WHEN A THIEF HAS DIVINE AUTHORITY OVER THE POLICE, THE STORY OF UKPABI IN NNEWI

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It then happened that there was one Mr. Afunanyekwe, a colonial police corporal from Nnobi who heard of the robbery heroics of Ukpabi Ohame and boasted publicly that he could burst him.

Ukpabi initially laughed off the police officer’s threat but later decided to teach him a lesson of his life.

He sent a message to the police man that he would be coming to rob him in his village house on a particular day and at a particular time.

“What a mendacious audacity?” Corporal Afunanyekwe bellowed.

But as days passed by, the superior reasoning that “you should never take any threat from a criminal for granted” forced the police man to get prepared and was determined more than ever before to help Nnewi liquidate their famous thief.

“I’m sure of being promoted if I succeed in the dealing with Ukpabi”, Cpl Afunanyekwe motivated himself.

He sought for assistance from his zonal command at Onitsha and received about six officers to guard his house for two days before and after the D-day.

He even conducted a mock exercise with his officers on how to catch robbers in his compound.

A corporal in the colonial police was a high ranking officer in the Southeastern Protectorate.

Only Sgt. Anuligo of Umuenem Otolo and Cpl Charles Enumah of Okpuno Nnewichi were superior to Cpl Afunanyekwe within neighbouring 20 towns to Nnewi.

Cpl Afunanyekwe’s house was located on the Anuka-Nnobi- Awka Etiti road, two houses before the border between Nnewi and Nnobi.

As with other loud-mouthed victims before him, every human being within and around the perimeter fence of Afunanyekwe’s compound fell into a deep slumber thirty minutes before Ukpabi and his gang arrived.

Ukpabi had sent “Ediura” ( i.e. a slumber sleep inducing charm) to Corporal Afunanyekwe and his guards. It was “surface-to-air” missile.

Upon arrival, Ukpabi personally collected the double-barreled gun Cpl Afunanayekwe was holding in his hands while snoring on his seat at a corner of his house which had a clear view of the entrance way; his supposed commanding position.

Other police officers were artfully discovered and their guns collected from them while they were deep at sleep.

Ukpabi wanted to leave an indelible foot print to teach the impetuous police officer a lesson.

He asked his boys to kill the biggest of the goats in the pen of their “host” and make a pepper soup right at the centre of the “host’s” compound.

Ingredients were sourced from their victim’s kitchen.

Not done, Ukpabi’s commanded his gang to cook beans found in Cpl Afunanyekwe’s house.

Food done, they feasted and scattered bones and the leftovers on the ground for not-so-observant to notice that a feast took place.

Killing of a goat, cooking beans and eating same in their victim’s house was very significant.

It was a sign of total humiliation and a show of superiority that would make the victim appreciate how conveniently Ukpabi would have killed him, members of his family and his protectors.

Ukpabi just wanted to prove a point. Nothing more.

He and his gang did not leave Cpl Afunanyekwe’s house with a pin, except the goat pepper soup and beans in their stomachs.

Before leaving, Ukpabi neatly packed the guns seized from his “host” and his colleagues and dropped them in a nearby farm, few meters away from fence of Cpl Afunanyekwe’s compound where they could easily be found.

Having reached his house in Uruagu, a distance of about one and half hours, Ukpabi removed his “Oji” (i.e. a sharp edged staff) he stabbed into the ground to release the Nnobi policeman and his household from sleep.

Cpl Afunanyekwe’s wife and children woke up in the next morning very fresh and could not remember the last time they slept as deeply as they did in the night.

That Cpl Afunanyekwe was humiliated was not his immediate concern when he woke up and noticed that his house had been turned upside down, but the disappearance of his service gun.

What explanation would he give to his superiors?

He could be tried for cowardice as the whiteman would not understand that he and his officers were made to sleep on duty.

Afunanyekwe, a full Corporal in the Royal British Colonial Police Force, was in this state of confusion when one of his lieutenants combing the nearby bush shouted “Oga, I have found them; the guns are complete sir!” as if that was the reason why he came to Nnobi.

The police officers agreed to deny that Ukpabi visited.

What was the impact of a loss of a common goat and few cups of beans when compared to a heavy dent an acknowledgement of Ukpabi’s visit would do to their careers?

Since the foundation of Nnewi was laid, there has never been a thief or robber so respected, awe-striking and successful as Ukpabi Ohame.

It was believed by many that the god that reincarnated Ukpabi and made him a thief equipped him with all the robbery facilitating tools that he needed to succeed in his calling.

By Anayo M. Nwosu

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