… Newly married man, seven-month-pregnant wife die in fire
From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
In the past few days, residents of Kano have been in shock, following the death of a couple in an inferno in the city.
Emeka Sunday Nnatuaneya, 35, and his seven-month pregnant wife, Anulika Eunice Nwogbo, were consumed in an inferno that gutted their home on Middle Road, Kano.
Emeka hailed from Umuike village, Awka, Anambra State, while his wife was from Enugwu-Ukwu, also in Anambra State. They were married on the Saturday after Easter and died in an inferno that razed their home penultimate Sunday.
Emeka was the chairman of Emma Books and Stationery, a business he inherited from his late father. He later moved to a three-storey building, which had several rooms but little plans for emergencies, on plot 54, Middle Road, Sabon-Gari, Kano. His apartment had a sitting room, two bedrooms, one kitchen and a toilet.
Executive Director, Kano State Fire Service, Alhaji Moh’d Liwalnu, said the service received a distress call at 11:25pm about a fire outbreak in the building.
He said his men were able to contain the fire but regretted that two occupants of the building lost their lives, because, generally, night fires were very destructive and more likely to lead to loss of life.
Neighbours who saw the fire rage for hours were scared that the inferno would spread to their own homes. Many residents spent the whole night, throwing out their personal belongings in a bid to minimise losses if the fire spread further.
A lady, who lived nearby said the fire was contained just before 1am, adding that she saw the deceased woman, as she lay in the vehicle of the fire service shortly before they took her away.
“They used a wrapper to cover her body shortly before taking her away. Certainly her hair was not burnt. She looked as if she was just sleeping inside the van,” the woman said.
It was gathered that Emeka was rushed to a medical facility as Sarkin-Yaki within Kano metropolis. He was later moved to an undisclosed location where he eventually passed on.
There were rumours that the pregnant woman set their home ablaze after she accused her husband of infidelity. It was gathered that a strange woman had picked the call when she called her husband’s line.
Already, Emeka’s family has collected his corpse for burial while that of the woman has remained unclaimed in the mortuary.
A co-tenant, who lived in the same building, Mr. Emmanuel Okorie, said the marriage had been crisis-prone from the beginning. He said Emeka had told him in confidence that he almost refused to marry the woman but for pressure from his mother.
A close friend of the late Emeka, who asked not to be named, claimed that the death of the couple was the consequence of a pregnancy-induced marriage, saying that the marriage was imposed on the man by circumstances beyond his control, and the deceased’s mother played an active role in sealing the marriage.
He explained that several years ago in Kano, the lady had dated the late Emeka. They had a thriving romance that, however, collapsed and they went their separate ways, “In between these years, the finances of the young man continued to grow. Then the lady reappeared in his life. By this time, the young man had settled down with another girl, who was not Igbo by tribe. Emeka had, in fact, finished training the girl in a higher institution preparatory to their engagement and wedding.
“Unfortunately for Emeka, when he introduced his proposed wife to his mother, the mother picked faults in his choice and rejected the girl for reasons I may not exactly know.”
It was said that Anulika later came back and soon after, got pregnant for Emeka. The source confirmed that Anulika, who returned to Kano recently after their wedding in Anambra State, was contentious and was always having issues with her husband.
He said the day they died, they had an arguement in the afternoon that forced Emeka to remain at home throughout the day.
“Yes, it is true that his mother played a role in his marriage, but I think that the pregnancy played a greater role and forced everybody, especially the deceased, to agree to a marriage he did not want,” the friend said.
Nevertheless, the Police Public Relations Officer, Kano State Command, Magaji Musa Majia, told Daily Sun, “Our preliminary investigation indicates that the woman tried to escape with the husband through the window of the building. In fact, the husband tried to get her out through the window, but because she was seven months pregnant she could not pass through the window.
“It was afterwards that the lady went back to hide inside the kitchen, where she eventually died from suffocation.
“But because of this rumour, we have since decided to send the case to the Criminal Investigation Department for discreet investigation. That would certainly provide a clearer picture of what happened that night.”