By Gabriel Alonta & Okechukwu Onuegbu
The Okoye family in Umuchibu village in Awba-Ofemili, Awka North local government area of Anambra state, has been thrown into grief following a domestic squabble that resulted in the death of their son, Osita Okoye in controversial circumstances.
Orient Weekend gathered that Osita, a farmer and first son of the family was allegedly murdered by his younger brother, John, during a bloody brawl in their family compound. The deceased, 34, it was learnt, was confronted by his 28 year old brother for allegedly beating and stripping their mother Unclad over minor domestic issues.
The embattled mother told our reporters that trouble ensued for the Okoye family after the deceased had a disagreement with an undisclosed cousin over farmland boundary.
Mrs. Joy Okoye, 58, recalled the dramatic events that ended in the tragic loss of her son: “After cooking on that fateful night, I was inside the house resting when Osita returned home. After his bath, I offered him food but he asked me to forget about the food because he had a more pressing issue to discuss with me. He said he had a misunderstanding with one of his cousins from my family over a land mark and that he reported the case to security agents.
“I tried to let him see reasons why the issue would have been resolved within the larger family, instead involving security men for his cousin brother. That was how he erupted and branded me unprintable names. He even asked me to leave his presence.
“He raised his voice but I tried to calm him down because it was late already, around 10 pm. I went to lock the door just not to let out our discussion to neighbours but he went after me and flung the door wide open. I also explained why he should not fight with his cousin over the land. The explanation did not go down well with him.
“Before I could sit down, he slapped me and tore my dress. I ran to the back yard to get a cover for myself. It was in the process that my second child (John) came to my rescue. John tried to pacify him to no avail and questioned the rationale behind beating me. He (John) told him it was late already and that he should stop disturbing other neighbours. But instead of listening to him, he (the deceased) ran into the house and collected knife to fight his brother.
“I tried to hold him back not to fight his brother with the knife, he collected the torch which I was holding and struck it against the wall and pounced on his brother, hitting him with the object twice in quick succession. John defended himself by forcefully snatching the knife from him, which led to a fatal injury that eventually claimed his life after he had bled profusely with no vehicle available to rush him to hospital.”
The distressed mother, who condemned the deceased’s hot temper and stubbornness, said that if he had not resorted to retaliatory actions the unfortunate incident would not have happened, noting that it was difficult to separate him whenever he fought.
However, the widow appealed to the Anambra state government to intervene in the matter by asking the police to release his son, John, and allow them to settle the case amicably within the family.
“I plead with the police to release John and allow us to settle it amicably because I cannot stand losing my two sons. John and Osita are my only children. So, John is now my only possession. Now that he is in police custody, no one is giving him food and there is no transport fare to go see him. What will I be living for again and none of them is married; their father died some years back”, she bewailed.
A villager, who pleaded anonymity, said that the circumstances of Osita’s death called for interrogation, pleading that proper investigation be done to forestall occurrence.
Contacted, the police public relations officer, Anambra state, SP Haruna Muhammed, said that the police could not compound the case of murder, pointing out that the suspect would be arraigned before the court after investigation is concluded.
Several attempts to reach the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Ernest Ezekwesili Maduagwuna, to determine what the custom of the land says about murder proved abortive. Even when he picked his call, he promised to call but never got to do so. Our reporters even visited the monarch’s home in Awka, the state capital, but were unable to see him.
Meanwhile, Orient Weekend further gathered that, as at the time of going to press, the deceased’s brother, John was still in police custody in its Achalla division, awaiting investigation while the deceased had been buried pending other burial rites.