From Jude Chinedu, Enugu
Mrs Millicent Amadikwa, a 36-year-old mother of four and her family stepped into the New Year with high hopes and expectations. Top on her prayer request was that God should intervene in her marriage that was undergoing some challenges.
The 36-year-old tomato and pepper seller who lived with her husband, Ifeanyi Amadikwa, and children at 86 Nkwubor Road Emene, in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State woke up early in the morning of Tuesday, January 4, and prayed with her kids while hoping for a rewarding day at the market.
But as Millicent left for the market later that morning, she could not have envisaged that it would be the last time she would see her children alive.
The kids, Chimdalu Amadikwa aged 11 (Mr Amadikwa’s step daughter), Amarachi Amadikwa, 8, and 4-year-old Ebubechukwu Amadikwa, were all full of life as they bid their mother farewell with excitement, hoping to welcome her later in the evening.
Their father, Ifeanyi Amadikwa, a 54-year-old Dubai returnee, told his wife that he would not go to his shop on the fateful day as he wanted to wash some of his clothes.
When Millicent eventually came home around 7pm, she was surprised that the kids did not run to her as they usually did. She rather saw her husband stitching his torn trousers outside the house.
She curiously asked her son whom she had gone to the market with but who came home earlier where his siblings were. When it was clear that he did not have an idea, she asked her husband who was surprisingly not interested in the whereabouts of the kids.
“I continued asking him but he kept directing me to different places. I ran around the entire Emene looking for these children. When I came back, I asked him why he was not joining me in the search for these kids. He said it didn’t concern him.”
Then she decided to eat. “I was just about starting to eat when he went straight to the freezer. When he got there, he said that the kids had closed the freezer. He asked me what they were looking for in the freezer.
“When I looked, I saw that he had opened the freezer. That freezer is usually open so I was surprised that it was closed in the first place. So, when he opened it, he asked me to come and see where these children were playing and squeezed themselves in the process.
“When I heard that, I rushed to the freezer and saw the eldest on top of the other two inside the freezer. I was bringing them out and my husband assisted me. I noticed that they were motionless.”
Her loud screams at the sight of the lifeless bodies of her three children alerted the neighbours who ran to the scene and quickly arranged for a bus which conveyed them to a nearby hospital.
“The doctor checked them and confirmed them dead. Even our pastor came and prayed all he could but nothing happened. From there, we took them to the Police Area Command where we made entry.
“They asked my husband what happened since he was the one at home and he explained. I also was asked if there was anyone I was suspecting and I told them that the only person who could do such was my husband. I said that because he had, for a long time, threatened to kill me and the children,” Millicent narrated.
One of the residents who did not want his name in print told our reporter that Amadikwa had told him sometime in December that he was suspecting his wife of infidelity and would soon send her packing as a result.
“I told him he should investigate properly before sending the woman away. I advised him to be patient with his wife because of his children. I don’t know if that could be the reason behind this action. I am shocked. This doesn’t feel like reality at all,” their neighbour said.
But according to Millicent, her husband had made it a habit to threaten her and the children with death at every opportunity and he actually sent her packing some few days before the incident. She said the only issue they had was that her husband asked her to stop her business.
“He told me to stop going out but I refused because he doesn’t bring money for anything. I told him I couldn’t stop my business unless he assured me that he would be providing for our needs.
“He has money but when there is need in the house he refuses to bring anything; yet he doesn’t want me to do my business with which I feed my children.
“Each time I come back from my business, I buy food for the family but he would flare up asking me why I left the house early in the morning and came back in the evening. He wants me to just stay in the house. Whenever he is angry, he resorts to threats. He had told me that he would kill the children and when he did that, he had so many people who would easily release him. He would say he has a lot of people who will release him from detention.
“I had even called his sister and complained about his numerous threats. I also called my brother and told him about the threats. My brother told me to pack my things and go on December 27, 2021.
“When I finished packing, I pleaded with him my husband to allow me to go with the kids because I don’t want them to be harmed. I told him that he would kill them if I left them with him. He said that I could not go with the kids.
“He went and locked the gate with a big chain. I called my elder brother and explained to him what was happening. He asked me to give my husband the phone. My brother reprimanded him.
“He told him that even though we are not wealthy, that I came from someone’s home. When I got back the phone, my brother told me that he would come. He was yet to come and this thing happened,” she said.
Millicent said that she had actually wondered why her husband brought back home the disused deep freezer from the shop: “He brought that freezer back from his shop two days before this incident. I asked him why he brought it back and he told me he wanted to sell it. I told him it made no sense that you brought back a spoilt freezer to the house so you could sell it.”
The devastated woman recalled that while she was carrying the bodies of the children, she had noticed some whitish substance drip from their mouths and stained her clothes.
“When he was asked to explain what happened since he was at home with the kids, he said that he went out earlier in the day to buy chemicals to treat our well. The policeman told him that he killed the kids with the same chemical but he denied it.
“He later admitted that he gave them tea. I am sure that the thing he gave them cannot be tea because their mouth turned black in colour. He is yet to accept that he killed those children.
“I am suspecting him because as this was happening, he never cried. Even at the hospital and at the Area Command, he didn’t show any emotion.”
Millicent’s world has suddenly been turned on its head. “There was nothing I could do. If I had powers to reverse life, I would have called these children back to life,” she cried.
“I got married to Ifeanyi Amadikwa in 2014. That was eight years ago. By then, I had already given birth to Chimdalu who is now in Primary 5. Amarachi is 8 years old and in Primary 2 and Ebubechukwu is 4 years old and in Nursery 2.
“Since my husband travelled to Dubai and came back last year, he hasn’t been doing anything. He said he needs rest so he stays at home to sleep. He wants me to just stay at home with him. He kept all the money he came back with in the bank leaving me to suffer and fend for the children alone.”
She lamented that investigation into the case had been stalled because of lack of funds for autopsy. According to her, a medical doctor said that it would cost about N900,000 to carry out the autopsy on the three bodies.
“He has continued to deny knowledge of what happened to the kids. I asked him to bring money for the autopsy but he said he was waiting for his relatives to bring the money.
“But his relatives have not even shown interest in the case. They haven’t even been here to console me or to even show empathy. I’ve only seen them when they bring food for him in the cell.
“It is not easy for me to lose those three children. There is nothing I can do to give birth to an 11-year-old now. That child cooks for me and washes the clothes of her siblings. I am very sad. I am really tired. I need help.
“People should come to my aid. I need justice in this case. I am calling on the federal and state governments to help me. I don’t know what to do about this.
“There is nothing I can do to see these three kids again. He did this to me because there’s nothing I can do to him. He told me that his relatives are wealthy; that they can do anything to save his life if he killed me and the kids.”
In the meantime, Ifeanyi Amadikwa is currently cooling off in one of the detention facilities at the Police CID headquarters, Enugu.
The command’s spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe said that the state Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Lawal, commiserated with the mother and other relatives of the children, assuring that a thorough investigation would be conducted to unravel the mystery behind the incident.
The Commissioner also ordered the Deputy Commissioner in-charge of the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department to conduct a conclusive investigation into the case and ensure everyone found culpable is brought to book.