Thursday, January 28, 2021 will remain indelible in the memories of the people of Amanuke community in Awka North Local Government Area, Anambra State. The unforgettable experience, unfortunately, is for the wrong reason.
Residents of the area had woken up on that fateful day without any inkling of the calamity that would befall one of their own later in the night.
Uchechukwu Nweke, an indigene of the community said to have been having a running battle with his wife and children for several years over an undefined matter, had concluded plans to bring the matter to an end on that day by not only taking his own life but those of his 55-year-old wife and 29-year-old son.
The 65-year-old hunter reportedly married to two wives with no fewer than 10 children, according to sources from the community, had allegedly suffered series of maltreatment, including being beaten by one of his wives and some of her children.
A resident of the area, who preferred anonymity, said the leadership of the community had made several attempts to wade into the matter with a view to resolving the lingering crisis. He, however, regretted that none of the efforts yielded results until tragedy struck.
He said: “I have always known the man to be a hardworking man. In fact, he built his first house in his 20s. He had about seven children from the first wife before he married the second one.
“I can’t actually trace what led to the quarrel between him and the first wife and some of her children, which made them to hate him with passion, particularly the one he killed together with his wife.
“The beating was so much that he, at a time, ran away and decided to build a house close to his farm. Before he finally ended his life, he has suffered internal bleeding from the series of beating by his wife and children, which he feared he might not survive.
“That day, he took everyone by surprise. He first set ablaze his house near the farm, before he returned to the other one where his first wife lived. His second wife was asleep with her children when he quietly woke her up and asked her to run with her children.
“She then shot the wife and the son and later set the house on fire before he finally killed himself. All this took place before neighbours could arrive.”
A close neighbour, Sampson Okoye, told The Nation that the deceased had earlier threatened to carry out an act that would be disastrous after complaining several times of maltreatment by his wife and children.
He said he had appealed to him to go back home, with a promise that the matter would be resolved in the morning, not knowing that the gunshots he heard earlier were for his wife and son.
He said: “On the eve of that fateful day, the man came to my house complaining that the wife and children refused to give him money to collect the results of the lab test he did after the last beating he received from them.
“He complained to me that his wife and one of his sons were talking ill of him. I warned him not to do anything that would harm his family, not knowing that he had made up his mind to shoot his wife and son before killing himself.
“I tried to reconcile them, especially through the wife, but they all turned deaf ears to my pleas. You know in family matters, when you advise the man or woman, they won’t listen. It was around 3 am that I heard two gunshots.”
Okoye added that the deceased was undergoing treatment at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku from the injury he sustained before his eventual demise.
Corroborating Okoye, the chairman of the vigilance group in the area, Charles Nnawude, said he had intervened in the family’s matter on several occasions when the deceased brought complaints of inhuman treatment from his wife and children.
“He came to my house sometime ago and complained about the wife and children who were beating him,” he said. He said they did a lot of things to him, including chasing him out of the house.
“I tried to reconcile them, including inviting them to my house, but the man walked away angrily and the next place we saw him was inside the bush.
“They still traced him to the bush and pounced on him. They went to the extent of beating him on the buttocks with knife. If you saw his buttocks, you would weep.
“Up to two days before the incident, the man was still complaining that they were still beating him, especially his son, Obinna.
“Actually, the man was married to two women. When he was about to carry out the act, he told the other woman to go away with her children. So she ran away with them,” he added.
While expressing shock over the unfortunate incident, Nnawude cautioned residents of the area, especially mothers, to desist from instigating their children against other members of their families.
He advised them to rather embrace peaceful resolution of internal issues.
When our correspondent visited the residence, neighbours and sympathisers thronged the house in their numbers, with some expressing shock over the incident while some others took pictures.
The deceased’s building and property were completely razed after they were set ablaze around 3 am while neighbours were fast asleep.
A public affairs analyst, Tony Okafor, described the case as that of psychotic occasioned by provocation.
He said: “It could be a psychotic problem, which can be as a result of provocation. It can’t just happen. If someone has a psychotic problem, little provocation can take him to that level.
“The only problem I have is that one had thought that when he released the first shot, it would have attracted neighbours who could have prevented him from going further.
“But he released the first and second shots, and even burnt the house, yet we didn’t hear that someone came out to intervene. So, to me, it’s purely a psychiatric problem.
“That he was married to two wives is not the issue. Even if he had married 20 wives, it wouldn’t lead to that if the man had sound mind. We’ve seen people that are polygamous and they’re living fine.
“It is likely to be a psychiatric problem provoked by someone, probably one of the persons he killed. If he had asked one of the wives to go with the children and the other to stay, then it was premeditated.
“The lesson to take away from this is that people should not be necessarily provoked. Secondly, people should share their problems with others. If you have such problems, you can share it. A problem shared is somehow a problem solved.
“Government can also create recreational and social centres where people can go and forget their sorrows. If a man carries his burden alone, there are possibilities that he can go to the extreme. People should socialise.
“In the olden days, our grandparents were fighting those things by taking snuff. They say, psychologically, if you take it, your worries will vanish.
“But these days, people don’t take anything. People pile their problems. Besides, we think too much.
“But in all, we should not be provoked because we have little patience now, especially with the high cost of living in the country.”
Confirming the incident, the spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, Haruna Mohammed, said the corpses of the victims were immediately deposited at the hospital’s morgue for autopsy.
He said investigation had commenced to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.
He said: “On 28/1/2021 there was a report from the vigilante chairman Amunike community in Awka North LGA of Anambra State that on the same date at about 3 am, a hunter, one Uchechukwu Nweke ‘m’ aged 65 years, of same address, allegedly shot his wife Patricia Nweke ‘f’ aged 55 years with a single barrel gun.
“He also burnt his house along with his son named Obinna Nweke, aged 29 years, in circumstances yet to be ascertained.
“Suspect equally shot himself using the same gun.
“Meanwhile, Police detectives attached to Achalla Police Station visited the scene and rushed victims to Uche Hospital Isuanocha for medical attention where all the three victims were certified dead by a medical doctor on arrival.”