Are You Our Brother’s Keeper?
THIS troubling question has been on our mind every day over the last two and half years that God has granted breath and life to us: Where on this earth is our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba? We have not given up; and would never, at least not until we have logical answers to our inquiry. We have cried; we have prayed; and we are still full of hope, because we are believers and much as Jesus the Christ had admonished us. Like Mary had asked on that faithful morning of resurrection day, as recorded in the Book of John 20:15, so we ask: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
It is not a secret that we are hurting. This vicious, man-made agony has inflicted untold toll on us, during the past 31 months of utter hell. Contrary to the expectations of the perpetrators of this heinous crime, our heads may be bloodied but yet it remains unbowed. Here is the inscrutable dilemma: To go missing, inexplicably, in any part of Nigeria today, is becoming an ironic civic duty that honest Nigerians ought not to owe their nation. The filial pain is inexplicable, not just to the wards and siblings of the victim, but also to the community that cherished the honesty and selflessness of the one to whom harm has been wrought. The time is now to arrest this peculiar vicious circumstance that is unraveling the public safety net. No one, anywhere and anymore, has to become another statistic for this absurd reality.
The abduction of our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba, on August 26, 2012 at Amaraku in Isiala Mbano LGA of Imo State, was reported to all law enforcement agencies as well as government entities. It was well publicised by the mass media outlets. At the time of the dastard act, he was a permanent secretary in the Imo State Civil Service (in line to become the Imo State Head of Service) as well as the Principal Secretary to the then Deputy Governor of Imo State, Mr. Jude Agbaso and Principal Secretary in the Government House, Owerri. As expected, the kidnapping was brought to the attention of his employer, the Imo State government since he was a ranking official. Instructively, Mr. Agbaso’s boss, Governor Rochas Okorocha knows, and probably still remembers, that this disappearance is highly suspicious just like many in the government as well as a large swath of Imo populace and organisations.
A God-fearing, celebrated licensed architect and alumnus of the University of Nigeria, our brother believed and advocated for honest dealings. Everyone attests that he served his community, government and country with transparent commitment and honesty but that his country and its government have failed him. It is now well over two and half years since he was forcefully taken away. But why he is still being held, without trace and incommunicado, since then is puzzling and suggestive. An incident that happened just before his 29th year of meritorious service to the Imo State government still lingers, even after he attained the retirement age without being accounted for. Emenike and family have been denied the joy and pomp of a peaceful retirement as well as a thanksgiving to God for a fruitful career milestone.
In every community or nation where decency is the norm, and professionalism and transparent honesty are encouraged, Emenike Ihekwaba, and others like him, would have been accorded the due protections of the State. In fact, in such a clime, the government, especially that of Imo State where he served with distinction all his life — would have been committed to, and piloted his rescue. Regrettably, this has not happened. And this telling lapse, wittingly or unwittingly, may have given rise to the persisting suspicion of the potential knowledge or involvement of elements in very powerful positions.
Regrettably, there are still distressing questions that remain unanswered: What does the Imo State Government know and when did it know about the present whereabouts of our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba? At the time of the abduction of our brother, Mr. Baba Adisa Bolanta was Commissioner of the Imo State Command (but now an Assistant Inspector General of Police), and the command allegedly investigated it while Mr. Bolanta made public press statements suggesting that the whereabouts of Emenike Ihekwaba was known. Pray, why is our brother still missing in spite of the radio/television pronouncements of the Imo State Government and the Imo Police Command at the stated time? The pronouncements were published in The Sun and The Guardian newspapers of November 1st and 2nd, 2012 respectively, as well as broadcast in the radio/television media nationally and locally in Imo State. Since those public statements implied and vowed their resolve to effect Emenike’s imminent release, why the lingering delay? The former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed D. Abubakar received another representation concerning this case sometime in 2014 and reportedly constituted an investigating team prior to his recent retirement. Why is it that each time an investigation is allegedly done, concerning this matter, the findings get shrouded in secrecy and mystery? A planted news report was once made a couple of months ago in one of the newspapers to sway and misdirect us but that effort failed.
It is rather curious that after our family members made several attempts, locally and at Abuja, to find a resolution to this nightmare, high ranking religious leaders of note and several stakeholders of reach in Nigeria intervened by inquiring into this suspicious abduction but, regrettably, all such efforts were reportedly fruitless. Those who should know are keeping their silence! We find it distressing and vexatious that those who spirited away our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba in Imo State, are still walking around as free persons and probably occupying powerful positions. Why they would rather this unlawful act persist is without fathom and is even more troubling. We have asked around and cannot find answers to our dilemma. We implore the public to come to our aid.
In the intervening time, we have sought solace and comfort in the testaments of local folks that our brother, as a high-ranking government official in Imo State, professed piety both in private life and at his duty post. Could it then be that he may have become victimized as belief clashed with duty? In such imponderable circumstance, we are fearful that the perpetrators may feel that they have gotten away, perhaps with official protection, as at this time. As in life, and in many circumstances, anonymity is only temporary. Instances like this, where a ranking government official disappears, create civic doubt and compromises public policy implementation. It highlights the absence of gubernatorial fortitude even where the constitution demands enforcement and justice, more so with the governor as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the State.
We believe that our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba, will not remain missing for forever. For all intents and purposes, this type of brazenness pokes a soiled finger in the eye of law and order. It challenges the basic notion of civic responsibility, and makes the government and its law enforcement agencies appear weak and compromised. As the perpetrators may have acted in this hideous manner perhaps to hide something, but they can never get rid of this dastardly bone in their throat. We remain steadfastly resolute in our quest to find answers and a resolution to this nightmare. We implore the public and persons with conscience to come to our help as we seek answers to the many questions we have. And it is clear and simple: that we want our brother, Emenike Ihekwaba home.
Engr. Chike Ihekwaba, Prof. Ola Nnadi, Dr. Nzeribe Ihekwaba and Mr. Okezie Ihekwaba are siblings of Emenike Ihekwaba, and members of the victim’s family from Nkwerre, Imo State.