By Fredrick Okopie
On Tuesday,May 17, 2011, the family of George woke up at their No. 7 Fakande Street residence in Kirikiri Town, Oriade Local Council Development Area, without any premonition of disaster.
Like some of their neighbours, they were full of hope that the day would be a happy one for them. But it later turned out to be a black day as death had visited their eldest daughter, Miss Uche, 21, who decided to take her own life over a missing N1,000 bill.
By the next day, news of the tragedy had spread like a wild fire during the harmattan and soon there were conflicting versions of how it happened in the tiny suburb of Kirikiri. The predominant version was that the lady in question allegedly drank a locally-made insecticide popularly called Otapiapia.
In her own version, a lady in her early 30s, told Vanguard Metro thus: “What I heard was that Uche’s mother accused her of taking N1000, but Uche denied it, saying she knew nothing about how the money got missing.
As tempers rose between mother and daughter, Uche threatened to kill herself if her mother continued to accuse her. But intending to call the girl’s bluff her mother challenged her to drink from a can of Otapiapia if she was serious about killing herself.
Uche immediately drank the insecticide and a few minutes later she fell down unconscious. When their neighbours came to revive her, she was foaming in the mouth and died on her way to the hospital.
“Initially, the mother was not troubled by the unfolding disaster. It was only when it dawned on her that her daughter was dying that she called for help”.
When Vanguard Metro visited the area, three obituary posters of the deceased at the end of the street more or less confirmed the tragic incident. One of them read thus: Mrs. Uche Udubisi is dead; age 21. Saturday May 21, 2011, body leaves Navy Town Mortuary for burial at Badagry Cemetery. She is survived by father, mother, husband, son”.
When VM visited the residence of the bereaved family at breakfast time, the prevalent funeral atmosphere was underlined by a throng sympathisers milling all over the place.
Time was 9:14am and the mother of the late young woman was having her breakfast of rice and stew and so could not speak with VM. But a 19-year- old lady who identified herself as Deborah George, the immediate younger sister of Uche, was willing to speak.
Miss Deborah a secondary school leaver, told VM that the family hails from Ika South Local Government of Delta State. She denied the rumour making the rounds in the area that her mother was responsible for her sister’s death. She said it was wrong to jump to that conclusion since nobody was there when the whole argument started. Deborah was initially reluctant to tell her story, because, according to her, the family didn’t want what happened to go public.
But given her claim that she and her mother were present when her sister committed suicide and are in a better position to tell the true story of what transpired that fateful day, VM had persuaded her to speak.
And this is her story: “My name is Deborah Ebere George, and I’m 19 years-old. We are from Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State. Uche, the lady that died on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, was my immediate elder sister, and has a two-month-old son.
“There is no family that doesn’t have misunderstanding; the death of Uche is both a tragedy and a big embarrassment to our family. When our mother queried Uche over the missing N1000, nobody was with us in the house, only the three of us were there.
The whole trouble started between 7:30 and 8:00pm, when our mother returned home. She asked my sister who took the said amount from her purse. Uche replied in the negative. But soon the argument got out of hand. It was at this moment I left the room to relax outside.
Where I sat, I saw my mum coming out from the room and passed through the front without saying a word.
“Immediately my mum left the room, my sister came out and sat beside me. But I perceived a strange odour on her body. I asked her what she drank. As I was asking her, she fell and screamed for help.
People came running to us and tried to revive her with red oil and milk. It was at this period I ran to the house to discover that she drank Otapiapia. She was confirmed dead at the last hospital we took her to after futile efforts in three other hospitals.
“Our sadness at the death of Uche has been made worse by the fake rumour people are spreading that my mum was the cause of her death? Which mother will encourage her daughter to drink poison? People are just speculating what they don’t have knowledge of. It’s just unfortunate that my elder sister could not stomach the accusation against her.
“I will like to repeat that my mother never asked Uche to drink the insecticide as many people have come to believe”.
She was still speaking when a woman barged in and angrily demanded to know what the interview was about.
It was only after our reporter had identified himself that Deborah told him the woman was her mother. The deceased has since been interred at the Badagry Cemetery as announced in the obituary notice.