Woman found in septic tank kept diary of torture

Thursday September 16 2021
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The Onebes on their wedding day. Family and other sources close to the inquiries told this newspaper that Ms Asio, 62, faced physical brutality and at times relocated to live in a rented home in Buziga, another Kampala suburb. PHOTO / COURTESY

By Benon Tumusiime
By Andrew Bagala

Immaculate Mary Blessing Asio, the missing wife of Francis Onebe, whose body is presumed to be the one that police retrieved from their marital home’s septic tank last Wednesday, feared for her life, according to multiple sources.

Family and other sources close to the inquiries told this newspaper that Ms Asio, 62, faced physical brutality and at times relocated to live in a rented home in Buziga, another Kampala suburb close to their marital home in Munyonyo. 

Her troubles stretched for years, but worsened from December 2019, and she began documenting the torture that she endured at the hands of unnamed family members and the imminent risk she faced.

In one entry on December 3, 2019, Ms Asio pleaded that “let all that I have struggled together be safe one day when I am gone”.

She was the chief executive of Pentagon Security Services Ltd, which reportedly employs up to 5,000 private guards. Asio also owned another business in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where she commuted regularly.

Police took Mr Onebe, an auditor and co-owner of the security firm, and have kept him for almost a week on holding murder charges, without arraigning him in court beyond the constitutional 48-hour threshold.

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A source on the investigations told this newspaper that Mr Onebe, whom detectives picked up amid reports that he planned to fly out of the country, is likely to be freed today on bond.

 “Every day I feel I am not safe yet in my own house. I know they don’t like me after my struggling (sic) as a house wife for all these years? Why do you hate me like this, my dear?” one of Ms Asio’s entries reads in parts, a family member who accessed her diary said.

Slightly a month after her December 2019 entry, Ms Asio was more explicit in an entry made on January 21, 2020 that she titled, difficult life full of threats and uncertainty.

In it, she said that “even after finishing my successful wedding, things have never changed. I laboured to organise myself, but no one can appreciate my efforts.”

“My business and hard work seem to have brought me problems with dia (sic) ones. I sleep out, but sleep cannot come. I sleep while fearing for my life. What did I do in this world that has caused me all these worries?” she wrote.

Besides the lucrative private security business in Kampala, Ms Asio, who disappeared on January 6, 2021, owned an undisclosed enterprise in Kenya.

In an interview with our sister television station, NTV-Uganda, which aired on March 2, her husband Onebe accused state security agencies of abducting his wife and said he had done everything possible that a man can do to trace his wife.

“My children are asking me, ‘daddy, is mummy dead or alive?’ I said I don’t know. When the security people who are investigating this saw her, they then said, ‘mzee, don’t lose hope. Your mama (wife) is with security’,” he said then.

He added: “If they have killed her, then let them give me the body, I bury because I am being tormented. If she is alive, let me at least talk to her and that is all because I am being tormented so much.”

In a dramatic turn of events, police, acting on a clue by a former guard at Onebe’s residence on Dr Kaggwa Rise in Munyonyo, raided the home last Tuesday and spotted a body believed to be that of Asio in a septic tank.

The slightly decomposed corpse was retrieved and taken for autopsy at the City Mortuary in Mulago.

Detectives took samples from the body which, together with saliva sample from Asio’s daughter Ivy, have been submitted for examination at the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) in Wandegeya to ascertain DNA match after Mr Onebe told police he was unsure if the recovered body was that of his missing wife.

In all her personal documentation, which is now of interest for investigators, Ms Asio does not name the person(s) she believed to be after her life, but spoke of living without love at home and asking:

“What have I done that does not make you happy all the time? … God will always listen to my prayers. I love you God because you cannot be bribed.”

Another source close to the family said she also questioned how she would end up “in this world”.

“Will my people come to my rescue? What if I will be alone at one moment when I am targeted?” she reportedly wrote in a note addressed to an unnamed person that she reverentially addressed as “my dear”.

In that chit, Ms Asio sought apology in a “big way” because “for long we have had these issues disturbing us daily”.

“Today I write that you forgive me all that have been happening. I will never do what will raise your [anger] on me again. I will be always be good to you. Blessings and love with all my heart and with sincerity,” she noted.

There is no account of what transpired in the intervening months until December 2020 when Ms Asio, in apparent reference to being forgiven, made an entry “with love and joy” in which she thanked the unnamed person for “changing your hearts towards me. I will always remain good to you, forever!”

However, another undated entry showed that life tightened for Ms Asio over her businesses in Nairobi that she said was causing problems for her with people close to her, although it remained unclear if she authored the note before or after apologising and being forgiven.

 In that chit, she noted that available records show that “whenever I return home, there is no sign of happiness and love in the house, but fear comes to engulf me.

“No one loves what I say, no one loves what I talk. Instead, I am afraid all the time.”

Ms Asio disappeared from her matrimonial home in Munyonyo on January 6, only for a body that police believe is hers to be found in the septic tank at her home last Wednesday. 

Four days later, on Sunday, detectives discovered that a sack they presumed to have been filled with stones and tied to the dead body to force it to settle at the bottom of the septic tank, instead contained a human skull and skeleton.

Investigators have sent samples taken from the bone structure for DNA analysis to ascertain whether it could belong to a house-help at Onebe’s house, who is reported to have vanished around the same period her employer, Ms Asio disappeared. 

Last week, detectives were prompted to carry out a search in the rooms and retrieve documents after recovering the two bodies of yet-to-be identified persons in the septic tank.

A police source said their officers found that the interior of the house had been renovated and they could not get substantive evidence, but a diary of the missing Asio was well preserved.

 She reported recorded in her entries a day when she was battered and choke-held until her breathing nearly failed.

Ms Asio, according to sources briefed on the investigations, documented that her concerned relatives held a meeting with her husband and in-laws to resolve their differences as a couple, but the interface was not productive and ended in exchange of expletives and threats.

At one point, she fled her marital home and sought refuge in a rented house in Buziga, a few kilometres from her marital home in Muyenga, another Kampala outskirt, but her husband engaged the in-laws and she returned after he promised to change his behaviour. 

The revelation in the diary has prompted the detectives to widen their investigation and carry out more interviews with relatives of missing Asio in order to corroborate the accounts.

Mr Charles Twiine, the spokesperson of Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate, confirmed that domestic violence is part of the many leads that they are inquiring into.

“We are talking to several people, but most of the information we have obtained is critical to our investigations and it isn’t right to share it with you because it will jeopardise our investigations,” he said yesterday.

Police investigations revealed that the couple --- that have one child from their relationship --- have had ups and downs in their relationship since they met in 1982. 

In 1993, they separated and Mr Onebe left for Nairobi, Kenya, where he stayed for years.

He moved on and even got another partner with whom he allegedly sired four children.

After a decade or so of operating in Kenya, Mr Onebe met a now richer Immaculate Asio again and they reconciled. 

In early 2000, they formalised their relationship with Ms Asio introducing the then fiancée to her parents in Kaberemaido District in eastern Uganda and the love-smitten duo eventually wedded in the church.

In statements to police, relatives Mr Onebe kept contact with the other woman in his life and their four children, resulting in tension, rivalry and clashes between the two families. 

Police yesterday said the alleged enmity is another line of their investigations, if the recovered body is established to be that of Asio.

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