By Segun Olubayo
Mr Ikechukwu Amaechi (48) was a complete picture of grief. He has been sleeping at Igando General Hospital for days now. There were dark patches beneath his eyes, showing that he had not been sleeping well.
And many of his neighbours said that he has drastically lost weight. Amaechi is the father of Goodluck Amaechi (11), whose right hand was chopped off by Jeremiah Obifor (61).
One correspondent tracked Amaechi to his home at Afromedia area of Okokomaiko. Amaechi, a father of two boys, choked on emotion as he narrated how his son lost his hand. Goodluck is the second son of Amaechi. His wife died three years ago, leaving the two boys in his care.
Since the death of his wife, life had never been easy for him and his boys. To make ends meet, Amaechi goes to highways to hawk confectionaries.
After running up and down highways, trying to meet up with customers in ever moving or speeding vehicles, he returns home tired. He said that between his two boys, Goodluck often acts like mother hen.
He would be the first to sweep their one-room apartment, wash his father’s clothes and ensure that food was ready for his dad. Obifor, who is presently in police custody, told angry neighbours after chopping off the boy’s hand, that he thought Goodluck attempting to steal fish from his fishpond.
The incident, which occurred on June 7th, left many Nigerians reeling in shock, with social media buzzing and people demanding for the head of Obifor. People in the community, however, told our correspondent that Obifor didn’t have any fishpond.
One of the neigbours said: “We all met this canal here. It belongs to everybody and it belongs to nobody. It’s creation of nature.Whenever there is a heavy rainfall, there would be fishes in the canal. I don’t know why the old man is now claiming that it belongs to him.”
Amaechi, who struggled not to breakdown in tears, narrated: “ Goodluck plays the role of wife in our house. He does all the domestic chores.”
He explained: “On the day of the incident, it was one of my in-laws, Onyekachi that called me. He didn’t know how to break the news to me. He told me that my first son was sick. He said that I should quickly go home and check on him. He also said that my neighbours called him when they couldn’t get me.
“When I got to our bus stop, people started stopping me, to sympathise with me.They looked at me as if something terrible happened. Others were murmuring behind me. I wondered if my first son was dead. I asked myself what could have caused his death.
“As a man, I was already preparing to accept any situation. At the same time, I prayed God for mercy. I didn’t want any death. It’s been three years since I lost my wife.
“I didn’t want any death. As I got closer to my house, I noticed many people were standing in front of my house. It was as if the place was a market square.”
Amaechi further said: “I asked myself again if my first son was dead. I summoned courage and entered the compound. I went straight into my apartment.
“I opened my door; I was expecting to see the dead body of my son, but I didn’t see anything. The crowd waited outside, but some bravely followed me into my house.
“They told me that someone used a machete to cut off the hand of my second son, Goodluck. I asked for Goodluck; they told me that a neighbour took him to hospital.”
It was gathered that after the incident, some neighbours rushed Goodluck to a private hospital, where he was rejected. He was then taken to Igando General Hospital.
Amaechi said: “ I quickly rushed to the hospital; when I got there, I saw Goodluck hand tied with a cloth.When I saw him, I started crying. There was blood everywhere. He couldn’t utter a word when I asked him what happened.
“I thank the Almighty God that when my son was rushed to the general hospital, he was quickly attended to. In fact, all the medical personnel in the hospital were concerned about his situation.”
Explaining how Goodluck hand was ruthlessly chopped off by Obifor, Amaechi said: “ I was told that Goodluck and other children went to the canal to fish.
“The canal is close to Obifor’s house. The children were on holiday. “Unfortunately, my son was the one that incurred Obifor’s wrath. Since I have been living in this community, I have never crossed his path.
“I have never fought or quarreled with him. The most surprising thing is that, that day was the first time Goodluck would be going to that canal with other children to fish. Obifor claimed he has a fishpond, but there’s no fishpond there.
“There is only a canal there. Rather, what I also noticed was a hole dug by him. I also noticed that he perforated the lower part of his fence to his compound, so that when it rains, water goes out into the canal through it.It was that canal that my son and other children went to fish.”
Amaechi explained that Goodluck was waiting for the results of his Common Entrance Examination, in preparation to enter secondary school.
Tears glittered in his eyes as he mumbled that he didn’t know how his son would now cope with secondary school. The distraught father appealed to the Imo State and Lagos State governments to come to his aid.
He said that he didn’t have money enough to foot his son’s medical bill.His words: “Everybody in my compound can testify that Goodluck is a good boy. He has never taken anybody’s thing. If someone gives him something, he brings home to show me.”
Mr. Joseph Ezeugwu, who found Goodluck’s hand after it was chopped off, said: “Some of my friends called me that a ritual killer had chopped off the hand of a child in our area. I quickly left my business and rushed to the place. When I got there, I saw people with children. They said a man chopped off the hand of a boy.
“We entered Obifor’s compound and moved towards his fence, which was where he opened a hole, for water to go out when it’s raining. We saw blood.
“We went close to the place and saw what he claimed to be a fishpond. It was actually a swamp. There was no sign of a fishpond around the place. We were many in the compound and we all started searching for the severed hand.
“Three hours later, we found the hand. It was still shaking. One of the men with us, Obodo, brought it, but scared because it was shaking, threw it back into the swamp. I jumped into the swamp. The swamp almost swallowed me.
“I picked up the hand and took it to Obifor. I ordered him to hold it and to tell us all he knew about it. We then brought him out of his compound. Someone called the police.”
Ezeugwu further narrated: “ Goodluck’s friend told us that they were at the canal, attempting to fish, when one of them suddenly noticed a fish in the hole of Obifor’s compound.
“Goodluck put his hand through the perforated hole, in attempt to catch the fish. As he put his hand through the hole, Obifor used a machete and cut it off from the other side of the fence. The hand fell off.”
Ezeugwu said that Obifor, for years, had been living alone.
It was gathered that Obifor would have gotten away with the crime, but for one of Goodluck’s friends, who like other frightened children, ran home to narrate the horrible incident to their mothers.
Initially, the story that travelled into town was that ritual killers chopped off the hand of Goodluck. Obifor heard the story, knew he was the assailant, but kept quiet.
The true story was heard when the mother of Goodluck’s friend brought him, and the boy narrated what happened to everyone.
Ezeugwu said: “The woman’s son explained everything to the people and they went for Obifor.”
He appealed to the community to support Goodluck’s father because, “the kid is a good boy and loved by everyone in our area. We are going to see how to support his father with payment of his medical bills. We also want other Nigerians to support them. We need to save the boy’s life.
“Without his right hand, I don’t know what he would do with his left hand, but there’s God. The old man should bear the responsibility of the hospital bills and should be made to train the boy to any level in life.”
A neighbour, Mr. Bekee Chikezie, said: “Goodluck is a promising child. Obifor has destroyed his life by cutting off his right hand. Amaechi has been passing through hardship since the death of his wife three years ago.
“He is playing the role of father and mother to his two children. Obifor is a wicked person! Even if the man has fishpond and the kid steals a dozen fish that was not enough reason to cut off his hand.
“As a grandfather, he could have simply flogged him.”
Another resident, Kazeem Subari, said: “We entered into the bush to know if it was ritual killers that cut off the hand of the boy. An army officer, who joined in the search, fired canisters of tear gas into the bush.
“We were still searching until Goodluck’s friend came with his mother to tell us the true story. We entered the man’s compound, went to the wall and saw blood. The old man first denied everything.
“He said that he was not aware of what we were talking about. He claimed that he had just returned from Lagos State University, Ojo. After about three hours of searching his compound, we found Goodluck’s hand. People started beating him. Policemen arrived and took him away.”
FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH