Juliana Francis

A missing cashier, Uchechi Joy Nwachukwu, working with  Halim Gas Refilling Plant located in the Toronto area, by Federal Road Safety Commission Junction, Egbu Road, Owerri, Imo State, has been found killed and buried in a shallow grave in her workplace.

Homicide detectives discovered her corpse in the shallow grave following reports from her family that she had been missing for two days.

It was also gathered that after killing Uchechi, her murderers poured acid on her remains.

Uchechi went to work on the 24th of October, 2022 and did not return home. Her decomposing dead body was discovered two days later- following a police investigation, buried in a shallow grave behind a building within the company premises.

Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), a nonprofit organisation, shocked by the gruesome murder of the young lady, called on the Nigeria Police Force for a speedy investigation with a view to unravelling the circumstances surrounding the murder of Uchechi and the secret burial of her dead body in a shallow grave within the premises of her workplace, Halim Gas Refilling Plant, prosecute those responsible for her murder, and ensure adequate compensation to the family.

Uchechi was the last of three girls and the last of the children of Pa Sunday Nwachukwu, 76 and Ma Philomena Nwachukwu, 68 of Eziama community in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area, Imo State.

One of the late Uchechi’s brothers, Mr. Eze Nwachukwu who lives in Lagos, informed RULAAC that the owner of the company who lives oversees had entrusted the running of the company to his sister who collects cash and goes to make payments at the bank on certain days.

The Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, who has been following the incident, said: “Eze said he and all his siblings, including the late Uchechi, had just returned from their village after the burial of their uncle in October. He informed RULAAC that before he returned to Lagos, he had requested his sister Uchechi to do something for him in Owerri. He called her on phone at about 7:23 am on the 24th of October, 2022, to remind her of the thing he had asked her to do and she promised him she would do it.”

Nwanguma further explained: “At about 10:00 am, the next day, he called her again, but her phone was switched off and he suspected that she was afraid to tell him that she had not done what he asked her to do for him. After repeated calls and her phone remained switched off for the whole day, he reached out to his other younger sister who gave her Uchechi’s alternative number.”

When he called her on that other line, it was also switched off. At this point, Eze became apprehensive and had to call Uchechi’s Pastor.

“He pleaded with the pastor to go to Uchechi’s residence and find out what was going on, which he did on the 25th of October 2022.  When the Pastor inquired from Uchechi’s neighbour, they informed him that Uchechi left home on the 24th of October and had not returned. When the Pastor went to the company to inquire, he met a man who identified himself as the manager. The manager told the pastor that Uchechi left the premises of Halim Gas Plant on 24th of October, 2022 with her bag and had not returned,” said Nwanguma.

Convinced that there was a problem, another of Uchechi’s brothers who lives in Owerri went and reported a case of a ‘missing person’ at the Toronto Police Station, Owerri. The case was later transferred to the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID). Detectives from D2 commenced an investigation which led them to the company where after a thorough forensic search, and following traces of blood trail, they discovered the decomposing body of Uchechi buried in a shallow grave within the company’s premises.

The operatives dug up the grave covered with dried leaves with two heavy stones placed on top to conceal it and exhumed the decaying body.

The manager and clerk were arrested and are currently being detained, while two other staff members suspected to be also involved in the conspiracy and murder, including a security guard are at large. The body has since been deposited at a mortuary in Owerri.

Nwanguma noted: “The Homicide Section of the Imo State Police Command is currently investigating the case. The grieving family said they have been cooperating and assisting the police with investigations including providing all the logistic support they have requested to track and arrest the other fleeing suspects and to carry out an autopsy prior to the burial by the family in accordance with their tradition. The family is expecting that the suspects will be charged to court and prosecuted for murder upon the conclusion of the investigation. Since the murder of their daughter, the family laments that the owner of the company simply identified himself as ‘Mr. Halims’’ has called their eldest brother who lives in Owerri only once and has not done anything to assist the police in the investigation of the case or the family in their quest for justice for his murdered staff to whom he entrusted his company. The family demands justice including the prosecution of all those responsible for the heinous crimes, and adequate compensation by the company.”

Nwanguma revealed that RULAAC was in touch with the police authorities in Imo State over this case and has received assurances of prompt, diligent and effective investigation and fair trial of the suspects and adequate compensation to the family of the deceased by the company.



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