Tension is mounting in Ogbunike, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, following the killing of a 40-year-old Nkiru Okoye.
It was gathered that the deceased, a wife of a mechanical engineer, Emenike Okoye, was beaten to death by her brother-in-law, George Okoye, over the ownership of some disputed landed property.
George Okoye is the elder brother to Emenike Okoye.
The suspect, who is currently in police custody was said to have invaded the home of the victim, alongside some of his immediate family members and attacked Emenike and his wife.
The incident happened on July 19, 2022.
The husband of the deceased, Emenike, who is also inflicted with severe injuries is currently hospitalised at Isaac Chira Memorial Hospital and Maternity, Awkuzu, Oyi LGA.
An international award winning author, Chimamanda Adichie, hailed from the same community as the deceased.
Confirming the incident, the state police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said the suspect had been arrested and investigation had begun on the matter.
Ikenga said, “We have a suspect in our custody and the case is still being investigated. Please, more information will be communicated as the development continues to unfold.”
Narrating the incident that led to his wife’s death, Emenike, who spoke on the hospital bed on Sunday, said he was at home on July 19, preparing for work, while his late wife (Nkiru) was also preparing to travel for a meeting of Umuada (Daughters of her kindred in Abba), when his elder brother (George) led his wife (Uzonna) and their three children to his house around 6am and attacked him and his wife for no reason.
He said, “I was preparing for work, my wife was preparing the children for school and to also travel home for a meeting of Umuada. George and his wife, Uzonna and their son, Somtochukwu and twin daughters, invaded my house around 6am on July 19. They overpowered us, beat us to stupor, and left.
“Later on that day, when my children had gone to school, at around 7am, they returned with some persons, carrying dangerous weapons, including axe.
“They dragged my wife outside the house, hit and killed her with axe and chair. She fell and died. When I resisted their move to drag me outside too, they broke my hand with an axe, dragged me outside and started hitting me with the axe all over my body until I passed on. You can see the cut on my eyes.
“They left me thinking that I was also dead. But miraculously, I escaped death as some members of our local vigilante group who arrived the scene drove me to hospital.”
Emenike, who is with five children – two boys and three girls – between the ages of three to 11 years, appealed for justice over the death of his wife.
He is also seeking the help of relevant authorities and interested individuals to relocate him to better hospital where he would fully recover.
On the cause of the crisis, Emenike said, “George said right from when our mother (Mrs Adaoba Okoye) was alive, he claimed to be our landlord. He is not the first born, yet he claims the ownership of the entire compound and always fight with all of us. I had not married my wife when this crisis over the possession of property started in my family.
“So, she had nothing to do with this. Why killing her for nothing? This crisis also led to the death of our mother and our eldest brother. The community had intervened and the property was shared, with him taken the larger part. I took mine without complaining. Later, he started laying claims to the passage that leads to my house.
“When I laid dwarf perimeter fence, he pulled it down, and even reported me to the kindred. I left it. A member of our kindred, later intervened and wanted to pay him some money to hands-off the portion, he agreed initially, but when it was time to start the construction, he rejected the offer. Only for him to invade my compound and attack me, killing my wife in the process,” he added.
Corroborating this, the eldest and only surviving daughter of the family, Mrs Monica Onwuegbusi (nee Okoye), said she had initiated several reconciliatory moves to bring lasting peace to her immediate family but George (the suspect), kicked against all.
Onwuegbusi, a 68-year-old widow, presented some of the letters of the meeting she initiated, including that signed by the leadership of Umunwana family of Umueri village, Ogbunike on May 17, 2006; and another one written by a religious group on October 11, 2005 and on January 27, 2006, respectively inviting the family to reconcile the difference between George and Emenike, but according to her, they were fruitless.
She appealed to the state Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, through the state Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng; the President, Mjaor General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); women groups and non-governmental organisations to come to their rescue by uncovering and prosecuting those behind the mayhem, as well as assisting in raising the five children who are currently under her custody.
Also speaking, members of Ogbunike Daughters Association (Umuada Ogbunike), led by Mrs Nkechinyeru Nwoye and Ms Ogochukwu Okoye, described the incident as abomination.
They mandated the local vigilante and the men of the community to double efforts towards bringing justice for Emenike and his late wife.
The younger brother of the late Nkiru, Mr Chidiebele Okelue, said Abba people would never rest until justice was assured, even as he pleaded with the government to hasten action towards resolving the impasse.
While the suspect is still in the police custody, the community was worried that the whereabouts of his wife, Mrs Uzonna Okoye, daughters and son, Somtochukwu Okoye, were still unknown, a development which the community where the deceased, Mrs Nkiru, hailed from, saw as an aberration, threatening that they could take the law into their hands if nothing was done to quickly bring justice to their sister and the in-law (Emenike).