On Tuesday June 1, a few hours after Nigerians started their day, news filtered in that Professor Godswill Obioma, the National Examinations Council (NECO) Registrar was dead.
The wife, Elizabeth, said he was murdered by armed men who strangled him to death.
She told Peoples Gazette that the assassins struck when her husband returned to Minna, Niger State, from a trip to Abuja.
Coming 24 hours after the murder of Ahmed Gulak, a former presidential political adviser, the information spread with Nigerians calling for an inquiry.
Gunmen murder NECO Registrar, Godswill Obioma
Some have referred to Obioma’s probe of the NECO governing board chaired by Abubakar Siddique Mohammed.
As the debate expanded, NECO told the nation that the family had released an official communication on the death.
Mustapha Abdul, Director of Human Resources said the deceased’s second son wrote to him.
“This is to formally inform you that my father, Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO passed to eternal glory yesterday 31/5/2021 after a brief illness.
“We request that you kindly notify the Board, Management and the entire staff of the Council of this development,” it read.
Curiously, Abdul, Nigerians observed, signed the circular on behalf of the “Registrar/Chief Executive” who is no longer alive.
Controversy as NECO boss’ wife, son disagree on cause of Obioma’s death
About the same time, the Police in Niger too declared Obioma died of natural causes with no mention of an inquest being a matter of public interest.
Public Relations Officer, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, noted that Obioma was rushed to theNational Hospital Abuja by his family members where he died.
Some have raised questions about the wife and the son’s different positions on the cause of death and why the announcement by NECO was not made before media reports.
A Twitter user, Chidinma Uwandu countered the statement by NECO. “What illness, my uncle wasn’t ill, get your facts rights.”
Several responders to her comments posited there’s an ongoing cover up and supported a thorough investigation, including an independent autopsy.
Chuks Akunna, an Executive Director at The Authority insists the Abia-born don was killed.
“At about 7am May 24, 2021, we spoke on the ongoing Senate probe of N6.5b contracts. Said his predecessors were uncomfortable, but that he wouldn’t speak “for now”. Last night he was murdered in his Minna house. RIP Prof”, he tweeted.
Obioma assumed office in May 2020 after taking over from ex-Registrar, Abubakar Gana. The ceremony was held at the NECO Head Office in Minna.
He was a Professor of Education Measurement and Evaluation and formerly Executive Secretary, Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council.
Obioma, 67, served as Ebonyi State Resident Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).