Metro & Crime

Domestic violence: Relatives seek probe into housewife’s suspicious death

Homicide detectives attached to the Lagos State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, have been advised to do everything within the ambit of the law to uncover how Eucharia, 55, died in her husband’s apartment and her corpse found on a mattress soaked with blood.

The deceased family members are, however, blaming Eucharia’s death on her husband, Ignatius, who they said was fond of using her as his punching bag. The family members came to the conclusion after allegedly discovering there were signs that someone had hastily tried to clean the blood where Eucharia’s body was found and noticed signs of violence on her remains. As if to confirm their suspicion, Ignatius was said to have fled, before his eventual arrest by policemen.

The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma, has joined Mr. Ohams Chinedu, a human rights investigation officer, working with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to demand an investigation into the woman’ suspicious death. Nwanguma said the case was “shocking and disturbing”. He added that it was a case of how the deceased, a female victim of perennial domestic violence, died in suspicious circumstances in Lagos State. Nwanguma disclosed that the deceased had been married for over 21 years to her husband and had two children for him. He said: “Eucharia had until she died on April 28, 2021, in the same house where she lived with her husband, suffered persistent verbal abuses and physical violence in the hands of her abusive and physically violent husband.

“She was a petty trader, who hustled and toiled daily for her own survival, having been neglected and abandoned by her husband. She was well known by fellow women in her neighbourhood as a victim of perennial domestic violence. On many occasions, she had to run to the homes of some of her neighbours to take refuge for days when she came under one of several deadly assaults by her husband.” It was further said that Eucharia had on several occasions, reported violent assault by her husband to the police and had been hospitalised several times after being pummeled and severely injured to a near point of death.

In a petition dated May 28, 2021, Mr. Romeo Ozoagu and Chief Hillary Ozoagu, brothers to Eucharia and addressed to the NHRC, narrated how their in-law woke Romeo up with a phone call about 7.30am on April 28, telling him that their sister, his wife, was dead. The in-law further explained that he didn’t know anything about her death. Explaining to Romeo the circumstances of Eucharia’s death, Ignatius said it was raining heavily at night, and he had gone to Eucharia’s room to check if the windows were closed. He called out to her repeatedly, but she didn’t respond. It was dark so he went and fetched a lamp, and then pushed her body and found that she was motionless.

Ignatius said he cried out and then called three other friends and kinsmen, including Mr. Kingsley Akpata, Eucharia’s kinsmen in Lagos. The men arrived at his residence a few minutes before 5am and Ignatius again, narrated the same story. Nwanguma said: “Akpata, on examining the body of Eucharia, found that she had bruises and swelling on her face, neck and other parts of her body. The mattress was also soaked with blood.

He quickly took Ignatius to City of David Hospital in Festac Town where they met a doctor who accompanied them to the residence to examine the body. On examination, the doctor confirmed that Eucharia had died about 48 hours earlier. “She was lying in a pool of her own blood and the mattress was soaked with blood. There were also signs of physical assault and an attempt was made previously to clean up the blood.” Ignatius would later deposit Eucharia’s remains at the mortuary, and when two of his in-laws showed up and asked to be taken to the mortuary to see their sister’s corpse, Ignatius allegedly refused.

He told them that they couldn’t see the dead until after two weeks. Hillary, one of Eucharia’s brothers, reported the suspicious death of their sister and the equally suspicious behaviour of their in-law at the Festac Police Station, and then later at the Festac Area Command. The Area Commander ordered for the arrest of Ignatius, but when police got to the residence, he allegedly refused to open the door.

The Area Commander then ordered the police officers to break in and arrest him. Ignatius, however, was said to have scaled the fence from the back of his house and escaped. Hillary then went to the SCIID, Panti, Yaba, requesting that his fugitive in-law should be tracked. Police tracked Ignatius to Ogun State, from there to Enugu State. “When Ignatius got wind that he was being trailed, he called Hillary and told him he had been advised by his friends to meet with his in-laws and negotiate a settlement.

They agreed to meet at Hillary’s residence in Lagos. Hillary, however, alerted the police investigators at Panti who laid siege and arrested Ignatius just as he was making his way to Hillary’s house.” When Hillary questioned Ignatius in the presence of the investigating police officers why he was cleaning up the blood on the mattress, he asked him in turn, “why are you digging into this?” Nwanguma noted: “Why has Ignatius refused to allow his in-laws to see their deceased sister’s body? Why has he also ordered his children not to go to see their mother’s body in the morgue? Why is he also refusing to allow an autopsy to be conducted on the body of his deceased’s wife to ascertain the actual circumstances and cause of death? “The actions of Ignatius are suspicious and clearly point to one direction; there’s something he’s hiding.

He knows more than he has revealed about the cause of his wife’s death and he has more explanations to make to the police, his in-laws and to the public. “We call on all women rights groups and indeed all promoters and defenders of human rights to join the fight for justice for Eucharia.”


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