Nigeria must get to the root of the death of CIIN chief, Ndubuisi-Chukwu
These are not the best of times for the leaderships of the Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (NICASA) and the Nigerian Union in South Africa, on whose shoulders the grim responsibilities of announcing the untimely deaths of their compatriots in South Africa in questionable circumstances, and preparing graveside orations for same, usually fall. And, given the frequency of such deaths in a fellow African country, the two bodies have done a surfeit of such tasks, especially in recent times.
The most recent is that of the Deputy Director-General of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu. The mother of two was found dead in her hotel room at the Emperor’s Palace Hotel and Convention Centre where she had lodged on June 13. Ndubuisi-Chukwu was in South Africa for the Conference of African Insurance Organisation (AIO). Indeed, she had attended the closing dinner of the event the night before she was murdered and those who saw her there said she was hale and hearty.
While the deaths of most other Nigerians in South Africa could be explained away as borne out of xenophobic attacks, since they were mostly based in that country, that of Ndubuisi-Chukwu cannot. She was based in Nigeria and was only in South Africa for a short while. So, what could have prompted her murder? Second, most of the other Nigerians killed in South Africa were either mobbed, stabbed or shot; none of such happened in this latest case.
Indeed, this is the puzzle.
Initially, it was felt Ndubuisi-Chukwu died of cardiac arrest, or she committed suicide. An autopsy report however proved these wrong. The report, released by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs on June 20 indicated that her death was unnatural. This was corroborated by a statement from another government agency, South Africa’s Department of Health, on June 27, which revealed that she was strangled.
This has, naturally led to the question: whodunit? Could someone have sneaked into her room under the cover of darkness to perpetrate the crime? If yes, who could that be? And why? The matter is not helped by the alleged reluctance of the hotel authorities to release their close circuit television (CCTV) which could be instrumental in giving a clue to the circumstances of the CIIN chief’s death.
It is particularly perplexing that the South African police have not been up and doing in unravelling the circumstances of the murder.
Many Nigerians have been killed in South Africa in recent times. These included Ebuka Udugbo, who was allegedly killed by the police in May, following a fracas with his South African girlfriend. Another Nigerian, Mr. Martin Ebuzoeme, was killed by unknown assailants in that country in July, last year. And, as if killing Nigerians is some South Africans’ way of declaring Nigerians personae non gratae, three Nigerians were killed at different locations in that country between April 6 and April 9.
However, without prejudice to the fact that the life of every Nigerian in South Africa, as elsewhere, is important, we hasten to add that Ndubuisi-Chukwu’s murder is not one that should be swept under the carpet. We are happy so far with the efforts made by the chairperson/chief executive officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, whose commission swung into action immediately the matter became public knowledge.
We are also impressed with the interest shown by the Senate and other Nigerians on this matter. The Federal Government should give all the necessary support to the diaspora commission and the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa to get to the root of this matter.
We deplore a situation where Nigerians would be killed like chicken in South Africa or any other part of the world, without trace.