•‘I lost my wife in auto crash, now my in-laws are after my life’
•You must explain how our sister died – Deceased’s family
Six months after his wife’s death, Mr. Obinwanne Emelobe is yet to overcome the trauma.
The death not only devastated him but brought misunderstanding between him and his in-laws. And since then, the bond that existed between the Emelobe and the Agina families has been badly threatened, leaving them at daggers drawn.
Obiwanne and his brothers-in-law had a beautiful relationship before his wife, Chidimma Nonye Emelobe, died on November 9, 2017. She was crushed by a truck after falling from a motorbike on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway. She died on the spot. The deceased had gone to fetch their goods, which arrived at Tin Can Island Port when she met her death.
Her husband Mr. Obiwanne Emelobe, a businessman based in Lagos, had travelled to his village, Umuogali in Anambra State, to carry out some renovation work on their family house.
He said while he was away, he always called his wife to know how his family was faring. Then one day, his wife informed him that their goods had arrived from the United States, and that she was on her way to collect them.
Hear him: “But after a while, I called to find out her progress, but she wasn’t picking her calls. I kept calling her, but there was no response. So I became worried because she always returned her calls.
“I was troubled when I didn’t hear from her all day. I was unable to sleep that night. It was strange.
“Next day, someone used her line to call me. I heard a male voice, so I became apprehensive. He said that he was from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and wanted to know my relationship with the owner of the line.
“I said she was my wife. Then he said she was dead. Hearing that, I was devastated; my feet could not take my weight anymore.
“But I summoned courage and called Uchenna Agina, my wife’s elder brother and informed him of the development. But he said he was in their village. I had thought that he was in Lagos because two days before, (November 7, 2017) he was with my wife in our shop. Then, he didn’t indicate that he would be travelling to the village. When I broke the news to him, he was quiet. I took it that he was responding to the shock.
“Uchenna later called me, reiterating that he was in the village. The next day I hit the road to Lagos. While on the way, I called my elder brother, Rev. Sam Emelobe, to proceed to LASEMA ahead of me to find out what happened.
“I was broken throughout the journey. On arrival, I rushed to LASEMA office and I was given a detailed account of what transpired. We then went to identify my wife’s body at Mainland Hospital mortuary. It was unattended to; her body was abandoned. After more than 24 hours, it had begun to decay.
“After presenting evidence that she was my wife, I was taken to where her body was. While there, I called my in-law, Uchenna Agina, explaining the situation, and we agreed to take her body to a mortuary closer home.
“I could not travel with the body because I was devastated. My elder brother suggested that a young man, Emeka, should accompany the body to the village. After making the necessary arrangement, they departed. When they arrived in Anambra State, I called Uchenna to meet them at the mortuary and receive the body with his in-law, Mr. Anthony Ibe-Egbunam. The body was rejected at the first morgue because it was decaying. But they got another morgue, though at a very exorbitant cost.
“At that point, my brother-in-law suggested that we bury her immediately because of its condition, but I refused. I told him I would bury my wife well. I had to accept the mortuary bill no matter the cost.
“I called my family members in the village to join them at the morgue but before their arrival, Uchenna had deposited the body in the morgue. But I became alarmed upon learning that my wife that was identified by Uchenna as Mrs. Chidimma Nonye Emelobe had her name changed to Chidimma Agina. I was surprised that he did that because I married my wife properly. I fulfilled all the traditional rites. The development dazed me, but I ignored them.
“Afterwards, Uchenna and Ekene, my wife’s brothers, started demanding a compensation of N50 million for her death. I was shocked at the demand. From then, they started threatening to kill me.
“Then, my brother, Rev. Sam, sued for peace. He went to meet elders from my wife’s family to resolve the issue and agree on a date for the burial. But sadly, few days after, my elder brother died. I was doubly devastated, but continued with the peace meeting with my wife’s family. Finally, we agreed for January 29, 2018 as the burial date and preparations started. Yet, Ekene kept threatening me, insisting that without the compensation, there would be no peace.
“On January 20, 2018, Ekene broke into my house to kill me. I was taken unawares. He came with the Federal Special Anti-robbery Squad (FSARS). They took me to the Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja.
“In Ikeja, Ekene narrated a fabricated version of what happened. I was detained because he accused me of removing some vital organs from my wife’s body for rituals. He equally gave them false information about her death.
“When I presented my own side of the story, they commenced their investigation. An autopsy was carried out and they discovered that she actually died during a ghastly motor accident. I was given a warrant to bury her after the cause of her death was ascertained. She was buried on January 29 as scheduled.
“My wife’s family did not attend her funeral because of the turbulence. After the burial, the family continued threatening me and the children, saying that they were going to eliminate us.
“Uchenna and Ekene wrote a petition to the commissioner of police, dated February 9, 2018, on behalf of their family, accusing me of withholding the truth and circumstances surrounding their sister’s death. Ekene alleged that I didn’t relay the news of his sister’s death to him but to Uchenna who was in Oba, Anambra State. He questioned why his sister’s body was sent to a private mortuary in Oba. He alleged that I was planning to bury my wife without her family’s consent.
Ekene’s petition read in part: “I asked him (Obinwanne) why he did not call me before sending the corpse home. I asked him if the okada man and the trailer driver were dead or alive, but he did not answer me.”
Ekene said that he was told that the body had been sent to his brother in the village. He said he was unhappy that his sister’s body was rejected, nd that he suspected that some of her body parts were removed for unknown reasons.
He alleged that Obinwanne did not report the incident to the police until their family raised issues over the death, three weeks after it happened.
Obinwanne has expressed shock over the ill treatment meted to him by his in-laws. He said: “I was arrested. My statement was recorded. In the course of investigations, I submitted proofs that my late wife died of crash injuries. There was nothing suggesting that her private parts were removed and no material evidence to back up their claim. So I was given the warrant to bury her.”
When the correspondent contacted Ekene Agina, he noted that he was vexed that Obinwanne did not inform him of his sister’s death.
“Rather, he resorted to calling Uchenna, my brother who was in the village at that time. The latter was the one who called to inform me of our sister’s involvement in a crash that claimed her life. It was my brother who sent me some pictures of my sister’s body when it was about to be deposited in a private morgue in Anambra State. It showed that some parts of my sister’s body might have been removed. That aroused my curiosity. So, I started making inquiries from her husband to know exactly what happened,” he said.
Ekene stated that he was equally unhappy that Obinwanne sent his sister to the wharf to get their goods on a commercial motorbike. Why did she not use a car when they had four jeeps parked at home?
He spoke further: “The goods were too heavy, yet she had to use two bikes to convey them and was crushed by the truck.
“I wanted to know why Obinwanne sent my sister on such errand. I asked why he didn’t inform me who lived in Lagos about the accident, rather than calling my brother Uchenna who was in the village. Why did he deposit her body in a private morgue? These are questions he could not answer.
“Everybody knows Apapa road is busy and risky. Why did he send his wife on such an errand that claimed her life?
“The motorcycle operator and the trailer driver bolted from the scene unhurt. Why were they not arrested?”
He said that he was equally upset that Obinwanne went ahead to arrange a burial without the family’s consent.
“I wrote a petition against him and sent it to the police because he was trading words with us. He was threatening us with his money. He brought the police to my house and got me arrested. I was charged to court.
“What my family wants is for Obinwanne to explain the exact cause of our sister’s death.”