By Jonathan Ugbal
It has been five days since news broke that 13 year old Nsebong (other name unknown) allegedly committed suicide and what led to her demise remains a mystery.
While initial reports suggested that she hung herself and had watched carefully to ensure no one was going to see her, the mood in the community and recent findings leaves more questions than answers.
Archibong Efefiom had told CrossRiverWatch’s Jeremiah Archibong that: “She had initially sneaked out while her guardian who is an old retiree was busy with something. She was brought to take care of her (elderly woman), after the aged woman waited for her to run few errands, she then raised alarm to alert people about her disappearance, they searched fruitlessly in the house before they went out to continue the search around the building where they actually saw her lifeless body.”
When CrossRiverWatch visited the compound located besides the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at Diamond Hill, a small community overseeing the commercial bow of the Calabar channel which hosts most of the commercial activities in the channel on Monday, the House which was under lock and key remained so until Thursday, the last visit.
The rather apprehensive neighbors either denied knowledge of the incident or claimed they had no idea of where it happened.
All claimed they did not know the names or aliases of Nsebong’s guardian or her son.
A passerby directed this reporter to the house which featured black colored stones with white lines on the front porch that sits at an elevation that allows one to view the remains of what used to be the Calabar Cement Company (CALCEMCo) before it was sold to the United Cement Company (UniCem), moved it’s production to Mfamosing and later was bought over by Lafarge Holcim.
One can also view the skeletal structures of what Governor Ben Ayade’s administration calls Calas Vegas across the river and parts of other commercial premises around the Calabar port.
But, it was under lock and key. After waiting for nearly 90 minutes, I was advised by a neighbor to return the next day.
On Tuesday, being the next day, more neighbors declined commenting on the issue and directed me to the house again which was still under lock and key.
A venture to the side and backyard revealed chilling facts.
The first was that Nsebong was found hunged from one of six poles arranged in V shapes to line clothes.
A short twine measuring less than 30 centimeters was all that was left from the shocking photograph CrossRiverWatch had refused to publish.
What struck was was how thin the rope was and how it could have held the weight of the 13 year old whom from description was weighty and at leats 1.3 meters tall.
A quick measurement from the point which the rope was affixed on the pole to the ground showed 1.76 meters which meant the length of the rope from her neck back to the pole was less than 50 centimeters.
Near the scene, at the backyard, three logs half burnt suggests that they may have been using firewood to cook.
An old rusty wheelbarrow with no tire rests near the pole that bore the weight of Nsebong while different stems of bitter leaf wave gently to the wind.
Across the fence, near what looked like a store for the outdoor fireplace, kids and women chat each other in a tone that does not suggest tragedy had befallen their neighbor.
In all, it is difficult for anyone to have seen whether Nsebong took the trip to that pole, know the rope which was different and weaker than the one used as the line for clothes on her own accord or she was led to what can never pass as a gallow.
After spending two hours near the house waiting, two men in their mid forties, one bearded appeared and asked this reporter for his contact promising they would let the guardians of Nsebong know he visited and wants to speak with them.
They never called as at press time.
A former banker and finance Commissioner in the State, Etim Caiaphas is the village Head and a hike of about 800 meters to his home was fruitless that day as CrossRiverWatch was asked to return on Wednesday since the village Head was “sleeping.”
On Wednesday, a lady who sells foodstuffs was willing to “chat” but not interviewed. Conversing with her, her assistant and a second lady produced some facts not reported earlier. All three bluntly refused to give out their names.
Nsebong was brought in by her guardian’s son on Saturday evening as a maid after the young boy who was assisting the elderly woman resident in the house left on Saturday morning.
She was unknown to neighbors. But, on Sunday evening, the old woman had ran out asking for the whereabouts of her maid and after a frantic search, was found hunged just by the side of the house.
Her son who brought Nsebong is said to have been called from his own residence, he was the one that cut the twine Nsebong was hanging from.
When Nsebong’s father came to take her corpse away, he alongside his companions had lamented that he should have listened to her when she said she did not want to be a maid.
Three vans of Policemen took the guardian’s son away and he was released on Monday afternoon on bail. He then take his mother out of the house CrossRiverWatch found out which explains why the house was locked.
For the second lady who appeared to me as someone in her sixties and a retiree, she kept asking whether an autopsy had been done on Nsebong despite repeated questions from me whether she was not aware that Nsebong was found hunged.
After a while, she paused looked into her phone, handed it over to a young man that was seated next to her and proceeded on what seemed like a 20 minutes long story of the insecurity in Diamond Hill and why it could not be arrested despite the presence of the headquarters of the Police and three formations of the Nigerian Navy – the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, the Naval War College and the Eastern Naval Command.
She then directed me again to the residence of Mr. Caiaphas whom this time was “resting”.
I visited the State Command of the Nigerian Police having failed to establish the unit or division that may have arrested and they denied knowledge too of the unit or division that arrested Nsebong’s guardian’s son or that is handling the investigation.
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