, and letters had also been written to be circulated to relevant police divisional officers, Interpol and so on.

Investigations carried out by the office of President, Cotonou Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) indicate an okada rider had phoned the local emergency services after he witnessed a man, earlier walking ahead of him; suddenly slump and lay on the ground convulsing. This was on Monday, 23 May; and, when emergency services personnel got to the scene, one of them had dialed the number from which a call was put to their office. The okada rider that had called Safeur Pompier was still in the crowd of onlookers gathered around the sick man; and, had stepped out to narrate what he had seen.

At the same spot, a member of the local congregation of a Celestial Church near La Roche roundabout had told Sapeur Pompier officials that the man had been seen in chains and bare-chested inside their house of worship the previous day. When contacted, church elders had confirmed the victim was on their premises Sunday till Monday, and that they had thought another member had brought the man there for spiritual healing.

They claimed that the man had kept mummuring, intermittently, uninteligible sentences in English and Igbo languages, while there. Aside his monologues, the man; they further alleged, had acted in ways that created fear. When, at the end of the evening’s service the bare-chested man was still roaming the premises; and, there was no sign that anybody was coming to take him away, he was consequently bound in chains to avoid a situation, where the perceived sick man could cause harm to other people.

Cele members further submitted that the victim had rejected a top to protect him from cold the previous night; and, that he had also turned down an offer of food from a female member that night. The following morning, seeing that nobody had come for the man and that his situation was worsening; and, fearful that they would be in trouble should the man die on their premises; church elders decided to send the fellow out of their compound.

It remains unclear how the sick man was ejected; and, questions would be asked why the Celestial Church leaders did not call in state health services since the man was ostensibly unwell. In any case, it is believed that the man slumped shortly after leaving the Celestial Church compound.

Curiously, too; instead of the rescuers taking the sick man to a health centre, they had carried him to Missebo Market in search of NIDO Cotonou office. There, after a search; they had found a French-speaking Igbo youth, who led them to the office of the NIDO president. Through immediate moral and financial support from Chief Elendu, the victim had been rushed to Centre de Sante Al-Faycal (Al-Faycal Health Centre).

Meanwhile, another Ekene missing
A 27-year-old female student of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) has called to say her brother, Ekene Njoku (25), has been missing for over 3 months.

“Three months ago, Ekene told us he was travelling to Cotonou; but, nothing has been heard from him, again”; the caller (names withheld), who said she was speaking from Deeper Life Road, Enugu; lamented.

The caller said she was moved to seek clarifications from us after reading our report of the corpse of an unidentified Nigerian that is lying unclaimed in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

She was referring to an unknown dead man, later identified as Ekene Ezeokenwa; who died in Cotonou last 23 May. Her missing brother, she added, is not only namesake of the dead man; but, also looks like him, going by the picture of Ekene Ezeokenwa, which was web-posted on

According to this IMT student, who gave her parents’ residential neighbourhood as New Haven, Enugu; her missing brother claimed to be a trader doing business in Cotonou. It was, however, gathered that the exact nature of his enterprise was not known.
-         By MAURICE ARCHIBONG, just back from Cotonou.

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