Herdsman’s rape-killing of Mary Okereke in Ebonyi

ON December 28, 2019, the Ugwulangwu community in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was thrown into mourning when a herdsman, Laulo Isa, 20, raped a 54-year-old woman, Mrs Mary Okereke, to death, hinging his gruesome action on alcohol and anger. Speaking when he was paraded by the Ebonyi State police command in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, on Tuesday, December 31, Isa said a struggle had ensued between him and Okereke after she insulted him for demanding sex. He said: “I am Laulo Isa. I am from Nassarawa State. I came to work here in Ebonyi. I was seriously drunk and saw a woman in the night walking along the road alone. I approached her for sex and she started abusing me. We started abusing each other and I immediately pounced on her and she started struggling with me to free herself. I was seriously drunk at that time. I don’t know whether I was having sex with her, but she was on the ground with me. I did not hit her with any object but it seemed like I had sex with her for one round. We were both on the ground when a man flashed a torch on me and I ran away. I am not happy with what I did and I want to die. I just want to die. I want to die! I have never done this type of thing since God created me on this earth. I am begging for forgiveness.”

According to reports, the victim was returning from her farm on the fateful day when the suspect ambushed her, dragged her into a nearby bush, and raped her to death. Said the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Awotunde Awosola: “On December 28, 2019, at about 8 p.m, one Laulo Isa, a herdsman aged 20 years old, accosted and waylaid one 54-year-old, Mary Okereke, on Ufuezeraku Ugwulangwu road in Ohaozara Local Government Area. There was a struggle between the two of them but he overpowered the woman and had carnal knowledge of her. Unfortunately, the woman died during the incident. Through the concerted efforts of my DPO in Ohaozara, with the assistance of the youths in the community, a search began for the suspect, who fortunately left his cap and slippers in a bid to escape from that scene. So, with the assistance from two other Fulani guys, we were able to identify him through that cap and slippers and he was subsequently arrested and he is now with us and he is going to face the full weight of the law.”

This moment, Mary Okereke, an apparently very hard-working middle-aged woman whose only crime was going to her farm as the New Year festivities approached, lies in eternal silence, the victim of a herdsman’s murderous lust. Beyond the abomination inherent in having carnal knowledge of another person’s wife, and one old enough to be the rapist’s grandmother for that matter, there is also the question of state security and the worth of the Nigerian life. To all intents and purposes, the Nigerian life is worth exactly nothing, and may be taken by any felon at any time. During the dastardly incident under reference, herdsman Ilo claimed to have been drunk, yet his drunkenness did not clip his rapist proclivities: he raped his hapless victim to death and absconded from the bloody scene once his murderous thirst had been slaked. And were it not for the vigilance of members of the community and the police, he would certainly have left the community, defying the law and natural justice. Pray, for how long will innocent Nigerians continue to endure the herdsmen’s bestial rage? How can people who do not subscribe to the tenets of the modern society continue to enjoy the patronage of the Nigerian state?

We commend members of the Ugwulangwu community in Ebonyi State for the utmost restraint they demonstrated in the face of serious provocation. That restraint apparently stopped the dastardly incident from morphing into an inter-ethnic conflict. Yet the point must be must be made that such restraint, as has been demonstrated in many other parts of the country that have come under the herdsmen’s barbarity, particularly in the last four years, cannot but have an expiry date. It is therefore incumbent on the Federal Government to tame the herdsmen’s menace before it is too late to do so. On the part of the state governments, it is time to make examples of felons like Isa Ilo and, more importantly, step up community policing to arrest the slide into anarchy. We commiserate with the family and friends of Mrs Mary Okereke and wish them the fortitude to bear the loss.


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