ANGELA NKWO-AKPOLU, in Owerri, tells a ghastly story of how three children were mysteriously found dead inside a stationary car, even as the bereaved parents recount their pains and sorrow.
Ojiama village in Okwelle, Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo state, is a quiet and peaceful community, inhabited by mainly farmers and traders. It had no history of violence, but the recent discovery of the mysterious death of three children inside a stationary car in the community, has changed this narrative of a non-violent town.
Mr. Chidiebere Nweke, until that incident was the father of two handsome sons, Salvation, aged three years; and his brother, Saviour, aged five years. The third victim, little two-year- old Precious, was sired by another kinsman, Anayo Nwode.
Both Nweke and Nwode hail from Orizo in Izza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. They both live in the same house, though in different flats. Both men are dealers in vehicle scraps, which are usually refurbished and made to become new vehicle parts.
Mr. Nweke said that on that fateful day, both families converged for morning devotion (which was alternated everyday between the two flats). After prayers, everyone went about their chores and then later on, both men left to take their landlord’s brother to hospital for a scheduled treatment.
He continued: “I later went to First Bank Osina branch to get money. While there, I was called on telephone to come home immediately. When I got home, I saw an unprecedented crowd in the compound and the dead bodies of my two sons, alongside their sister.a�?
As the tears welled up in his eyes, he looked away to gather his composure and then continued: “Immediately, I got a vehicle and conveyed them to Saint Mary hospital where the doctor confirmed them dead.
a�?But one pastor requested that I bring them to his Church for prayers. But after everything, they did not wake up. That same night, we went to the Police, and they accompanied us to the morgue. I still don’t know how I have survived up till now,a�? he explained.
According to him, his sons were a source of joy, playful as children but very intuitive, adding that a�?a night before, it was impossible for me to watch television. The more I tried, the more my eyes twitched, I had to wash my eyes severally but it persisted.
a�?I called my family and then we prayed, and thereafter we went to bed. It was obvious that something was amiss. I simply resolved to be more careful in my business dealings. I never knew the trouble was lurking around my family and home”.
When The AUTHORITY asked him to paint a picture of the behavioral pattern of his children, he said: “Saviour was very reserved though friendly. He could observe you for two days before warming up to you, and when he did, he was very receptive. See, you can’t touch him without permission; he was a much defined person.
a�?Salvation, my second son was playful. He always addressed himself as a pastor and I enjoyed watching him try to preach. Both were lovely children to behold.a�?
According to him, their landlord brought home his Honda Space Wagon car last Christmas from Lagos where he is based, but decided to leave the car in the village so as to aid his movement anytime he is home. But the children converted the car to a playing ground.
He said: “They enter the car and come out almost every day. The car is not tinted, so we see them play inside the car, and also come out. But my headache is: Why did things change on that fateful day day?
a�?How come they had deep lacerations on their bodies? Does suffocation cause wounds?
a�?I don’t keep malice, nor quarrel with people. I just moved in here last December, and so ita��s not yet enough time to make enemies. I deal in scraps; I don’t go to pubs or drinking joints. Once I close from my shop, I go home straight, explained the bereaved father.
According to him, the car was securely locked and rescuers had to break in through the boot of the vehicle.
The 36-year-old bereaved father said he was still in a state of bewilderment over the death of the children. He shakes his head intermittently, while sighing deeply.
On his part, Anayo Nwode, father of the two-year-old Precious, said of his deceased daughter: “That day, just as I was about leaving for my business, Precious kept crying, so I had to step back. I came back and accosted her and she said: ‘Daddy, buy me eggs and bobo drink’, and I assured her that I will.a�?
His wife, Onyinyechi, was in a state of stupor when The AUTHORITY accosted her for comments. She said: “Precious was very jovial; she would always ask for permission before she took anything. Every day, she will tell me to buy her medicated glasses so that she will be very brilliant and powerful.
a�?She will then carry one empty small water gallon as though it was her briefcase, and tell me that she is off to school. It was a very beautiful sight to see her in her element, acting as though she was already an adult. We all enjoyed watching her,a�? she lamented.
Speaking further, she said: “A night before, I dreamt and saw three snakes curled up together, lying lifeless. I prayed and nullified it. I never knew it was a warning about our children, the beautiful children that brought so much joy to the family,a�? Mrs. Nwode said in between sobs.
According to her, because they were all inseparable, the children tend to do things together, saying, she personally bathed them that fateful day and also fed them all.
Presently, the police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of the children even as many wonder if suffocation can leave deep lacerations on people.
The parents of the deceased are demanding explanation as to the real cause of their death.
“The children could not have been missing for more than 20 minutes. So how come it that all of them looked like children who lacked bones in their bodies.
a�?I mean, when we tried to lift them up, the children appeared boneless, as though their skeletons were removed.
a�?There is an air of mystery around the death of the children, and I call on the authorities to help us find out the circumstances surrounding their death.
a�?We have lost three children; that is bad enough. We only request that we have the courtesy to know what exactly happened to them,a�? demanded one of the bereaved parents.
Meanwhile, one person has been arrested in connection with the death of the children. Nweke explained that the young man was found in possession of an earpiece the children were playing with before their corpses were discovered.
A date is yet to be fixed for their burial, but the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, has assured that no stone will be left unturned in a bid to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of the children.
In the meantime, the community has been thrown into a mourning mood, with residents coming in their hundreds to commiserate with the bereaved families.
The question remains: What led to the death of the three children? Only time will tell.