By Okey Maduforo
(Special Correspondent, Awka)
Anambra State never ceases to stand out in Nigeria’s public commentary, for good or bad.
At every time in history, the state throws up individuals whose success stories or escapades reverberate for a long time.
While the state has held the ace in producing leading lights in the south east and the nation at large, it has also been tainted by activities of citizens that have engaged in ugly incidences such as armed robbery, kidnapping and bank fraud and other crimes.
These kingpins of various crimes, had always held the indigenes and residents of the state to ransom before meeting their waterloo.
For instance, at the height of abduction in the South East, while the immediate past governor, Peter Obi waged relentless war against insecurity in the area, a young man in his late thirties, emerged as one of the ruthless kidnappers in the state.
The young man whose whereabouts remains unknown till date after his arrest, was widely known as Ofe-Akwu, though his real name was Tochukwu Ifedike.
Ofe-Akwu allegedly had, at the back of his compound, an armoury where plastic drums full of AK47 loaded with double magazines, were allegedly buried.
Security agents also claimed that the armoury had rocket launchers and assault rifles capable of sacking the state.
The police command and other relevant bodies are yet to disclose the whereabouts of Ofe-Akwu even as it is being insinuated that the gory dumping of corpses at Ezu River, years ago, had to do with his confession while in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SAS).
The dust raised by the escapades of Ofe-Akwu and his partners-in-crime was yet to die down when another kingpin from the state, took centre stage in faraway Lagos state.
This time, one Chimdumeje Onwuamadike, a.k.a Evans was arrested over high profile kidnapping that saw victims paying huge sums, often in hard currency for their freedom. Most of his victims were wealthy people from his area. Evans is still in Police custody helping the police to unravel all that were associated with him criminally.
Certain coincidences trail these kingpins.
Ofe-Akwu, for instance, is from Orifite-Ekwusigo local government Area, while Evans hails from Nnewi in Nnewi North Local government Area which shares boundaries with Ekwusigo.
Today, another kingpin on the spot, who goes by the name Bishop, is from the state.
The man, Aloysius Ikegwuonu a.k.a Bishop is alleged to be into drug business. Interestingly, he is 36 years old just like Evans and Ofe Akwu.
In the last one week, Bishop has been in the news or should we say, has been the news, though Police investigation so far, has not linked him to the killing of worshippers on Sunday, August 6 at St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu.
When this TheNiche visited the family home of Ikegwuonu during the week, most of his kinsmen could not open up about his background. Those who offered to talk, pleaded anonymity.
Born in 1981, Bishop attended Comprehensive Secondary School, Egbema Ozubulu where he became Senior Prefect before graduating.
He also had his primary school education in Ozubulu. He could not further his studies at the tertiary level.
It was reported that he travelled to South Africa in 2001 and just a year after, he became stupendously rich.
Locals link his sudden wealth to the death of his mother. Bishop and his late father had however dismissed the allegation of his sacrificing his mother for rituals.
Bishop has a step-mother who escaped the bullets of the gunmen in the Sunday August 6 incident, by the whiskers. Reports indicate that she is responding to treatment.
Aside the allegation of possibly sacrificing his mother for rituals, other tales trail Bishop’s success story in South Africa. This is especially as his colleagues in the same business are said to have been surprised on how he became too rich within one year of getting into town.
One of the allegations against him is that of performing rituals at a disputed Park (drug territory) in South Africa that preceded the killings in Ozubulu.
The allegation had it that he performed rituals and was videoed bathing at the centre of the park at the supervision of fetish doctors.
Shortly after that, his business blossomed, it was alleged. That, it was reported, elicited the envy and anger of his colleagues against him.
There are also misgivings on the mysterious death of his childhood friend and classmate, Ginika Nwoke from Mbaise, Imo state.
Ginika had to drop out of school while he was a second year psychology student in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka due to pressure from Bishop to join him in South Africa.
The death of Ginika in South Africa was linked to Bishop who had allegedly accused him of duping him.
The matter could not be resolved at the traditional ruler’s palace in Ozubulu, it was learnt.
Shortly after the reconciliation exercise, Ginika Nwoke died. Bishop was the prime suspect but he denied being involved.
Unconfirmed reports also said another of Bishop’s boy from Enugu State who served him for nine years died suddenly after Bishop was pressured to settle him.
The claim is that the Enugu boy who was the arrowhead of Bishop’s business in South Africa was accused by Bishop of appropriating his clients because he was doing very well in his own business to the envy of his master shortly after he settled him. That, allegedly, did not go down well with Bishop.
Some are alleging that those who came to attack the Ozubulu Church may be friends and associates of the Bishop’s Enugu boy who have been looking for a way to revenge his brutal killing which they say bother on envy.
It is believed the latest incident was a spill over from previous dangerous business deals in South Africa involving Bishop and his associates that went soar.
The suspected kingpin is also linked to cultism. For instance, he is suspected to be a member of the Black Axe Fraternity. On the other hand, those that carried out the church massacre were said to be members of a rival Two-Two-Confraternity.
Though reports had it that Bishop traveled to either South Africa or Owerri on the eve of the Sunday attack, it is whispered in some quarters that after the massacre he left for an unknown place in Lagos where he was believed to be making contacts on his next moves.
Consequently, while confusion surrounding the Sunday attack reigns, unconfirmed reports had it that four persons from Ozubulu have been gunned down in South Africa as a reprisal for the attack.
It is not clear if Bishop was behind the killings but the victims were linked to the cabal that attacked Ozubulu last Sunday, with some people claiming that more persons are on the firing lane from all the business camps involving Bishop and his associates in South Africa.
That police are still investigating may not be new, particularly as there are indications of Bishop’s cordial relationship with the highest level of police leadership in the South East.
Cognizance of that, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has queried the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 9, Umuahia, Hosea Karma, asking him to provide detailed information on what he knows about Bishop for the period Karma has been superintending over the police in the South East zone with head office in Umuahia.
Idris himself is under pressure from the Presidency to urgently write a report on the incident that would help the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to take an informed decision on what happened in Ozubulu recently with a view to preventing future occurrence.
Force Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Moshood Jimoh neither picked his calls nor responded to test messages sent to him by TheNiche
on the unfolding drama with regard to police investigation.
The Federal Government, TheNiche learnt, is conscious of Nigeria’s diplomatic relationship with South Africa where claims of business deal involving Bishop and the suspected attackers may have emanated from.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State said much on the dramatis personae involved in the so-called attack while responding to reporters questions on Monday, August 7.