The Umuatuegwu Okija community, in the Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, has been thrown into mourning after a family of five was wiped out in a day after a rice meal.
The victims were identified as a commercial motorcyclist, Albert Ndenemenu; his wife, Nwanne, and their three children, whose names had yet to be ascertained as of press time.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Albert and his three children had eaten the rice, which was reportedly prepared by his wife, shortly after he returned from work on Wednesday, August 9, 2017.
After the meal, the victims were said to have started vomiting blood and falling dead.
The incident threw the community into turmoil as many alleged food poisoning.
A resident, who did not want to be identified, said, “The man had just returned from his work when the wife finished preparing the food. As soon as the man and the three children finished eating, they started dying one after the other. They were all vomiting blood.”
Another witness, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Nnwanne, after watching her husband and three children die, collapsed and died as well.
“She was the one that raised the alarm when she saw her family dying one after the other. When people rushed into their compound following her alarm, it was discovered that they were already dead.
“The woman, on seeing the lifeless bodies of her husband and children, slumped and was taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where she also died,” the source stated.
An indigene of the area, Ignatius Okonkwo, told one of our correspondents that the cause of death of the five persons had yet to be ascertained.
He explained that efforts made to prevail on the management of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, where the victims were confirmed dead, to conduct autopsies on the deceased, did not yield any result.
PUNCH Metro learnt that a relative of the family was about depositing the corpses in a mortuary when stories started making the rounds that the victims were poisoned by some residents.
The relative reportedly took the five dead bodies back to the house, where they were lined up in the open for several hours before some members of the family took them to the mortuary.
One of our correspondents saw a video of the family members laid in front of their house in Umuatuegwu Okija.
The video, posted on Facebook by one Don Val, captured some sympathisers and residents lamenting the death and invoking curses on supposed enemies of the family.
It was gathered that three distant relations of the deceased persons had been invited by the police and were being interrogated at the Okija Police Station.
The spokesperson for the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Chris Ngige, denied that the hospital did not cooperate with the family.
He said, “Some people just complain without knowing what they are talking about. You can’t just enter a hospital and say you want to do an autopsy. Is it based on referral or it is the police that want to find out something? Is it a criminal matter? Something must have warranted it and there is a process to follow.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs. Nkeiru Nwode, confirmed the incident, adding that investigations were ongoing.
She said, “I cannot give details now because our attention was called to it just yesterday (Monday). The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area has gone there and investigations are ongoing. Only autopsies can show what really happened.”