A widow, Olubunmi Kama, has appealed to the Inspector General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to assist her in recovering her late husband’s property from his siblings.
She said her late husband was sick with a chronic ulcer, when his siblings stormed their family home, ‘’forcefully abducted him to an unknown location, confined him and denied the immediate family access to him till he died.’’
In her petition to the police chief through her lawyer, Mrs Kama alleged that her husband, James Kama, died after his siblings, Tochukwu and Chidinma (alias Princess), abducted him for over three months to an unknown location in Abuja.
“Even when our client’s husband died of an identifiable medical condition that defied all known medical and spiritual interventions, on one hand, and due mainly to the horrifying conditions the duo of Princess Kama and Tochukwu Kama subjected him, our client was painfully accused of having a hand in his death and stripped her of all known legal rights associated with her status as a legally married wife and her children denied their legitimate and primogeniture rights,” the petition states.
Mrs Kama, in her petition to the IGP, a copy of which was sent to the NHRC, said she was seeking their intervention and justice.
The widow, in the petition dated September 17, 2020, a copy of which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja, accused her late husband’s siblings of committing sundry criminal acts that traumatised him (deceased), resulting in his untimely death.
“As shocking and disturbing as it may sound and look, our client and her five children were denied the opportunity to give their dear husband and father the last respect during the burial rites at his hometown, Ekoli Edda, Ebonyi State, as his abductors, Princess Kama and Tochukwu Kama, threatened to kill any of them that ventured to attend the burial, a situation that has left them traumatized and writhing in palpable pains till this day,” the lawyer wrote in the petition.
“Our client and her children have been exposed to untold hardship as a result of the intentional killing of their bread winner and the denials, deprivations and conversion of the deceased’s properties, funds and personal effects. It is on record that the abductors took away his Kia Jeep, 1 seater bus, laptops, phones, AC’s (and) three cartons of Dumpreyon,” the lawyer said.
In a separate interview with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja, Mrs Kama alleged that the husband’s siblings abducted him from their family home in Gwarimpa Estate in Abuja on May 27, 2018, and confined him to a secret location where they prevented him from having any contact with her and the children till he died on August 6, 2018.
Since her husband died, Mrs Kama said life in the last two years has been hell for her and her five children.
“Life has become so unbearable for the family since my husband died. When my husband was alive, God blessed our marriage that we did not need to beg. He never allowed me to work. Even the restaurant I was running, he asked me to close it. With his condition, he needed somebody around to take care of him.
“After his death, Tochukwu (alias Tochi) and Chidinma seized and converted all his property to themselves and threw us out of our house in Abuja and ransacked and looted his house in the village. We have been ejected from our accommodation, because we could not pay the rent. It’s just God who is keeping me with the five children,’’ she told our reporter.
She said all her children have dropped out of school.
‘’I cannot afford to pay their school fees. Two of them were given admission to travel abroad to study, but I do not have the means to facilitate their travel documents. The drastic change of life for us is killing, because my husband took good care of his family when he was alive,” she said.
“I want the IGP and the Human Rights Commission to protect my right and those of the children by recovering my husband’s properties from Tochukwu and Chidinma,” she said.
Mrs Kama narrated the story behind her family’s current experience. She said she had five children for her husband, although the late husband’s siblings stated in the burial programme that their brother had six children.
She accused the husband’s siblings of “always trying to cause her separation from her husband, because she was a Yoruba from Ondo State and the husband an Igbo from Ebonyi State.”
Mrs Kama said her late husband was diagnosed with ulcer, which later degenerated to a chronic ailment, resulting in his addiction to a daily dose of pain killers and regular visits to various hospitals for more than 13 years.
In one of such cases, she said, the husband’s condition was so bad that he collapsed and was admitted for three days in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the National Hospital before he could regain consciousness.
After that, the family kept going in and out of various hospitals.
She said when Tochukwu and Princess got to know how bad the husband’s condition was, ‘’they rained curses on her and threatened to deal with her if anything bad happened to their brother.’’
On May 27, 2018, she said, Tochukwu and Princess stormed the house and picked a quarrel with her and her younger sister over her husband’s deteriorating condition.
To avoid any direct confrontation with them, she said she decided to go out of the house for a stroll. On her return, she said they had succeeded in cajoling and deceiving their brother that they were planning to fly him abroad for treatment.
With that, she alleged, they were able to forcefully take him away, after packing all his personal belongings, including a Kia SUV. When the children demanded to know where they were taking their father to, they were reportedly told they would inform them (her, children) later.
For days, Mrs Kama said nobody knew where her husband was held in solitary confinement.
“Nobody, including the children, could reach him, because his two phones were not connecting. Desperate to find their father, the children decided to comb the hospitals in Gwarimpa in search of him and later found him abandoned in one hospital in the area,” she said.
Mrs Kama said the children reported that the condition they saw the father was terrible, as they said he was crying throughout and complaining that he was not given proper attention.
Mrs Kama said one of the accused, Princess, after learning of the visit of the children to their father in the secret hospital “called to accuse her of putting the brother in bondage for over 20 years, and threatened to deal with her anytime she sees her around the brother again.’’
Mrs Kama alleged that she received a similar warning from the second accused, Tochukwu.
On August 7, she said, the driver who has been bringing to the family the updates on the husband’s condition, came to break the news that his boss died the previous day. She said nobody was able to tell the family what happened to him before he finally died.
On hearing the news of their father’s death, Mrs Kama said her two sons requested to be taken to the morgue at the National Hospital to see the father’s remains.
On reaching there, she said Princess had left instructions with the attendants not to allow them to see their father’s corpse, accusing them of being the man’s killers. She said they were in the mortuary ‘’to remove his body parts.’’
Mrs Kama alleged the children were denied the chance of seeing their father’s corpse till he was later buried.
During the burial, she said neither her nor the children were allowed to attend and pay their respects. They were not even acknowledged in the burial programme.
“What contributed most to my husband’s death was their denying him access to his children. They seized his phones. Neither I nor the children could reach him. The few times the children managed to get through to him, they said he was crying that they were not managing him well,” a distraught Mrs Kama lamented.
Despite all what happened, Mrs Kama said she was afraid to report to the police because she knew even if she did, ‘’her in-laws have their ways around the police’’. She said a month after the burial, she demanded a meeting with her late husband’s siblings. She said they rejected such a meeting.
“Apart our being thrown out of our accommodation in Abuja, my husband’s siblings also took over the family house my husband built in his hometown, Ekoli Eda in Ebonyi State, and looted everything,” she said.
IPO confirms petition
The investigating police office (IPO), Anyanwu Cosmos, an Assistant Commissioner of Police and Head of the Homicide Department at the Police Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja, who confirmed receiving the petition from John-Bede Ofoha, counsel to Mrs Kama, told PREMIUM TIMES ‘’the matter was already receiving attention.’’
Mr Cosmos refused to give any further details about what his department has done so far, adding that he was not permitted to talk to the press.
But PREMIUM TIMES gathered that following the petition, one of the accused, Tochukwu, was invited for interrogation. He was later released, pending the completion of the investigation. His sister, Princess, was also invited for the same purpose.
Princess, Tochukwu, speak
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Princess for her reaction to the allegations by Mrs Kama, several calls to her two phones were not answered.
But, a follow-up WhatsApp message sent to her was read by her.
Later, she returned the call to confirm who called. When our reporter identified himself and informed her the purpose of the call, she immediately terminated the call. She did not answer subsequent calls to her phone.
When our reporter contacted Tochukwu, he declined to provide any details saying the matter was already being investigated by the police.
“My brother, that matter you are telling me now is at Force Headquarters (Abuja). They are doing their investigations. We should allow the police to do their investigations. I don’t know why they should be in a hurry. I can assure you I will see the end to this matter. I hope she (apparently referring to the widow) will be ready to face this? Thank you,” he said.
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