Police sources said that Nwatu, was allegedly killed by unknown persons while returning from a court sitting at Nkanu, the local government headquarters Monday afternoon.
The traditional ruler who was accompanied by four policemen was said to have arrived the court premises when the court had closed and left the premises with the policemen.
Police sources said that Nwatu was trailing one of his subjects who had some issues with him when they were waylaid by a group of people and beaten to stupor.
His attackers reportedly disarmed his police orderlies before descending on them. The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, for Nkanu West Police Station, who got wind of the attack was said to have rushed the monarch to Orient Hospital in the area, where Nwatu was given some first aid treatment before he was transferred to the Parklane Hospital in Enugu metropolis, where he died at 9pm last night.
However, other sources said that some members of the community were going to Government House, where they had been invited by the Chief of Staff, CoS, to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi over their matter with Nwatu when they were blocked somewhere at Amodu, Awkunanaw by the Igwe and some members of the police anti-robbery squad, SARS, and molested before the fracas which led to the killing of the Igwe started. The members of the SARS were said to have abandoned the Igwe when he reportedly ordered his driver to kill anybody on his way to enable him escape. The driver was said to have overrun one person from Ogbozine, shattering his two legs before his enraged subjects pounced on him and beat him to stupor, leading to his death.
The late Nwatu was said to have been having series of problems with his subjects who had always accused him of high-handedness, as well as complained of imposition of arbitrary and illegal levies on them.
Meanwhile, the police at Nkanu have recovered one of the riffles snatched from one of the policemen guarding the late Igwe Nwatu. Policemen and family members of late Igwe Nwatu confirmed that the late traditional ruler died from the injuries he sustained during the attack at Park Lane Hospital yesterday.
About 15 houses were said to have so far been burnt in a reprisal attack against alleged opponents of the late Igwe.
It was said that some members of the local vigilante group, Neighborhood Watch, who were loyal to Nwatu, attacked those perceived to be enemies of the late monarch and set their houses ablaze.
Henry Nnamani said that two of his houses were burnt while his brother, Moses, lost over 30 drums of palm oil which he stored in his house, waiting for the period of scarcity to sell them, while Chijioke Okenwa also said that he “lost all that he had laboured for, following the burning” of his house.
Enugu State police Spokesman, Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the killing of Igwe Stephen Nwatu in a text message toVanguard.
His text read: “The (police) command through the operatives of the state criminal intelligence and investigations department have commenced a full scale investigation into the incident with a view to finding out the circumstances surrounding the incident as well as those involved among other things.”