Lured from Delta and murdered in Niger State
The shiny, sparkly and splendidly bright young lady was gone too soon, allegedly killed on January 28, this year by her Romeo.
Skeptical family members and friends had dolefully maintained right from the very start that their love affair was like a castle built upon a sandy beach and was doomed. They tenaciously believed that they were star-crossed lovers.
When Miss Ifeanyi Uti left for the university town of Ekpoma in Edo State, where she had just taken a degree in Chemistry on January 11, a grieving Awele had a hunch that all was not well with her dear little sister. Not even a reassuring mobile telephone call on January 28 could cool her nerves. She forced a smile each time she spoke with her on the phone.
Awele’s hands trembled in the early morning of February 6 when she opened her phone and hurriedly read through the text message purportedly sent by the lover-man, Valentine Ala, from nowhere,
announcing the sudden death of Ify in a hotel room in far away Minna, the Niger State capital. It was like a hit from behind.
“Minna! Niger State! What did my kid sister go to do in Minna? Why did Val have to lure my sister to Minna to murder her in cold blood? Why?” she asked, as tears cascaded down her cheeks.
Now, detectives from the Homicide Department of the Delta State Police Command are battling to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the alleged gruesome murder of the Chemistry graduate by Val, who had since vamoosed like a ghost.
A case of ritual killing was suspected, following the mutilation of one of the eyes, but an autopsy report, however, showed that no part of the body was removed.
It was crying time last March in Asaba when she was buried, but her bereaved mother, Mrs. Patience Uti, is still reeling from the shock of the loss of her delectable daughter, the last of her four children. In tears, she passionately pleaded with security operatives to apprehend the fleeing Val from his hiding place and bring him to justice.
Ify reportedly met Val only July last year. Despite the hiccups, tiffs and opposition from friends and family members, the love affair
sizzled. Val was said to be a smooth talker who had Ify knocking on her feet. She was his paradise and he was heard severally vowing to defend and be there for her.
Her mother said several warnings to her daughter by family members and acquaintances to quit the relationship fell on deaf ears.The run away lover’s ways were not straight; he was said to have told the young girl that he was a valiant officer in the Department of State Security (DSS), who had burst several criminal syndicates,particularly kidnapping in Delta State.
To convince his unsuspecting lover, Val, always the showman, was said to have placed a call in the
presence of curious family members, pretending to be on the trail of some goons who abducted a woman in Warri, one hot afternoon.
Although, Ify’s family demonstrated cold feet towards him because of family pressures, Val never relented, as he continued to plot ingenious moves to elope with the girl to carry out his evil intention.
Determined to make a deep impression on his naïve lover, he claimed that his father had secured him a plum job in an oil company in
Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as he was simply fed up with the rough and tumble world of a security man. His intention was to take her to the famed Garden City.
Awele said the family resisted and in frustration, he left Asaba last November, only to resurface in January this year, but was always in
contact with Ify, apparently to keep the fire of love burning.
In hibernation, he perfected his next move.Awele said on January 11, Val called to say that he was on his way to the Utis at Governor Street on Agric road. He used to live on the next street and everybody knew him in the neighbourhood.
She said: “He called me on that day, saying that he had been trying to reach my sister, but her number was not connecting. I told him I had gone to work and he should try and call my mum’s line.“When I came back that night, they told me that my sister had gone to
Ekpoma with Val. I told them he informed me that both of them would be leaving for Ekpoma that morning.
“While supposedly in Ekpoma, we talked regularly on the phone. Two days after she left, she said she needed money, which we sent her.“She also requested for recharge cards and my mum promptly sent her.”
Awele said she spoke with Ify last on January 26. She had complained of poor network at her location, promising to call back when it improved. She implored her uneasy relatives not to panic, as she was having a great time in the safe arms of Val.
That was the last time the family heard from her, as several calls to her cell phone failed to connect afterwards. This created tension
In desperation, they contacted her faithful friends at Ekpoma to assist in locating her whereabouts.
She continued: “I checked her contact notebook, checked my mummy’s phone, because if her phone is down, she usually inserts her SIM card in my mum’s phone and the phone automatically copies some contacts.
“When I checked, I saw Osazu, who was her school friend. I called him, but he told me that he was angry at Ify, because she came to Ekpoma without bothering to contact him, which was very unusual.
“He promised to go to her former hostel and asked of her from friends.”
Curiously, the elder Uti said all along, Val kept calling, asking about Ify, but she told him that Ify’s number had not been going through.
Two days later, her phone rang. It was a calm Val calling to say that he was worried about Ify’s whereabouts. He said he was going
to Ekpoma to check out the missing lady.
Awele advised that she should go to Ivie, Ify’s bosom friend who works at a laboratory and promptly gave him the address of the laboratory, only for him to say he had gone to the laboratory to make
enquiries and was told there was nobody called Ivie there.
Next, she gave him Osazu’s contact, only for him to turn around again that he and Osazu had been moving around Ekpoma, searching for her in vain.
Awele said Val later called to say he was going to his village. Having searched everywhere for her in vain, he had reached the limit of his endurance and so had to take a break.
She recounted: “I decided to call Osazu to confirm if Val was actually in Ekpoma in search of Ify. He answered that nobody came. “I then called Val and told him what Osazu said. He denied ever seeing Osazu in person, but that he only spoke with him on the phone. “I told him that he was contradicting himself and he got angry and ended the call.
“After some days, he sent a text message that he was angry because of the argument and that there was no basis for such argument. Then, he said he will be going offshore and that his number will not be connecting.”
She disclosed that the suspected killer had sometime ago forwarded his phone contacts to her uncle, who warned him to leave Ify alone, because he was not a straightforward man. When she got the contacts from her uncle, she dialed Val’s Glo line, as he had also told her long ago that
whenever he is offshore, it is only the network that connects.
She lamented: “When I called him on the Glo line, he picked but refused to speak. When I dialed him the second time, he answered and I
said, ‘May I speak to Val?’ He responded that it was wrong number.”
The waiting game ended dramatically in the wee hours of February 6.She had suddenly woken up about 4am. Her phone was blinking, indicating that there were unread text messages. She almost froze and fell to the floor, as she read through.
In deep distress, she said: “One of the text messages was from Val. He narrated how he killed my sister and where they went.
“He wrote that he told my sister to follow him to Minna, where he was processing his Master’s degree. He said when they got there, he did not know what happened, but all he could remember was that he was the one that murdered my sister.
“He said he had tried taking an overdose of pills to terminate his own life without success.”At dawn, she hurried to the state Police headquarter and was told to go to A Division, from where the control room at the station contacted
Minna control room.
She said: “He called Minna in my present and they confirmed a case of murder, which they were investigating. That was how we got to know.
“Two days later, my uncle went to Minna, where they showed him the picture of Ify. They took him to the hotel where Ify and Val lodged.”
Awele stated that the family had already petitioned the Delta State Commissioner of Police over the incident, adding that investigation
was being handled by the Homicide Department in Asaba, but that to her knowledge, the culprit was yet to be arrested.
The Delta Police spokesperson, Celestina Kalu, told The Guardian that she was on vacation and was not abreast of the latest development.