Boko Haram killed Igbo trader, alleged he was DSS informant – Friend
41-year-old Ifeanyi Elechukwu was based in Kano, selling batteries at Sabon Gari before he was shot to death by Boko Haram members on September 24. His associate, Oko Nelson, who witnessed the tragic moment, tells GODFREY GEORGE about it
What was your relationship with Ifeanyi Elechukwu, the battery dealer that was recently shot dead in Kano?
We were associates. In fact, he was a family member, because we are from the same clan and village. That is all I would love to say for security reasons. We did business together for years. I run an auto mechanic outfit in the South-East and some other places in the country. I used to buy some things from him; so, we were kind of close.
How old was he when he died?
He was 41. I remember it was not too long after we celebrated his birthday. I even sent him some money. It is so shocking to learn that he has passed away. I never expected it. He was not sick; he was killed by Boko Haram men who thought he was an informant of the Nigerian Army.
How do you mean?
I was told he had a business transaction with those men of the underworld unknown to him. They bought some batteries from him. You know batteries are used to make IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), which are used as explosives to cause harm. So, he allegedly sold batteries to them, not knowing that they were terrorists; he thought it was a normal transaction. He was paid in cash. He issued them a receipt and that was it. I got to know all of this much later when he had an issue with the Department of State Services after the Sabon Gari bomb blast a few months ago.
What issue did he have with DSS?
It was about the batteries he sold to those terrorists. It seemed that through investigation and intelligence the DSS traced the remains of the batteries used in creating the bomb to Ifeanyi. You know after that bombing, which affected a nursery school and killed an unspecified number of people, the DSS began searching to fish out the culprits. That was how Ifeanyi was arrested secretly and detained by the DSS.
For how long was he detained by the DSS?
I don’t want to talk about that for my safety, please. He was arrested by the DSS and questioned and he told them exactly what happened. I spoke to him after he was released. He narrated everything to me. I was so scared. I told him to run away from Sabon Gari for a while but I cannot tell why he didn’t leave until these Boko Haram guys visited him again; this time, they killed him.
Was he tortured by the DSS?
I don’t want to talk about that.
How was he killed?
I was close by when it happened. I heard a round of gunshots, about three or four gunshots, and then the vehicle drove away. I ran for safety just like everyone else. Later on, when the dust had settled, I was told that a man came to buy batteries and told the sales boy to go call his Oga (boss) inside. The boy went in to call Ifeanyi, who was with another young man. Ifeanyi told the sales boy to usher the customer in, not knowing he was ushering in his death. The battery buyer, a disguised Boko Haram member, came in and shot him thrice. He also shot the other young man who was with Ifeanyi, for trying to fight back. Ifeanyi died on the spot from excessive bleeding and trauma. The other man was rushed to the hospital.
ISIS and ISWAP took responsibility for the killing. What do you think motivated their action?
I learnt they claimed that while Ifeanyi was in the DSS custody, he gave some information to the DSS, which led to the arrest of some of those terrorists. I don’t know how true that was though. He was my brother. I knew him as a spare parts dealer with shops in Sabon Gari. If he was an informant for security agents, he never disclosed it to me.
Is it true that Ifeanyi’s wife is an air force officer?
I wouldn’t want to go into that. He has a family and he has children who are mourning him. I am a family member, and I am mourning his passing. His mother is still alive. We haven’t told her, but as I speak to you, with the way the news is going, I am sure she must have heard about it.
Has Ifeanyi been buried?
I don’t want to talk about that either.
What kind of a person was he?
He was someone I would call a ‘paddy man’. He was full of life. I would buy things from him and pay later. He was a core businessman. He was not really educated. He set up his spare parts business after serving a boss for many years. I know the story. If I start to talk about the suffering Ifeanyi went through in life before becoming successful, you will weep for him. He was just 41. He had not even started life at all. His killers will know no peace. They will suffer as he suffered.
What will become of his business now?
For now, it is under lock. The family wants to mourn properly before we begin to talk about that. It was this same business that killed him. He was the breadwinner of his family. The loss is irreplaceable. His loss would be felt by everyone. Ifeanyi was a good man. We used to go home together for Christmas and New Yam. We even had plans for this year. We are in a cooperative together. We had agreed to use the money to do something for the people back at home. Look at everything now. Everything is gone! Gone!
What are the family’s demands in this matter?
There are a lot of things I know about this case that Ifeanyi told me after his release from the DSS custody that I would not want to share here. I appeal to all the intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of my brother’s death. The very method they used to get and arrest him, they should use the same to get his killers. The killers are still in Sabon Gari. They are not ghosts. They drove a bike. One drove a car. I was close when it happened. I just want justice for him. A promising, young man should not be allowed to die just like that.
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