From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Imagine this scenario. You have a lover, a man to whom you hoped to get married. But all of a sudden you begin to hear rumours that he had gone to marry another woman, leaving you out there in a cold that is worse than the current one being dispensed by the harmattan, the cold wind blowing across the country. You check and, lo and behold, it is true. You suddenly hit on a fiendish idea. You buy a bottle or gallon of fuel and hide it somewhere. You invite him over to your house. He comes without suspecting anything. You bolt the door. While he is wondering what you are up to, you bring out the fuel from where you had hidden it, empty the content on his body. Then you strike a match and throw it at him. And phew, he burst into a raging flame!
Such is the story of Oluchi and her boyfriend/fiancé, Onyeka, from Abia State. When Saturday Sun broke the news penultimate week, details were scanty. But as more details continued to emerge, the newspaper can now explain how and why the scary incident happened. The story is pathetic as it is strange. Those interviewed said they have never heard anything like it before. Hence many of them insist on not talking about it, for fear of something worse happening to them. You soon got to learn some tricks being deployed in a bid to discourage further enquiries into the case: those you were trying to talk to about it were not at home on the day the incident happened. Those at home were nowhere to be found because they had all left for their businesses.
Those who reluctantly agreed to talk to you did so, on the promise that you would not use their full names, insisting only on the use of either the first or the last. Even till today, about two weeks after, they still speak about it in hushed tones, as if Amadioha or something would strike them dead if they raised their voices a little higher. Worse still, they made you swear with Ahianjoku that you would not use either their full names or photos. Even the man that was gracious enough to supply you with some of the photos of the incident was not exempted.
So what was the story? Oluchi, in her mid-30s, and who hailed from Abia State was allegedly dating a younger man said to be in his 20s, one Onyeka from Arondizuogu in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State. The two resided in the same axis: Obiohia/Ngwa Roads in Ndiegoro, Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State. Onyeka was said to have resided on Lagos/Isiekenaesi Street, while his lover lived on Onyekàchi Street. There, Oluchi, who reportedly owned a big boutique in front of the house where she lived, sold clothes and other fashion accessories. Onyeka was said to be a bakery worker, making the former more financially wealthier and comfortable. As a result, she contributed more in lubricating the financial wheels of the relationship over the years, without qualms. More than that, she took care of the financial needs of her boyfriend/fiancé at will.
Genesis of trouble
The two lovers were said to have started dating about eight years ago. A source told Saturday Sun that while the relationship lasted, Oluchi took financial responsibilities of Onyeka so much that he did not lack any good thing, despite his meagre salary. Although there was no formal marriage proposal, the source said, the late lady was doing things for him with the hope that he would eventually marry her. “She considered herself his wife and he too made her believe the same and in the eyes of everyone, their marriage was just a matter of time,” the source who insisted on remaining anonymous, added. But, unfortunately, that was not to be, nor will it ever be.
The shape and colour of betrayal
Although there was no formal proposal, their relationship was so close-knitted that they were already being seen as husband and wife. People were only waiting for the day of the solemnization of their mutual love. While Oluchi was engrossed in the relationship, and making all the necessary financial sacrifices to sustain it, she didn’t know that her boyfriend was having an affair with another lady. Somehow, he deftly managed to keep it out of her knowledge. It was alleged that at times, he would collect money from her and use for the same for the upkeep of his new girlfriend, without her knowing.
But who the gods want to kill, they first made mad. Along the line, Onyeka impregnated the new girl and promised to marry her; a development that he also totally kept secret from Oluchi. A tricycle operator who helped this reporter to do most of the legwork for the story said of the incident: “The story is that Onyeka had another girl whom he was dating and along the line, got her impregnated and promised to marry her without opening up to the lady who had been sustaining him financially for long and who had believed that he will get married to her.”
Further details on Onyeka’s marriage
The traditional marriage between Onyeka and his pregnant lover, the reporter gathered, took place on December 28, 2021. It was a low-key affair, the reporter was told. Since it was such a quiet ceremony, Onyeka believed that Oluchi was not in the know. But that was not so. As the Igbo usually say, there’s no how the rain would fall from the sky without the ground knowing. As the news of the traditional marriage filtered into Oluchi’s ears, she was, not surprisingly, devastated by it. It was said that because of the shock, she could not open her shop for two days, on December 29, and 30, 2021. A source added that, perhaps, she used the two days to plan her retaliation strategy.
She was said to have been pained the more by the fact that few days to the traditional marriage, Onyeka had visited to ask for N200, 000 from her, claiming that he wanted to use it for some pressing personal needs. She obliged him without hesitation. What she did not know was that her lover had tricked her into spending the money for the traditional marriage of his new wife.
Commenting on the development, John Odu, a resident of the area, said: “It devastated Oluchi. She never knew that Onyeka had tricked her, that he indeed needed the money to complete the amount being demanded by his bride’s people for the performance of some traditional rites and to pay her bride price.”
Mrs. Esther Madu who lives in the neighbourhood, also told Saturday Sun, “The truth is that the news left Oluchi in a big shock. Anybody who saw her within that period could testify that she changed immediately she got wind of the news. She suddenly lost weight and became withdrawn. In fact, she was so embittered and ashamed that she became something else,”
Another neighbour, Uche, who claimed that Onyeka spoke to some of the neighbours while on hospital bed, said he informed them that after his traditional marriage, Oluchi, on December 31, 2021, invited him over to her house. Convinced that she was not aware of his marriage to another woman, he went there. But that was after he had deceived his newly married wife that he was going for the December 31 cross-over night prayers while at the same time insisting that she must rest because of her condition.
But after leaving home, he allegedly made straight to Oluchi’s place. According to Uche, shortly after he got there, she locked her door, went inside and after a while, emerged with a bucket containing fuel. This she threw at him and quickly set him ablaze. But as he was burning, Oluchi, it was gathered, headed for the door to escape. But Onyeka, already engulfed with fire, reached out and grabbed her as if in a love tango, held her close to his burning body. And, that was how the fire burnt both of them with nobody aware of what was going on
“We only became aware when smoke started coming out of Oluchi’s apartment, followed by strident and deafening shouts of agony from her. We broke in to know what was going on. But by then they had been seriously burnt.” Thereafter, they were rushed to three different hospitals that night. But the health facilities rejected them. Only the fourth agreed to admit them for medical attention, after much pleading. But two days later they died, one after the other.
One of their neighbours, one Mrs. Ikechi, while reacting to the incident, expressed surprise at the incident and how Oluchi suddenly changed and became a stranger she could no longer recognise. Ikechi said she had thought that Oluchi had got over the traumatic incident because she looked “very cheerful and bright,” on the day of the incident.
“I must tell you that nobody expected her to act the way she did,” she said. Another neighbour, Mr. Okoro, noted that while he did not exonerate Onyeka from blame, Oluchi however overreacted by going to the extent that she went, adding that if she did not die from injuries she sustained, the law wouldn’t have set her free over what she did.