There was palpable confusion Sunday morning in Umuakuru, Emekuku, Owerri North local council area of Imo State, following the unexplained death of nine persons in their sleep.
When Vanguard visited the scene at about 8.30am on Sunday, seven of the dead were clustered in one room while the lifeless bodies of an unidentified woman and her friend were found in the second room.
Vanguard investigations equally revealed that the nine dead persons, including the only son of the family, Paschal Njoku, his wife, Juliana and their five children, were home to bury their mother, Felicia Njoku last Saturday, but none survived to tell the story.
Narrating what she could remember to Vanguard at the scene of the ugly incident, the second daughter of the family, Kate, gave the names of the deceased citizens as Paschal Njoku, Mrs. Juliana Njoku, Ebere Njoku, Jackline Njoku, Ifunanya Njoku, Uchechi Njoku and Chy-boy Njoku.
While saying that Mrs. Christiana Uba and one of her unidentified friends that accompanied her to the funeral, died in the incident, Kate also lamented that villagers only woke up Sunday to behold a morbid spectacle.
Speaking also, an inlaw to the Njokus, Mr. Ogbonna Awuzie, recalled with grief that Paschal and members of his family went on self exile to Owerri because of what he termed “the persistent threat to their lives by one of their relations” (names withheld).
“Paschal and members of his family were given sanctuary in Umuodu, Owerri, in the past one year due to serious threat to his life and property. He only went home to bury his mother last Saturday and by Sunday morning we were told that they all died in very mysterious circumstances”, Awuzie recounted with grief.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Obi-Njoku, who spoke to Vanguard at the scene, described the incident as “a huge loss and indeed a calamity but I have advised that a post mortem examination be carried out to ascertain the cause of death”.
The situation however became fully charged when a truck load of youths from a yet to be identified town stormed the rural village, started shooting into the air and smashed the windscreens of cars parked at the scene. Some of the sympathizers lost valuable personal effects in their bid to scamper into safety, while the policemen and Emekuku youths regrouped to match force with force.
As at the time of going to press, one boy from the camp of the invading youths has been captured, beaten mercilessly and was being interrogated with a view to ascertain who their sponsor was.
Meanwhile, the remains of the dead were still lying in the rooms at about 11.30am when Vanguard left Umuakuru, Emekuku.