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Confusion as strange deaths rattle Enugu community

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
11 April 2023   |   3:55 am
The peace of Amukwu village in Abor, Udi Local Council of Enugu State has been rattled, following recent strange deaths that claimed a family of four in similar circumstances.

The late couples

The peace of Amukwu village in Abor, Udi Local Council of Enugu State has been rattled, following recent strange deaths that claimed a family of four in similar circumstances.
 
The Guardian learnt that Peter Okolongwu, his wife, Petronilla, their nephew and niece, who were living with them, all died days apart in a strange and mysterious way that has thrown the community into confusion, worries and mourning.
   
The situation has forced community members to embark on a search to unravel the mysterious deaths.
   


It was gathered that while Peter died a day after he was hit by a strange illness at the hospital on January 18, 2023, his wife died a day after, from similar circumstances at a different hospital, followed by their niece and nephew.
 
Peter, a technician and coordinator of electricity matters in Abor, was said to have been hit by a strange illness after leaving his farmland and was rushed to the Ark of Life Hospital in Ngwo, where he died the next day.
   
On the day Peter died, the wife, a senior staff of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, developed similar clinical manifestations and died moments after she was rushed to the Niger Foundation Hospital in Enugu on January 19, 2023.
   
Similarly, children of the deceased, Favour Okolongwu, 15, and Boy Okolongwu, 12, were not taken to the hospital and they all died.
   
Jolted by the development, the community had endorsed autopsies for Peter, Petronilla and Favour, while they buried Boy and reported the matter to the police.
 
President General of the community, Ozo Bonaventure, told The Guardian that the matter has also been escalated to the Ministry of Health and the State ‘s Disease Control Agency.
   
He said: “The entire community was devastated by this tragedy. One thing that was clear to all is that the deaths were strange, as they weren’t sick, but died hours apart. To ascertain the root cause of these mysterious deaths and prevent future occurrence, the matter was reported to the police by some family members and a coroner inquest ordered. Some government health authorities were also alerted
   
“Officials at the state’s Disease Control Agency came to the community and asked questions; the police also obtained their information. Later the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials came from Abuja to the community and took samples from everyone that had connection with deceased. They thought it could be an epidemic.
   
“It is more than two months. As I speak to you, none of these efforts have yielded anything. We have not been able to unravel the course of the mysterious deaths. The Disease Control office, Abuja informed us that it was not an epidemic.”

The autopsies, we paid for at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, in the last two months have not produced any results. The hospitals where they died could not give a medical report about the cause of their deaths. We are worried and still seeking answers and solutions.
   


“I am a Christian, but as I speak to you, some traditional members of the community have gone to make inquiries and came back without answers. We are praying to God to help us because we have not seen this kind of a thing before. We are still shocked by the development. When the incident occured in January this year, most members of the community abandoned their homes in fear that it was an epidemic. They returned following assurances from the NCDC officials that it was not an epidemic.”

But, a community source told The Guardian that the hospital, where Peter’s  wife died, specifically reported the primary cause of death in her case, to be “Toxic Syndrome”.
   
The source alluded to the fear in the community, insisting that “ these strange and mysterious deaths happening in one family house within hours and days apart is a matter of serious public concern and interest, and needs to be unraveled.”
   
He lamented the invaluable contributions of Peter to the development of the community, especially with regards to coordination of electricity issues, stressing that his death had created a yawning gap in the area.
 
Meanwhile, the community has fixed April 14, for the burial of the deceased family members.

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