From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Tragedy struck in Okpako-Ejemah, in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, when a family of three was consumed in fire believed to have been a result of sabotage.
Sources revealed that the home of the family was set ablaze by suspected cultists, who committed the crime at night, killing the occupants, Alhaji Hamza Garuba, his wife and a stepson.
Daily Sun gathered from Garuba’s younger brother, Muhammed Sani, that the suspects, who were five in number, invaded his late brother’s house at about 10pm and attempted to rob the family.
According to Sani, one of the bandits attempted to rape his brother’s wife before the husband, but did not succeed, adding that the deceased stabbed the bandit to death in resistance.
He said: “I believe the stabbing of that criminal may have infuriated other gang members, who quickly ran out of the house, locked the entrance and set the house ablaze.
“My brother, his wife and a stepson were locked up inside the house, while the house was on fire. Nobody was at hand to rescue them as all of them were burnt beyond recognition.
“I don’t know why people should contemplate carrying out such a wicked act on my brother. My brother was a trailer driver. He was such a quiet and a peaceful man, who went about his business without making trouble.
“He was born in Rivers State and had lived in the state for decades. His late wife was from Kalabari and they had been living peacefully without any problem.”
Speaking further, Sani debunked media reports linking his brother’s death to the recent confrontation between the Hausa community and task force members in Onne, Port Harcourt, saying Garuba was killed by criminals who broke into his apartment.
Confirming the incident, the South-South, South-East coordinator of Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Musa Saidu, said Garuba was killed by bandits.
He said mischief makers wanted to cause disunity between the Hausa community and the people of Eleme by attributing a clear incident of armed robbery and arson to ethnic and religious clashes.
He stated that: “The incident at Okpako-Ejemah was a clear case of robbery and arsonist attack. The young man and his family were killed by arsonists, who set their house ablaze. Hausa people have co-habited with their host community and they don’t have any issue.”
Alhaji Saidu called on the police to carry out a thorough investigation on the matter.
Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident, saying two persons have already been arrested in connection with the attack.