The traditional ruler of Umueze Community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Opara, has been arrested by the Imo State Police Command, for reportedly killing a 25-year-old IMSU graduate, Uchenna Opara a.k.a Junior on Wednesday. Punch gathered that the ugly incident occurred around 6.15pm at the community’s primary school playground, which pushed the youth of the community to set the Monarch’s palace ablaze.
An oil mill belonging to the monarch, which was a stone’s throw from the palace, was also caught up in the torching operation carried out by the youths, which destroyed the suspect’s Nissan car.
Speaking to newsmen, Bethel Iwuoha, said the 2017 graduate of Library and Information Science of the Imo State University, Owerri, was shot on the chest after one of the monarch’s security guards, Atuonye Opara, allegedly cocked the pump-action rifle while the monarch allegedly pulled the trigger.
Junior was rushed to a police clinic at Amakaohia where he was confirmed dead, as the Monarch and his security aide hurriedly entered a car and fled the scene.
Bethel who accused the Monarch of using his guards to intimidate indigenes of the community, said the incident occurred after the community’s youths who made use of the playground for their football training, protested that the son of the monarch, Temple Opara, could not take over the field with a football team he brought from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, without informing the youths who had been cleaning the pitch for a long time.
He said the Prince then gave the youths N10,000, which infuriated the monarch who demanded that the money be handed over to him (Eze).
“While we were training on Wednesday evening, the traditiaonal ruler, who was returning in his car with Atuonye, reversed and headed for the pitch. They both alighted from the car and started shouting at us.
“The monarch said we were challenging his authority in the community. While he was shouting, his security guard went into the car and brought out the pump-action rifle.
“The monarch took the gun and wanted to shoot us, but his personal assistant attempted stopping him. It was in the course of struggling with his PA that a bullet went out and hit Junior on the chest. The traditional ruler, out of fear of attack from the youths, abandoned the gun and fled,” the youth leader said.
At the family compound of the slain graduate, his father, Franklin Opara, a retired customs officer, said it was the monarch that killed his son.
“Junior was supposed to proceed on his National Youth Service Corps programme in March 2017, when he was killed. I was with him a few hours before he went to the field. He was not just my first son, but my first child. I call on the government to give me justice. My son cannot die in vain,” he added.
The state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, who confirmed Eze’s arrest further disclosed that the murder weapon has been recovered.
He said, “We have moved in to restore normalcy. We are in touch with the community leaders, including the Deputy Governor of the state, Eze Madumere.
“As I speak with you, the Owerri area command has moved in with operatives to ensure there is no more breakdown of law and order in the community. It was the murder that precipitated the arson. It is a case of murder and investigation is ongoing.”