A TRIBUTE TO A NOVEL ICON
Late Ms Ifeoma Stella Abugu
PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF UGBAIKE UNDERGRADUATES AND GRADUATES ON THE OCASSION OF
HER BURIAL AND FINAL FAREWELL TODAY, FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021
How do we express the depth of shock that your sudden death bestows on us without notice?
How do we speak to our emotions around death when there is so much sorrow by the corner?
The news of the demise of Ms. Ifeoma Stella Abugu is shocking and has left a sour taste in our mouths. Ifeoma wasillegally arrested by the personnel of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Command at about 5:00 pm on Friday, September 9, 2020. The deceased was on a visit to her fiancé—Mr. Afam Ugwunwa from Anambra State, resident in Wumba village in Lokogoma of Abuja. The subsequent news of her brutal rape and tragic death in cold blood was also a rude shock, to say the list. If there was anything, we would have loved to hear, this was the last of all our expectations.
However, writing a tribute for a person of Ifeoma whose life mirrored a brighter future with many possible exploits, which was terminated and wasted, is one of the hardest things to contemplate. It is indeed a huge and almost overwhelming responsibility; an emotionally charged task and daunting.
Stella, an amiable and industrious person like many other responsible of Ugbaike youths, graduated from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. Ifeoma as fondly called also completed the national assignment of the National Youth Service Corps at Abuja. Like every woman would pray to have her own home, Ifeoma was equally fortunate to have got a fiancé. They had fixed and were preparing for the marriage ceremony for December 2020 when the pathetic cum traumatic story of the end of her earthly sojourn begun. What a nostalgic world; full of improbabilities, uncertainty and doubt.
Dear people of God and citizens of this country, life is full of ironies, and even the end of life seems to have its share. Otherwise, who would have thought of this ever bouncing, robust, cheerful, decent and ever smartly dressed erudite graduate with a wonderful personality, and a peculiar sense of humour and friendship, would fall so cheaply to the cold hands of death in this manner. It is hard, to sum up, a person and their journey in times like this. Ify we will forever miss you! Oh, death! Where is your sting?
As I reflect on the times and lives of this unique individual—Ifeoma, I give thanks to God for the way she touched each of us during her short earthly sojourn. She had great consideration for others and a deep love for life. Some are privileged to have met and known her as a friend, colleague and confidant.
I pay this immeasurable tribute to a lady whose unlawful arrest, rape and killing drew the attention of Nigerian youths, the Federal/State/Local Governments and parastatals, the entire Nigerians, and people and organizations of international repute, among others to the realities of life in Nigeria.
I am happy that her unjustified death instigated Nigerian youths to employ the #EndSARS hashtag to create awareness on police brutality in the country such as extortion, rape, physical and verbal assault, extrajudicial killings, wanton arrests, and other forms of intimidation tactics against young innocent citizens of our country. There are many gory tales of SARS’ horrific operations targeting innocent young Nigerians.
Dear listeners, please tell me:
What is this life all about?
Is it justifiable that parents in this hard time, after labouring and starving to train their children, would be exposed to this cock and bull story like that of Stella? What joy and gain are derived?
What is then the reason for all the struggles to ensure a means to livelihood without an iota of hope for the future?
Why would the Nigerian security personnel be imposing horrific operations against innocent citizens, especially the youths?
Why is the government becoming so unconcerned about all sorts of atrocities happening to innocent citizens in the country? Like Sonny Okosun a renowned artist would say, “Which Way Nigeria?”
Even though the official autopsy report revealed that Ifeoma was raped and strangled to death, with her private parts mutilated, the Nigeria Police Force remains silent in bringing the culprits to face the wrath of the law.
Has the government, the Police Force, etc considered what would be the fate of the Ifeoma’s entire nuclear and extended family members and her fiancé?
The Ugbaike youths, therefore, in solidarity, join the entire Nigerian youths to call for justice to be expressed on the illegal arrest, rape and death of Stella Ifeoma Abugu.
I thank earnestly, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Justice Committee for Ifeoma of Enugu-Ezike Lawyers Forum Chaired by Professor Uwakwe Abugu, and all organizations both within the country and across the globe for their respective calls for the reformation or outright dissolution of the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police, and also advocating for a just trial of the case of Ifeoma Abugu. I cannot thank enough Hon. Senator Chuka Utazi, representing Enugu North Senatorial Zone in the Upper House of the Red Chamber (Nigeria Senate Building) for all his immeasurable efforts and supports that guaranteed the actualization of today’s event. I pray that God will repay all your kind gestures and lift you from a higher position to another. Amen.
I heartily appeal to the members of the Fourth Estate (the Press) present here today to help us project our passionate request to President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, including other security agencies in the country, to please explore better strategies that will guarantee lasting solutions towards curbing the prevailing height of brutality and arrant disregard for lives of Nigerians they were employed and paid to protect.
Members of the National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates continue to request the President Buhari, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Igbo-Eze North Local Government Chairman, Hon. Prince Engr. Ejike Itodo, including the Inspector General of Police to provide some reasonable financial compensation to Ms. Ifeoma Stella Abugu’s family. We further, passionately beg Mr. President to also offer a Federal Government job to some of Ifeoma'srelatives. All these incentives would assist the family to recuperate from a series of huge financial waste and trauma her death had caused them.
The old saying of “in everything give thanks to God” should prevail here among her family members, other relations, the Ugbaike youths and the entire people of the Ugbaike community. I encourage all here to always seek solace in God and be comforted. Ifeoma has left a footprint in the sand of time, sub-planting love and goodwill. To all that she left behind, we will be consoled that she lived an exemplary life.
Lift up your eyes unto the hills — Psalm 121
On behalf of members of the National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates whom Ifeoma was their colleague, I commiserate with the entire family and relations, including friends and well-wishers of late Ifeoma Abugu. I further pray that the blessings of God Almighty will continually be with her even in the worlds beyond. May her gentle soul rest peacefully in God’s Paradise, the abode of her creator, Amen!
Adieu Great Soul! Adieu Ifeoma! Adieu!
Requiescat in Pace. Until we meet to part no more.
Comrade Thecla Chigozie Eze
National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates (NAUUG)