Grace Awuda, the mother of the Anambra lady, Chinyere, who was allegedly beaten to death in a hotel in Anambra State, shares her grieve with IKENNA OBIANERI
It was reported that your daughter, Chinyere, was found dead near a swimming pool at a hotel in Awka, what can you recall about the incident?
My name is Grace Awuda. I hail from Nnobi, in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am in my early 70s. I am a trader married with six children.
Chinyere was my fifth daughter. The news of her sudden death came to us as a rude shock. We never expected that her promising life with a bright future would be cut short in such a manner. We heard that she was beaten to death by a group of boys and her corpse was found near a swimming pool at the hotel where she went with her friends to celebrate someone’s birthday.
When did the incident happen and how did you hear about it?
I heard it happened on Saturday, July 15, 2023, but we got the news on Monday, July 17. I became worried on Sunday as I did not hear from my daughter because she used to call me every morning to ask me and her father how we were doing. When she did not call me, she called her father. But that particular day, when I did not hear from her, I started calling her on the phone; it kept ringing, but she did not answer the call. I informed her father about it, and her father picked up his phone and called her line. It rang, but she did not take the call. After some time, her father called her elder brother and told him to go to where she was living and find out what was happening. When he got there, her neighbours said they had not seen her since Saturday (July 23). It was at that point that her brother and some of her neighbours began a search for her and later in the afternoon, we got to hear that she died in a hotel where they went for a birthday celebration.
Were you aware that your daughter would attend a party that day?
I was not aware. I learnt she was at home that fateful day before some of her friends invited her to the party and you know young ones and the way they behave. She decided to follow them.
Who broke the news of her death to you?
I cannot remember who actually did, but I think it was through a video that started circulating online later that day that we got to know about her death after someone drew our attention to it and the place the incident took place.
Was she a very social person and do you know whether she regularly visited the hotel?
No. My daughter was somebody that liked staying indoors if she did not go to work or have an important place to go. I know my daughter’s movement because she tells me everything. According to what we heard, she followed her friends to attend the birthday celebration of another friend and unfortunately, that was where she met her death.
It was alleged that she was beaten to death by some people for allegedly picking and pocketing the money friends of the host were spraying on him while he was dancing at the hotel on the day of the incident. How true was that?
It was not true. My daughter does not do such a thing. I know her very well. She wasn’t somebody that takes what does not belong to her. We may not be rich, but we inculcate good morals and discipline into our children. Only God knows what really transpired. We have asked the hotel management to provide the CCTV footage but they have refused to do so, that is the only thing that can provide the evidence of what really happened. A lot has been said and only God knows what the true position of things is. The issue is that my daughter was beaten to death for no just cause and I commit the matter to God; we have no powers on our own. If they said she wasn’t beaten to death, they should provide the CCTV footage. It’s that simple.
What sign did you observe that made you feel she was beaten to death?
When we got to the hotel to see the corpse, there were bruises all over her body that showed that she was beaten to death. We wanted to take pictures, but the police prevented us from doing so for no reason. Her friends with whom she attended the party informed us how they narrowly escaped being lynched. They said when the incident started, there was a commotion and people who were at the birthday party ran into an empty room and that it was after the situation had become calm that they came out and everybody went to their various homes not knowing that my daughter did not survive the incident until that Monday when the video started trending. Some of them confirmed to us how they saw her being dragged and beaten until it got to a point where the people beating her dragged her into a corner and they did not see what happened again.
What kind of justice do you expect from this case?
All I know is that she was killed and I leave those who killed her in the hands of God. We have no power to fight anybody, but it is only God that we rely upon to give us justice in this matter.
Justice is what we want. They really need to unravel the truth. My daughter does not take what does not belong to her. I can vouch for her anytime, any day. It is not acceptable to us what they are saying that she was picking money that was being sprayed during a party. The inability of the hotel management to provide a comprehensive CCTV video of what happened, both inside the club where the beating started and outside the club where the actual murder occurred left more questions to be answered and uncovered. We will leave vengeance for God, but the police should investigate the matter.
You mentioned that your daughter had a bright future. Did she share her aspiration with you?
My daughter had great ambition. She had just completed her first-degree programme at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, where she studied Business Education and was waiting for her call-up letter from the National Youth Service Corps. She wanted to become an economist and agriculturist.
Life is all vanity. My daughter just graduated from the university and came out with a good grade, but now, she cannotenjoy the fruits of her labour. All that is gone. We cannot question God nor can we fight Him. All we can say is that we have left everything unto His hands and He should let truth and justice prevail.
What plans did she have for you?
She had great plans for me. In fact, she gives me joy, and ever since the news of her death came to me, my life has been shattered. The thought that I will not be seeing her anymore devastates me every minute of the day. My daughter cared for me and her father so much. She bought things for us even from the salary she receives from where she was working pending when her call-up letter would come. She was a very likable person; she was someone that could enter a place and change the atmosphere, making everybody laugh. You could not feel sad whenever she was around you. Her father and I enjoyed a very cordial relationship with her.
What was the last conversation you had with your daughter?
On that fateful Saturday that the incident was said to happen, she called me in the morning, and during our conversation, she told me not to worry and that after her youth service, she was optimistic about getting a good job. She said she would adequately take care of me and I would not regret having her as a child. I was so happy to hear that. My heart was filled with joy and I encouraged and prayed for her.
I will miss her a lot. Right now, I have started feeling her absence already and I don’t know how long or if I can be consoled with anything. I have remained inconsolable. Her death has devastated me so much. My daughter meant everything to me, her aura alone was strong, electrifying, and impactful. She was somebody whose presence people always felt whenever she was around.
Have you seen her alleged killers?
We saw one of them arrested by the police when we got to the police headquarters in Awka. The police said he was making a confession and a useful statement as regards the incident. But all I am interested in is for the truth of the matter to be revealed and nothing more. It is the truth and nothing more that we want. My daughter was murdered for no justifiable reason. The people who were present at the scene said two people beat her until she ran into an enclosure, after which the two people came out without my daughter. That is why we have been requesting that the CCTV footage be released to unravel the truth. Our daughter has died, there is nothing we can do, but we need the truth.
Do you accept the result of the autopsy?
The corpse was taken to the morgue and the autopsy was done on Thursday, and we were told that the result was sent to the police on Friday, the following day.
My daughter is dead and nothing can bring her back to life. As I had said, all we want is the truth. We will go for an independent pathologist. This is because we want to know the truth of the matter to help us to ascertain the cause of death which will help us to unravel misconceptions of information surrounding the unfortunate incident.
Is your family satisfied with the way the case is currently being handled? Your lawyer also alleged that there was a conspiracy between the investigating police officer and the management of the hotel.
As I said, our daughter cannot come back to life, hence we want justice and truth to prevail. It is true that the lawyer has petitioned the Commissioner of Police in the state stating that the police officer investigating the matter has been trying to coerce the family into accepting an amicable settlement, without accepting that our daughter was gruesomely murdered and dumped in the abandoned pool. All we are asking the police to do is to be thorough.
The hotel has also come out to state that your daughter was not beaten to death. How do you feel about this?
They should provide the evidence through the CCTV (footage). It’s simple. She had bruises all over her body when she was removed from the pool, and the police conspired with them to stop us from taking pictures of bruises on her body. The CCTV (footage) is also with the police. They should release it for us to get the true account of the incident.