- Instead of dying, he went blind
… Says I’m paying for my sins
By Lawrence Enyoghasu
TWICE, Chief Pius Chukwuma Okoli has survived death. The fair-skinned 72 year old former police officer from Ndi Owu (Mgbom) Orumba North, Anambra State has been faced with two life-threatening situations and has miraculously survived. The most recent was two years ago when he attempted suicide by swallowing eight sachets of rat poison after being duped of N120 million by his business partners. Though, he survived the attempt, his life never remained the same as he thereafter went blind.
The first time was as a child. Then, in his community, Mgbom, before 1944, the birth of twins was seen as an abomination and a taboo in any family that had them. Though the government and missionaries had frowned at such norm, the people of Mgbom held it high and kept to it until May 5, 1944 when Okoli’s mother, Dumebi Nwaezeagu defied the custom.
When Dumebi realised she had given birth to twins and knowing the consequences, she attempted to save her children by fleeing the community.
Narrating his story to Saturday Sun, Okoli said that his grandmother was the traditional nurse that assisted his mother during the delivery. “Immediately she saw us, she ran back to her house. She raised the alarm that her daughter had committed a taboo. My mother did not wait for the villagers to gather, she took refuge at St. Lawrence Catholic Church located at the outskirts of the community. It was there that we took refuge for 14 days before the missionaries convinced my father to accept us. Though the government had put a ban on killing of twins, the community held the norm in high esteem. If it was left to the community and my father, we would have been killed. But we survived because of the intervention of government and the church,” Okoli narrated.
As one of the first set of twins that survived in Mgbom community, Okoli resorted to fighting anybody who called him “abominable child.” Like Okoli, his mother also came up with a survival strategy. She started to render free child delivery service in the community. With that, the rejected family was gradually accepted.
“I was a very troublesome boy. I fought to change my status. Most especially in the community school, nobody looks for my trouble. I made sure that my fight does not end in one place or one day. Most children were told to stay away from me. Nevertheless, I am very lucky. My mother must have been isolated but she was trading and making enough money for herself. She goes to villages to trade. Apart from that, her profession was midwifery. If 1000 children were delivered from 1940 to 1980 in the community, she delivered 75 percent of them. She did all these for about 40 years in the community without payment. We were isolated but we had everything we ever wanted. They called me the abominable child,” he narrated.
The second time Okoli had another close shave with death was two years ago. He dared death in the face by trying to take his own life. He was allegedly duped by some of his employees. According to him, a businessman had contracted his company, Herbex Agro Nigeria Ltd, to supply about 20 units of 40 feet container of Guarany sprinkler, worth about N184m.
He said he sold all his 15 shops at Alaba market to raise money for the contract only to realise he’s been duped. As a result, Okoli decided to take his own life. He swallowed eight pieces of popular rat poison called, Commando.
“As I told you, I never lacked money as a child. The luck followed me till I joined police and after. When I was in police I was doing business; I had four lorries making returns to me. When I got tired of being a police man I submitted my resignation letter, my boss then, Mr. M.C. Omege gave me three months to reconsider my decision, and there was nothing to reconsider because I had my plan. I went into business and I started to make Pecocide, for seven years I was making N100,000 everyday. Two years ago, I had a business deal that involved a lot of money. I sold my 15 shops at Alaba Market. I gathered all I had to import 20 pieces of 40 feet container of Guarany goods. It was valued around N184m. I lost all through the conspiracy of a gang.
“Afterwards, I attempted suicide. I came to the office and settled my sole agent in Lagos State with N4.4m. He asked me where I was going, I told him that I would join him later. I sat comfortably and took eight sachets of Commando, a specialised pesticide for rat. If you grind and mix a pill of Commando with a cup of rice, if a rat tastes a grain of that rice, that rat will die in two hours, but I took eight sachets. That night I went home, expecting sleep to come and probably be my last. I stayed all night and didn’t sleep. In the morning, I vomited the drugs I took. It was then that my people knew what was going on and took me to the hospital. I had already been having eye problem, but after that suicide attempt, I could not control my eyes again. I finally went blind,” he narrated.
Law of Karma
Science might have proven that Okoli went blind as a result of the substance he took in an attempt to take his own life but to him it was karma catching up with him. He said when his uncle brought him to Lagos State, he played some pranks on one-eyed old woman, called Mrs Bello.
“We hardly had enough in the house. My uncle would give me one penny to cook food. I was a good rogue. There is one woman, she had only one eye, I think what I did to her was what affected me. Whenever my brother gives me money for food and noticed that it would not be enough, I will go to the woman. I would throw a stone behind her, in an attempt for her to see the object, she would turn, in that split second. I would steal fish from her and pay her for the once she saw me take. After all these, she would call me her best customer. The stealing continued until luck ran against me. I was caught.
Unfortunately or otherwise, she told them to allow me go, that it was hunger that led me to it and that I was her best customer. One day, after cooking the food and dishing for my uncle, he threw the food at me and complained the fish was not much. It was that moment that I told him that I have been stealing the fish he has been enjoying. He was shocked and ashamed. I didn’t enjoy the soup also because I was feeling guilty”, he said.
Abandoned by his children
Notwithstanding his state of blindness, Okoli still runs his business. He is a very strong willed person but needs people he could trust around him to help him. “I run it with the grace of God and the good people around me. None of my children is interested in my business. It is not their fault. I would only say that my children are jealous of me. All what I have I made through my sweat,” he stated.