He broke into national limelight in early May 2013 when he was shown on the television across the country while being paraded by police officers attached to Imo State Police Command who accused him of sleeping in the same house with the corpse of his mother for 10 years.
The accused, Chimezie Osigwe, a retired school principal, immediately became a subject of discussion among Nigerians.
While some described him as a cultist, others accused him of being a ritualist who had allegedly killed his mother, and later kept her corpse for ritual purpose.
While the debate raged, the police later charged Osigwe to court for murder. He was arraigned before Justice Goddy Anunihu. However, at the end of his trial, which lasted over a year, Osigwe was finally discharged and acquitted on November 25, 2014 by the trial judge.
In an encounter with Saturday Sun last week in Ibadan, Osigwe, who expressed joy that he has regained his freedom, however, pointed fingers at some of his kinsmen in his native Oguta community in Imo State as being the brains behind his ordeal.
According to him, some of his own relations and elders in Ezuru Umuagwu in Oguta colluded with the police to frame him on murder charge.
“How can I murder my own mother? How can I murder an 80-year-old woman that gave birth to me? Why? These people just framed me up, using police to achieve their diabolical plan,” he declared.
Osigwe, who told our reporter that his mother died as a result of collapse of a section of the wall in his house, further added that immediately the incident happened, he informed some of his siblings, and elders in the community, adding that they all later commiserated with him.
While saying that he was shocked by the sudden turn of events that led to his arrest, Osigwe attributed it to a dispute he had with a relation who later decided to report him to the police that he had been sleeping with a corpse for about 10 years.
“Everybody in the village, including the elders and relations, knew that I had been keeping my mum’s corpse for 10 years. They knew I embalmed the body. I actually obtained police permission to embalm the corpse, and not only that, the embalment was done at General Hospital in Owerri – it is only that the then Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Muhammed Katsina decided to make an issue out of it. I also strongly believe that I was persecuted by the villagers because of my faith,” he declared.
Asked to elaborate on the persecution angle and his faith, Osigwe said he became number one enemy of the villagers after he became an adherent of Sat Guru Maharaj.
On how he felt sleeping with a corpse for 10 years, Osigwe said that he didn’t have any strange feeling. He further added that he saw nothing abnormal in keeping the corpse for that long without according the deceased a befitting burial.
“Why should I be afraid? To be afraid of my own mother? In death and life, she remained my mother. I never had bad dream for that 10 years. In fact, having her body in my house for 10 years brought progress and prosperity to my life,” he said.
On preservation, he said he hired a mortician who was coming from time to time to inject the corpse to make it remain fresh.
“Mama was at peace with herself – I locked her up in a room, but from time to time, I go there to check her. I often meditate there. It is very unfortunate that my detractors disrupted Mama from enjoying her peace,” he added.
Giving reasons the deceased was not buried when she died, Osigwe said he resorted to embalming the corpse because not all his siblings were in Nigeria.
According to him, he has two senior brothers who were based in the United States and both of them expressed their desire to be at the funeral.
“One of my two brothers, Pascal is a professor in the United States while the one that followed him, Athanasius, both expressed their intention to pay their last respects to mama physically. With this situation, the only alternative left to me is to embalm the corpse, which I did?
While saying that he has forgiven his enemies, Osigwe told Saturday Sun that he has not been finding it easy to cope with life since his discharge by the court.
He added that things were made difficult for him by Imo State government, which he alleged, has refused to pay his pension and gratuity.
Urging Governor Rochas Okorocha to order the state government officials, especially the Teaching Service Commission, to commence payment of his pension, and also his gratuity, Osigwe said: “I was charged to court, and the court of law has not only discharged me, but I was also acquitted of murder charge preferred against me. What else do they want? To me, this is an act of injustice, and this is why I said that I’m being persecuted because of my faith. I want members of the public to help me appeal to Okorocha, they should pay me my entitlements. This problem happened around the time I retired from the public service. A labourer, as they say, deserves his wages. A competent court of jurisdiction has set me free, then why is the government reluctant to give me my dues? I’m suffering now, I don’t want to die now,” he lamented.
Osigwe further told Saturday Sun that he has not visited his village since his release, adding, however, that he was afraid of going there because he had been reliably informed that elders in the community had vowed to deal with him if he dared step into the village.
“I was told that if I like myself that I should not show up in the community. I was told that many of them were not happy that I have not been hanged. What is my offence? I was reliably informed that most of the villagers, including the elders, have vowed to deal with me for allegedly desecrating the community by becoming an adherent of Guru Maharaj in a village that is predominantly Catholic. I have been declared a persona non grata in my own village, where else will I go? I want Imo State government to intervene in my case.”
The 63-year-old retired teacher, who stated that village elders warned him when he openly declared his membership of the Guru Maharaj sect, said he didn’t take the threat seriously since Nigeria’s Constitution guarantees freedom of association and worship.
“The elders called me and warned me that they will not allow me to pollute the village with Guru’s teachings, but I dared them to do their worst, and with benefit of hindsight, I don’t have to look far to know those behind my predicament,” he said.
Attributing his mother’s death to alleged negligence by a company located close to his house, Osigwe said the company operated some heavy equipment that often cause vibrations in his house.
He added that on several occasions he had visited the company to lodge complaints.
“When my mind is settled, I will take the matter up with the company – I’m going to challenge them. The company is liable for my mother’s death,” he declared. -The Sun