Mrs. Helen Ilonge, Primary Health Care Coordinator in Bekwara Local Government Area of Cross River State and a widow with five children, has been allegedly murdered by suspected ritualists, who cut some of her private parts off for alleged ritual purposes.
Mrs. Ilonge, who lost her husband about twelve years ago, was kidnapped last week while returning from a church programme at Assemblies of God, Abakaliki, in Ebonyi State, to her Ukpe village, along Ikom-Ogoja Highway and was subsequently beheaded.
Speaking on the matter, Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Osita Ezechukwu, said about four persons have been arrested by the anti-homicide unit, adding that when investigations were completed, the suspects would be prosecuted.
“We have taken confessional statement from them. Those who are not involved have been allowed to go while those who are involved are still in detention,” he said.
An okada rider in Bekwara identified as Ifeanyi alias koboko is one of the suspects arrested by the police. He was said to have been paid N10, 000 by a suspected ritualist whose name was given as Elvis Okumo. He allegedly beheaded the nurse and severed other vital reproductive parts including breast.
It was gathered that 51-year old Mrs Ilonge met Ifeanyi who had allegedly been contracted by the ritualist to supply vital parts of a woman and he was said to have taken the lady from Okpogrinya Junction on the pretence that he was taking her to Igoli, Ogoja, her destination, some ten minutes’ drive from the point but along the way stopped and handed her over to the kidnappers at Ukpe.
According to the victim’s neighbor, Mrs. Theresa Idagwu, the late Mrs. Ilonge “called her daughter Victoria Agah at about 9 pm that she was at Okpogrinya junction that she was taking a cyclist to Igoli and that when she gets to Igoli, she would call again so that she (Victoria) can boil water for her because she was cold following the rain which has been falling all day and she was drenched-that was the last call.”
Mrs. Idagwu alleged that was the last they heard of her until two days later when a call came through from the kidnappers demanding for a ransom of N50,000 which should be sent through MTN and GLO recharge cards.
“We looked everywhere, in police stations, hospitals and even her friends in Igoli, thinking that maybe an accident had occurred along the road but we got nothing,” she said.
When her daughter could not raise the money for the recharge cards, she rushed to the Bekwara council headquarters where the head of administration, Mr. Bisong Bogbo and the chairman of council Mr. Linus Edeh provided the money sent to the kidnapers.
The Bekwara Council Head of Administration, Mr. Bogbo said, “Initially they said they were at Ishi Eke near Abakaliki. The voice claimed that he needed the recharge so he could sell and run away from the master who was a ritualist whom he has been serving for a long time and was tired. He said once he gets the cards he will break the door where the nurse was kept and release her.”
According to him, after the cards were sent to the kidnaper by the daughter, the kidnapper called to say he was going to confirm if the cards were genuine but after that his phone was switched off.
However after hours of panic and anxiety, we later heard that the woman was cut in pieces and it was the tracking device that located the place of the voice to be in Abuochiche and some people confirmed that Ifeanyi was selling MTN and GLO recharge cards.
The two suspects arrested; Ifeanyi and the mastermind of the kidnap, Elvis according to Bogbo confessed that the woman had already been butchered after Ifeanyi collected the recharge cards and her other remains buried in a swamp.
He said “The thing is that, the woman was wasted because the oracle they took her head and private parts to rejected them and were thrown away.”
Police sources say the suspects would be prosecuted as soon as possible.