•‘We have discovered the truth and apologised to him’
Felix Ikem, Nsukka
It has been a mixture of mystery and misery for the family of Kingsley Ekene Eze of Obukpa, in Nsukka Local Government Area (LGA) of Enugu State. In the last three years, the family, blessed with three male children, has been torn apart following the death of their mother, Mrs. Blessing Eze. The entire family has been thrown into unflinching pain and mourning.
As gathered, their journey into the valley of trouble started on May 15, 2017, when Mrs. Eze, then a teacher at Shalom Academy, Nsukka, slumped in the school’s staff room, after she had finished conducting the morning assembly.
She was promptly rushed to Akulue Hospital, near the school. After several tests were conducted on her, the medical director of the hospital informed Eze that his wife was down with stroke.
Narrating the incident to Daily Sun, Eze said he was devastated by the outcome of the diagnosis. According to him, since he married his wife, she had never been exposed to anything that could bring stroke her way.
“She was such a jovial woman. She confided in me whatever she felt that troubled her,” he said.
As her condition got worse, she was referred to Parklane Hospital, Enugu. But there was no bed space at Parklane. And she was moved to Ntasiobi Hospital, yet there was no improvement.
Said he: “I became apprehensive. The next day, I went to Memphis Hospital, where another test was conducted. The doctor there told me that her case could not be handled at Ntasiobi, and he advised an urgent transfer.
“After being transferred to Memphis, again, my medical adviser told me to transfer her to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu. But Memphis refused to refer her to UNTH. It was a fierce battle between me and the medical doctors at Memphis. Eventually, they gave me a bill of more than N500,000.
“After two days at UNTH, the doctor told me that she would be referred to Memphis because the surgical operation she needed could only be done at Memphis. When I got to Memphis, they asked me to pay N2 million for the operation – N1 million deposit and the balance within 48 hours. I rallied round for the N1 million from relatives, friends and colleagues.”
Eze said his brother-in-law, Chinedu, gave him N30,000 while his mother-in-law also gave him N50,000.
He continued: “When I went back to the hospital the following day with Chinedu, the doctor told me that my wife was gone. But what baffled me was that he couldn’t allow me to see her corpse.
“I went back to clear my bills, so that I could bury my wife, but the hospital staff were not forthcoming. I became furious with the doctors, having suffered so much. I confronted one of them and demanded that my wife’s corpse be released to me. Surprisingly, the doctor told me that my wife was still alive. He even took me to the intensive care unit (ICU) where she was, and I confirmed that she was still alive, though unconscious.
“They continued with the treatment, but, sadly three days later, she died. That was June 25, 2017.
“All these happened in the presence of Chinedu, her brother. We took her corpse back to our community. We, including Chinedu, deposited her corpse at Faith Foundation Hospital, Nsukka.
“Memphis gave me a bill of N750,000 to pay. I could not clear everything. I had to write an undertaking that I would pay the outstanding N75,000 after her burial.
“We informed both the immediate and extended family of her death and fixed a date for her burial. It was to take place on June 30, 2017. All the drinks to be used for her burial were bought from my father-in-law and I paid a better part of the money. His truck was hired to convey those drinks to my house for the ceremony.”
But he said it was surprising that he was soon accused of foul play, arrested and thrown into a cell on the night preceding his wife’s funeral. He said that rumours started flying around that she died of injury she sustained from beatings she received from him.
Eze said that her parents were somehow forced to believe the allegation by some members of the extended family that he beat Blessing to the extent that she went into coma, thereby leading to her death.
He was subsequently taken to the police station in Nsukka, where he was detained for two days. With that development, the burial ceremony was automatically cancelled. Two days later, Eze was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Enugu. He was later charged to court and subsequently remanded in Enugu prisons, where he stayed for nine months.
While in prison, Eze said all efforts to get him released by one Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Simeon Ugwueze, then director of Justice and Peace in the diocese, proved abortive.
Pursuing justice, his family members filed a case in court. The bereaved husband claimed that the judge ruled that anyone who believed that Eze was responsible for his wife’s death should come forward to prosecute the case but nobody showed up, and the case was subsequently withdrawn from court.
Corroborating Eze’s account, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Edith Ugwu, told the reporter that her family had been living in pain since the incident.
Though Eze’s father-in-law died about two years ago, Mrs. Ugwu said the family later discovered that their son-in-law was innocent of all the allegations against him.
According to her, he never quarrelled with his wife for the period they lived as husband and wife.
“When my husband was sick, Eze bankrolled all the medical expenses. He has been so nice to us. It was our extended family members who deceived us into accusing him of killing his wife, my daughter. Even before my husband died, he called us together and told us that Eze was innocent of those allegations against him. Before Eze was arrested, I did all I could to make them reason with me that he was innocent, but they wouldn’t listen.
“We, therefore, apologized to Eze for all the allegations we levelled against him,” she said.
The deceased’s brother, Chinedu, explained that members of the family were indeed lured into accusing Eze of killing his wife.
He recalled how his father, a few months before his death, came to realise that the family members were deceived into accusing Eze of murdering his own wife.
“My father, however, told us to make peace with Eze and apologise to him,” Chinedu said.
It was gathered that the body of the late Mrs. Blessing Eze has remained in the mortuary at Faith Foundation since her death, even as preparations are in top gear to bury her soon.