A suspect (name withheld) who personally surrendered self, for fear of Ekwanya wrath, has allegedly revealed the involvement of one Elagbaje, (Ambulance Service Provider) and others in the murder case of Paul Ejembi in Ai-Odu Owukpa community in Ogbadibo LG of Benue State on 26 December 2020.
The Kaduna State-based businessman was murdered in his village and set on fire in his Toyota Corolla car while returning home from a marriage ceremony along Ukwo-Ai Odu road by suspected hired killers.
AFRIPOST, contrary to an earlier report that the assassins traced their victim from Kaduna to his village where he travelled to, for burial of his late step-mother, gathered that the killing was allegedly masterminded by an Ambulance serviceman popularly called ‘Elagbaje’ in the community.
Elagbaje vowed to retaliate a previous physical assault on him by Peter Ejembi, elder brother to the assassinated Paul over an Ambulance Service disappointment, our source alleged.
AFRIPOST gathered that Elagbaje was contacted for Ambulance service by the Ejembi family to repatriate the corpse of their wife, mother and step-mother to the neighbouring Ichama community in Okpoga, Okpokwu LGA. Elagbaje could not meet up as agreed on the burial day which was on December 22, 2020.
The family was said to have paid community youths for what they had allegedly settled with Elagbaje to take the corpse to Ichama from Ai-Odu Owukpa. On return from the burial, they put calls across to the Ambulance man and gave him three days to refund the money paid to him for the service.
However, an argument ensued between the family members who went to meet with Elagbaje to demand the refund of the payment to him when he (the Ambulance man) agreed to refund only four thousand naira (N4,00.00) to the family without remorse while the family insisted on getting the refund of the full payment made to him. At this point, Peter was said to have been provoked by the non-remorse attitude of Elagbaje and slapped him in the face. Other concerned persons around intervened and separated the fight and pleaded with the aggrieved family to let go of the demand for the refund of the payment for avoidance of imminent trouble.
Notwithstanding, in variance with the settlement for peace sake, right on the spot, Elagbaje who is of Igala origin but settled in Owukpa allegedly said it was the first time any man dared slapped him in the community and, therefore, vowed to revenge while dismissing calls on him to be remorseful and apologise to the bereaved family for the disappointment caused to them.
Barely four days after the incident, Paul who was not even part of the members of the family that went to see Elagbaje but probably because his car was used, was accosted on his way back from a wedding ceremony he attended in Ekere Owukpa. Elagbaje allegedly sent the assassins to mount a roadblock at Ai Odu hill and ambushed the unsuspecting victim. On sighting his car coming, the assassins, in their unconfirmed number, came to the road, stopped his car and shot at him in the leg at first. Paul was unlucky to have allegedly identified one of the killers who later shot him dead and set him ablaze in his car to cover up the atrocity, though a passerby saved his body from being burnt in the car which was razed down by fire.
Confirming the incident, the victim’s elder brother, Peter, who actually had the confrontation with the prime suspect said, “Paul was killed along Ukwo – Ai Odu road on the 26 December while returning from a marriage ceremony.
“We all came home for the burial of our stepmother but this is what later happened.
“The secret of how and why Paul was murdered was revealed by one of the assassin’s accomplices following invocation of a popular deity, Ekwanya, in the community to go after everyone who, directly or indirectly, was involved in the gruesome murder of my brother.
“A young man (name withheld), in a bid to escape the wrath of the dreaded Ekwanya deity surrendered to the family and narrated that he was in the meeting where Elagbaje allegedly commissioned the murderers who were all members of our community to carry out the abominable act in the land. He mentioned all their names. Some of the suspects have fled the community already. His reason for sending the killers, according to the suspect, was because of the confrontation I had with him over the disappointment he gave to us which we expected him to apologise and refund our money.
“Following the reliable tips, men of the Nigerian Police from Orokam Outstation have apprehended Elagbaje and others who have since been transferred to the State CID in Makurdi for further interrogations and investigation while intensifying efforts to arrest the fleeing members of the killer gang. However, I don’t have details of the level of Police investigation into the incident now because it’s one of my brothers who is following up the case”.
As at the time of filing this report, it is not yet clear if Elagbaje has confessed to the crime before the Police.
All efforts to contact the PPRO of Benue State Police command proved abortive as her cell phone was constantly not reachable.
Until his death, Paul Ejembi was a Building Materials Dealer in Kaduna State.