- Says I can’t cope with the burden of taking care of them alone
Linus Oota, Lafia
In a span of four months, Angela Orkuma’s life moved through a tragic cycle that ended in her committing what is best described with the Shakespearean expression of “murder most foul.”
In the beginning, Orkuma, 39, lost her husband of 17 years, Terlumun Orkuma, 41, to herdsmen attack. After surviving another herder’s attack in a refugee camp, she went through the hardship of caring for four children ––Torkwase, 8, Aondogu, 6, Mwuse, 4 and Terngu 2.
Eventually overwhelmed by rigours of life, she decided to lessen the burden by cold-bloodedly throwing two of her children into a well, where they were discovered dead a week later. The horror story is currently reverberating across the length and breadth of Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The long road to hell
Speaking to Saturday Sun in Kardoroko, Keana Local Government Area, where she was brought to by the village vigilante, the weeping woman gave vent to her pent-up frustration.
After the death of her husband, Angela Orkuma relocated to Lafia with her children and took refuge at a primary school in Kardoroko, Keana Local Government Area. A few weeks later, marauding herdsmen struck the camp and dispersed the refugees. She became stranded with the children, without food to feed them. As the rain sets in, the helplessness deepened. Profoundly frustrated with life, she decided to return to the village with her children where she met a few villagers who had defied fears and threats from herdsmen to return to the farm.
However, there was no respite for her. All the houses in the community were completely burnt down. What was left standing were roofless, broken edifices, one of which she occupied with her children. Her initial thought was to get some relations of her husband to assist her on the farm, instead of roaming about homeless in Lafia with four children.
Unfortunately, returning to Jiza was akin to jumping from the frying pan to the fire. There was nobody to help her on the farm and there was no food to feed the children. When
she reached the breaking point, Orkuma took the brutal decision to reduce the number of mouths to feed––her heart was hardened enough by frustration to throw two of her children into a deep well. Due to the community’s sparse population, the children’s cries for help went unnoticed and their bodies went undiscovered for one week. A villager who noticed their absence and persistently probed as to their whereabouts aided the early discovery of the crime. On June 24, Orkuma, overwhelmed by the neighbour’s inquisition––and perhaps by guilt––revealed to the community what became of her two missing children.
She expressed no misgiving about her decision. “What do they wantmetodo?IlovethembutI have no choice because they kept crying of hunger everyday and I don’t know what to do. There was virtually nothing for me to take care of them. So, I have to let them go to join their father,” she railed.
According to her, the decision to terminate the lives of her first two children, Torkwase and Aondogu, boy and girl respectively, was impulsive.
“I just woke up one morning to take their lives. I cannot tell what came over me to kill the two innocent children that did not offend me in any way,” She wailed: “May God forgive me. I have committed the worst offence against humanity. I have ruined my life.”
More grief for a departed husband
During the interview, Orkuma also narrated to Saturday Sun how her husband was killed on March 17, 2018, by rampaging herdsmen. She and her husband, respectively from Tse Agber and Tse Tsue villages in Jiza, Keana Local Government Area, had been married for 17 years.
While herdsmen raids had become common in neighbouring villages in Jiza, their village had been relatively calm until that fateful day. The family had returned from the farm and were preparing for bed in the evening when marauding herdsmen overran their community. The sound of gunshots and cries of agony created a pandemonium that had everyone running helter-skelter for safety, and in the ensued chaos, her husband who was trying to flee with their children was gunned down.
It was a tragic day for the community. At least 38 people were reportedly killed in a raid that left corpses strewn all over the village, while several others are still unaccounted for. Recalling the gory details brought Orkuma to tears, weeping uncontrollably.
The absence of her husband, she lamented, was the cause of the serious problem and challenge she now faces in her life. “I could not find even daily food for the children. There was nobody around to help with the situation; I felt the best way was to reduce the number of the children because their daily cries of hunger was another problem. Even myself, when I was hungry, there was nobody to run to. The few villagers, who summoned the courage to return, deserted us. They turned their back on my plight. They were always saying they don’t have. All my relations and that of my husband were wiped out in the attack. Others disappeared and their whereabouts is not known till date, the few around have no solution to my plight,” she said
She paused to catch her breath, then continued: “My husband’s death is still like a dream to me even after four months. There is no day I don’t feel the loss and the loneliness inside of me. Life has not been the same without him around.”
The challenge of her husband’s demise was too daunting for her
“There was no starting point for me and the four children he left behind. Our food items were burnt down to ashes. We have nowhere we can call home. Worse still, there was nobody around to help me take care of the children.”
The cumulation of these challenges and the attendant psychological trauma pushed the 39-year- old to the tipping point, whereby her quest for respite ended in the murder of her two children.
Waiting on the village head
Fred Targba was one of the villagers who confronted her when the two children were missing. The gruesome revelation left him short of words. “I can’t say anything for now. I’m very surprised at what she did. My main concern now is how to retrieve the corpses from the deep well. We will mobilise young men to see what we can do,” he said. Asked whether the matter will be taken to the police, Targba said she will be taken to the village head first, and thereafter, a decision will be taken there.