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How family of six died in their sleep in Enugu, only son in coma

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Amaokpo Nike community in Enugu State


Was it food poisoning or generating set fume that could have snuffed life abruptly from a family of six in Enugu on Monday? This is the question that the police and residents of Amaokpo Nike community in Enugu East local government area of Enugu are eager to find answers to, following the mysterious death of a man, his pregnant wife and three children on Monday night in the area.

The family of Onyekwere Chukwumalu, a building contractor from Eziowelle, Idemili south local government area of Anambra State had after a meal on Monday night, slept, but never woke up again, as their decomposing bodies were discovered inside one of their rooms on Wednesday morning.

In fact, it was a friend said to have been given an appointment that Wednesday morning by Onyekwere that discovered the ugly scene and raised the alarm that attracted neighbours. When the doors were forced open, their bodies were said to be peeling off, indicating that they may have died from inhaling a chemical substance.

The visitor, who raised the alarm was said to have peeped through the door after calling severally without a response, even when Onyekwere’s car was parked in the compound.

When The Guardian visited the area yesterday, scores of residents were seen discussing the incident even as no one was allowed to access the compound. It was gathered that when the door of the room was forced open, the family members were discovered to be lying down in one heap as Onyekwere was said to have held his family together as if they were saying some prayers.

Onyekwere’s 10-year-old boy, Arinze was said to have sneezed and shouted “Jesus”, when officials of the Ministry of health and United Nations, who were on rescue mission were pulling out the dead bodies and was rushed to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla for treatment.

Speaking to newsmen yesterday at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu where the deceased were kept, the South East Zonal Commander of the United Nations Rescue team, Emmanuel Okoye, said that somebody informed them about the incident and they rushed to the scene.

Okoye told newsmen that they helped to take the bodies to the mortuary since the police were nowhere to be found at the time the rescue team arrived at the scene.

Chairman of Enugu East Local Government Area, Mr. Alex Ugwu, who stated that he visited the scene, expressed shock over the incident. He stated that the late Chukwumalu was a good person and wondered how he would die in that manner. He however, attributed his death to a “possible food poisoning” since there was no generator to suggest that it could be as a result of fumes from exhaust.

“When I heard about the incident, I alerted the police and the Ministry of Health to take charge. It was when the officials of the Ministry of Health were trying to evacuate the bodies that one of the man’s children sneezed and was discovered to be alive and was rushed to the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Enugu State police command has commenced investigation into the death of five members of a family in the outskirts of Enugu metropolis. The sixth member of the family, a boy, was however found in coma and had been rushed to a hospital.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, made this known in a statement yesterday. Ndukwe said that the incident took place at City Estate Layout, Amokpo-Nike near Enugu on Wednesday, April 29, in the morning.

“The command’s knowledge of the unfortunate development followed a complaint received on April 29 at about 2:00p.m. at Unity Police Station of a sudden and unnatural death of a family of six at City Estate Layout, Amokpo-Nike, Enugu. The operatives of the station, led by its Divisional Police Officer, SP Siga Malgwi, immediately moved to the location where they saw them lying lifeless in a room.

“The building was cordoned off, while Enugu East Local Government Health Authorities were contacted for examination and evacuation of the bodies. However, in the course of disinfecting the building before the evacuation, the only son of the family, Arinze Onyekwe, was found to be in coma. Arinze was immediately rushed to the hospital where he is said to be recovering,” he said.

According to him, bodies of five members of the family have been evacuated to the hospital for autopsy. “Other members of the family whose bodies have been evacuated to the hospital for medical autopsy included: Dominic Onyekwe, husband; Chinaza Onyekwe, wife, who is suspected to be pregnant; Chioma, Oluebube and Blessing their daughters,” he said. The police spokesman said that the Commissioner of Police had ordered investigation to ascertain the cause of their death.


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