An octogenarian, Mrs Cecilia Akpan, from Oku-Abak community in the Abak Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, was recently beheaded on her farm by suspected ritual killers. Her last son, Samuel, 33, tells PATRICK ODEY about the trauma the tragedy had put the family through
Your mother was recently beheaded by suspected ritualists…
Indeed, I am her last child of mother. I am 33 years old and was brought up as a Christian. She was a member of Faith and Bible Ministry but I’m a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I started worshipping there after I got married.
What do you do for a living?
I am a painter and a taxi driver. I do both to make ends meet. I have been doing this for the past six years.
For how long did you live with your mother?
I had been living with her since I was born and I can say I was still living with her until her death because where she lived was close to my place. It took me about 10 minutes to walk to her house.
How did your late mum contribute to your growth and development?
He was everything to me. She was the one that empowered me to go to school. When she became old, she urged me to learn how to trade as she could no longer fund my education at the time. So, she made the suggestion as she could not fund my education again. She insisted I do that to sustain myself. That was how I got to spray painting. But along the line, the spray painting business was no longer sustainable, so I decided to look for a vehicle to use for taxi.
How many children did your late mother have?
She had six children, but one died so there are five of us left.
How did you hear about her death?
On Saturday morning, around 7am or few minutes after 7am, she called me and said she was heading for the farm to harvest cassava. I told her to go and call to tell me when she was done so I could go there with the car to get her and the harvested cassava home. Around 1pm, my phone rang. She called to tell me that she was done harvesting the cassava and that I should come to the farm. She said they were trying to bring the cassava from the bush to the main road and I told her I was on my way.
But not up to 10 minutes later, a boy of about 15 years old that she went to the farm with, to assist her there, called and said I should hurry because something had happened to Mummy.
When I got there, I saw my mother lying in a pool of blood with her head missing. She had been decapitated. I shouted and ran to meet the chief of our community. I narrated everything to him and he directed me to report the matter to the police. The police immediately went to the scene with some youths from the community and took pictures of her corpse. They asked me if I had any clue about anyone who could have done it or suspected anyone and I said no.
Did the boy who was with your late mother see what happened?
The distance from where the cassava was being harvested and the main road was far. The boy was taking the cassava from the bush to the main road. He had taken the first, second and third sets to the main road and was going for the fourth set when he saw my mother’s corpse. He did not see the killers.
How did you feel when you saw her body?
It was a terrible sight to behold but I had to summon up the courage to tell the boy not to do anything but follow me to the community chief’s house.
Has anyone been arrested in connection with your mother’ death?
Yes, the guy that did it has been arrested. He said he was sent by some people to do so, but the police have yet to arrest all the suspects, at least the people he said sent him to commit the crime.
Has he mentioned anyone’s name?
He mentioned a lady’s name and the lady in question is not from this community. She was married into the community while the guy in question is from Delta State but has been living here for some time.
How would you describe the experience?
I was shocked. She was my backbone. She could not go a day without calling me; she called me more than five times every day to ask if I had eaten, if I was okay, how my family was doing and things like that. She had up to 16 grandchildren.
How was the news of your mother’ death broken to your siblings and her grandchildren?
I called and informed them one after the other. When I saw her lying down, I summoned up the courage to call them.
What do you know about the alleged killers of your mother?
Where they kept my mother’s head was the place I was staying before. It was an uncompleted building. I had an agreement with the landlord that I would continue to pay the rent to help in completing the house.
But there was a misunderstanding between the landlord and me along the line, so the landlord said I should move out of the house. I insisted that he should refund my money but he (the landlord) refused to do so until I moved out of the place.
Do you suspect any conspiracy?
I strongly suspect that those people know something about it because the guy who allegedly murdered my mother is not living in that compound. He only goes there to drink. I am very sure that before they took my mother’s head and put it in one of the rooms, they knew something about it. The guy has even mentioned the name of one of them. They put my mother’s head in one of the rooms I stayed before.
How far have the police gone in investigating this matter?
I don’t know the extent to which the police have gone in the matter. It was the investigating police officer at the police headquarters, Ikot Akpana-Abia that called me but he said it was not a matter to be discussed on the phone. He said I should come over. But I don’t have money to go there; that is why you see me spraying a car as I want the owner to come and pay me so that I can go.
What kind of justice do you consider as appropriate?
They should follow the course of the law. The law is there for this kind of offence. But there is nothing that can compensate for my mother’s death. So, whether they jail her killers or kill them, it cannot assuage my pain because I only know what I have missed. I cannot see a mother again and there is no one that can replace her in my life.
It was alleged that she was beheaded for a ritual purpose, has this been established?
The suspect that killed my mother only mentioned some names and the police have not concluded their investigation so we don’t know what the intentions of the killers were. But the guy (that was caught) has opened up to say he was paid N150,000 to bring somebody’s head.
Did you have any premonition of the death of your mother?
Actually, when I went to church about two weeks ago, the pastor told me there was a temptation and that some people wanted me to cry. The pastor went further and asked me to pray about it. So towards the time she was about to die, I felt weak in my spirit.
What was the last conversation you had your mother?
Last Tuesday, she came to my house; she had just finished a 21-day fast called for in her church where she was a prophetess and she told me she was hungry. So I told her to take garri before doing any other thing. So, she took some garri before my wife prepared food for her that day.