While Nigerians were celebrating the 51st independence anniversary yesterday, a man was busy attacking his family, Alexander Ndubuisi Egeonu set ablaze members of his family made up of his pregnant wife and two sons aged between two and three years.
The youngest son, who went into coma following the injuries he sustained in the inferno, was later revived at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu two hours after the incident which occurred at about 11a.m while the wife and the first son are now on danger list at the hospital.
The fleeing father of two, who hails from Umunoha in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, according to eyewitnesses, had, on arrival at his container shop at No. 61 Mount Street, Awkunanaw, Enugu where he sells musical records and Compact Discs, asked his wife to escort him to the filling station to buy fuel.
Thinking that the fuel was meant for their generator, the wife consented, but, shortly after returning to the shop, Egeonu went to a neighbour’s shop and began to drag the owner (a woman) to his own shop claiming that she was indebted to him. The woman began to shout and attracted neighbours and passersby who promptly rescued her from the man said to be very troublesome.
“Immediately the man returned to his shop, he tied the hands of his wife and poured the fuel on the floor. He thereafter locked the wife and his two sons inside the container and lit matches through the window to ignite it,” the eyewitness said.
The pregnant woman and her two sons were severely burnt before neighbours forced the container open and brought them out. They were rushed to the Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre. The pregnant woman and her first son said to be in critical condition were later transferred to the National Orthopedic Hospital.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the incident, said the suspect took to his heels after setting his family members ablaze and has not been found. He said that investigations had commenced to ascertain the motive of the arsonist, adding that the police would do everything possible to apprehend the suspect.
The fleeing Egeonu also a barber, was described as “troublesome” by residents of the area and had beaten the wife on several occasions on account of minor disagreements.
A neigbour said the record and CD seller had, in the past, engaged other tenants in the area in a bitter quarrel but it was not known if he had a fresh rift with his wife to warrant yesterday’s incident.
By Tony Edike
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