She’s also had brain, for business and politics. A professional caterer with sublime skills, her business interests had expanded into oil marketing and she did raise her outfit, DZ Wins Company Limited, Aba, to a notable brand. And she wanted to become a legislator in Abia State. But she died. She died a few months away from tying the nuptial knot with her heartthrob, Ray, who lives abroad.
Zainab died on October 5 last year in controversial circumstances. She died in the office of a Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in Aba. Her ugly story started after a political meeting, in connection with her ambition of representing Aba North State Constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly. She had got a call to come to Cameroun Road Police Barracks, Aba, to see the then Division Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Kabir A. Ishaq, a Superintendent of Police (SP). She did not leave the DPO’s office alive.
Since last year October till date, nobody has been docked for her death. Also, nothing has been said about her burial, as her corpse has remained in the mortuary. And her family is worried. Also, members of the family of the late Mazi Peter Uwakwe of Amakpor autonomous community, in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, are alleging plot to swept the incident under the carpet.
Zainab’s younger sister, Favour Nkechi Peter, said that the DPO, in whose office the lady died, has been transferred to Katsina State. She also alleged that other officers who were at the police station when the incident happened have been transferred to other police formations.
With tears rushing down her cheeks and voice quaking in palpable pains, Favour told the story of the shocking death of her sister: “October 5, 2010 will forever remain fresh in my memory. That day, I left for work in the morning and came back at about 6.00pm only to discover that my sister was not yet at home. It was unusual because she rarely stayed out beyond 6.00 pm. So, I called her telephone numbers some minutes after 6.00 pm, to know what was keeping her from coming home, but she didn’t pick her calls. After some minutes, I called her again, but got no answers. I then remembered that she left home with a cousin of ours, Mr. Nkem Igbokwe in a car. I called him to ask what was keeping them and where they were.
“Nkem said that he was in the car waiting for aunty to come out, referring to our big sister, Princess Zainab. I asked him where they were and he said that they were at the Police Station on Cameroun Road, Aba. He said that they came to see the DPO. I asked Nkem what took them there and he said that after they came out from a political meeting, because she was aspiring to contest the Abia State House of Assembly election to represent Aba North State Constituency and on their way home, she received a call from someone who said that he was having some problems at the Police Station. The caller, who she probably knew, told her that the DPO was proving too difficult to release him and all that. The caller urged her to come there and use her influence to talk to the DPO.
“According to Nkem, she then directed him to head to the Police Station but before getting there, she had to call the DPO first because the DPO had been asking her to see him for a long time, saying there was something he had to talk about with her. Zainab had previously told me that the DPO wanted to see her but that she didn’t know why he wanted to see her.
“On that day, when she called the DPO, he said that there was a case that needed her attention. So, she told him that she was coming. When they got to the Police Station, she met a police officer at the DPO’s reception and told him that she wanted to see the DPO. The officer told her to wait because the DPO was with some people in his private office. She told him that he could not wait because she needed to go home, having been exhausted for the day. So, she called the DPO on phone and told him that she was around. The DPO came out of his office to welcome her and invited her in. As they were about entering his office, she told the DPO that her cousin (Nkem) was outside. The DPO then told Nkem to give them some minutes, saying that my sister would be right back. My sister then told him to wait for her in car and assured him that she would be out shortly.
“When Nkem waited for about an hour without seeing her, he called her phone but she did not pick her calls. Nkem thought that they were still busy and wondered what it was that was keeping her there because it was unusual for big sister to be in a particular office for that long. As Nkem was waiting and wondering what could be happening, I called him to know where they were and he told me that he was still waiting for her inside the car at the police station. I told him to leave the car and enter the DPO’s office to know what was still keeping her. When Nkem got there, even the police officer at the reception wasn’t there anymore. He knocked at the DPO’s office, but there was no response and he came out. Then some police officers from the other section came to him and asked him if he was looking for anybody. He told them that he was looking for his cousin that he came there with.”
Tale develops twist
Favour said: “Nkem said that they asked him if he was related to the lady that came in and he said yes. Nkem said that they then asked for his phone number and he asked them what they wanted to do with his phone number. He told them to show him where his sister was, so that they could go home. After some arguments, he released his number to them. On getting back to the car to continue waiting, he received a call from an anonymous caller who told him to come to New Era Hospital, Aba, where his sister had been rushed to because she was very sick. He asked the caller what kind of sickness was he talking about and he told Nkem that she took excessive alcohol. Nkem again asked under how she could have taken excessive alcohol; moreover she was fasting that day and was supposed to see the DPO briefly and come out because she was exhausted. According to him, all these questions were running through his mind.”
According to Favour, “Nkem immediately gave us a call at home, saying that we should come to New Era Hospital, Aba. Time was about 9 p.m. I left the home and rushed to New Era Hospital. On getting to the hospital, Nkem, my in-law, elder sister, some friends and I asked them if any lady was rushed in there and they said yes. They even wrote her name as Nene Udah because the DPO did not know her real name. If at all the DPO knew her very well, he should be able to know her full names. But the DPO told them that her name was Nene Udah, thinking that she was the daughter of one of our family friends.
“They told us to go and verify if the lady that was brought in was Princess or Nene Udah. How we were able to locate the room she was lying in was the groaning we heard coming out of it. When we came in, she wasn’t wearing anything at the top but she still had her skirt because she was putting on a traditional attire. I looked around and saw her top, where it was kept and used it to cover her up before others could come in. We asked the doctors and nurses why she was in that state and they said that she was rushed in unconscious. We asked them what happened to her and they said that it was a patrol team from Ndiegoro Police Division that brought her there, adding that they told them that she took excessive alcohol. I smelt her breath but there was no alcohol in it. At least, someone who they claimed took a bottle of Hennessy should have the smell of alcohol in her breath. They said that she took a bottle of Hennessy and a can of Bullet energy drink all alone, yet there was no smell of alcohol in her breath. It was unbelievable.”
Favour said she continued to interrogate the hospital staff, revealing: “I asked the doctors and nurses how come she was half naked; they said that they took off her top and bra and put on the fan so that it could revive her. She was on drip as well. I asked how many drips had she taken and they said that she was on the third. I asked how could she be on the third drip between two and three hours interval. I asked if they did any medical examination on her before administering any treatment and they said no. They said that based on what they were told that she took alcohol, they gave her some injections and pints of drip.
“Then I started looking closely at my elder sister and saw that her neck was swollen with visible marks, just like when someone is slapped on the face and the finger marks appeared. I called the attention of the other people there to see what I was seeing. She was still groaning, totally unconscious; if anyone was there she never knew. And her tongue was in-between her teeth. The inevitable question is, what happened to her neck to make it swollen? Yes, she was plump but I knew the size of her neck. So, if anything happened to her, one could tell.
“When some of my siblings left, I stayed behind so that if she woke up she could see someone around. They left between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and I was alone with her. The nurses were coming to check on her after which they left. Some minutes later, she stopped groaning and I called the attention of a nurse. The nurse came in, checked on her and went to call the doctor. The doctor came in, checked her and confirmed her dead.”
What was her reaction when the doctor confirmed the sister dead? Favour said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was holding her in my and I never knew that she had passed out. I only knew that she had stopped groaning. After the doctor confirmed her dead, I called my people and they rushed back to the hospital that night. We looked her over and saw that her skirt was soaked with blood. This was a full grown woman, a business woman and well respected in society; how could she be in that state. She was my elder sister, she shared a lot of things in common and lived in the same house; so I lifted her skirt and found out that her undies were not there. How come her undies were not there? The nurses said that they did not know. She was in a pool of blood. That was when I raised the alarm that this could be rape.”
Favour said she called state’s commissioner of police: “I called the Commissioner of Police, Jonathan Johnson, the next day when her remains were being taken to the mortuary, to tell him what had happened. I never knew that he had already heard it and he knew my late sister very well. He asked it was true that Princess was dead? Who was the guy that took her to the police station? And why would the guy leave her to enter into the DPO’s office alone? That was exactly the words of Jonathan Johnson. That was crazy in my own sight. This was a full grown woman and you are now blaming the young guy that dropped her there, who is younger than her by far and who takes orders from her. He said that I should bring the guy immediately to his office at Umuahia. I asked him if that was all he had to say? He said yes, that he wanted to see the guy immediately. I said okay and dropped the call. I did not call him again.
“Meanwhile, the DPO that my sister came to see, switched off her phones. Why did he switch off her telephones when they were ringing? When my people went to see him and asked him why he switched off Princess’ telephones, he said that the telephones were making a hell of noise. Okay, somebody came to your office and you said that the person fell sick, why didn’t you pick her calls because it might be her family calling or search through her phone and call her relatives or even go and call the person she came with who was waiting in the car? You never let the person she came with know what was happening, instead you took her out through another gate to the hospital.”