*This story contains a gory photo some may consider offensive, please be warned.
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South & Akpokona Omafuaire
THIRTY-EIGHT year-old Ms. Paulina Oghenemere, an indigene of Kokori in Ethiope –East Local Government Area of Delta State, fasted and prayed on August 27, 2010, to cast away the demon tormenting her life. Yet, it was the devil in her green-eyed lover, a father of four, simply identified as Mr. Difference, that knocked on her door at 5 a.m. the next day, and since that ill-fated Thursday when he poured a substance, believed to be concentrated hydrochloric acid, on her face, Paulina’s life has never remained the same.
From what Sunday Vanguard saw of Paulina, the beautiful woman who men found irresistible was a shadow of her former self after she was discharged from University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin City, two months ago. She spent a year in the acid victims’ ward. When Sunday Vanguard visited her home, she fumbled about her sitting room, unable to see, but eager to welcome the team. What came to mind was man’s inhumanity to man.
Today, Paulina, a divorcee and mother of two, needs a lifeline of N10 million to restore her dignity.
‘How I met my ex-lover’
Heart-broken Paulina tells her story, “I divorced my husband with whom I had two kids after irreconcilable differences and incompatibility and relocated to Ujevwu in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. There, I began selling meat at the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company, WRPC, area, a business which sustained and provided for my needs as the kids are with their father.
“One day, I was conveyed by a motorcycle rider, who identified himself as Mr. Difference Ogba, and told me he was resident in Egini, a neighbouring community to Ujevwu. He said he was unmarried. He picked interest in me and I told him I was a divorcee. He said he did not mind.
“After about six months, my church members alerted me that Ogba was married with wife and four kids. I trailed him and got the truth and I told him to leave me alone, but he refused. His wife got wind of our relationship and started coming to abuse me at home. I insisted Ogba leave me alone, but he refused. He went to disturb my pastor. The pastor asked him to leave me alone, but he would not listen. They beat me up and took my money (N30,000). I reported to the leadership of Egini community. They reprimanded him but he would not change his mind.”
Escape to Ekrokpe
The victim explained that because of Ogba’s continued threats that if she didn’t marry him, he won’t leave her alone, she packed out to Ekrokpe Community in Ughelli-South Council area.” After about three months, he found out where I moved to and he came again, I chased him away but he continued disturbing me until my landlady got tired and threatened to give me a quit notice,”Paulina said. She continued,” “I continued to chase him away any moment he came around and my landlady later joined me in chasing him away, till he stopped.”
Fainted for 2 days, woke up in the hospital
“On August 27, 2010, I didn’t go to the market. I fasted and went for our Wednesday prayers in my church (Church of God Mission). I prayed to God to chase away Ogba completely from my life.
I went to sleep early that evening as I had my plans for the next day. I wanted to go to the market and sell and, on return, cook and eat my choice soup (banga). But very early in the morning, August 28 , at 5a.m, I heard a sharp knock on my door and the voice of a woman I knew. I was shocked because she resides in Egini. I was wondering how she came to Ekrokpe that early.
Immediately I opened the door, I was poured something (acid) on my head and face I shouted for help and fainted. I woke up two days later at UBTH to discover that Ogba was the one who knocked on the door and poured me acid.” Ogba fled after the incident.
Without stating it, it was obvious that Paulina had gone through agonizing pains. She told Sunday Vanguard, “I have gone through excruciating pains as I had to undergo three different surgeries. Flesh was cut off from my lap to patch my head and lip. My skull was operated because of the level of burnt when the incident occurred. I weaved my head a night before but the acid that soaked on my head burnt it. I saw death, but God did not allow me to die. I cursed the day I met Ogba, I will never forgive him. I regret meeting him and I am still baffled that he did this to me. He neither drinks nor smokes, I am not aware that he had or has mental problem; so, it is like a bad dream. How I wish it is a dream. I can’t see, my eyes are almost blind, I need help, I want to see again, please, I need help.”
Battle to save a sister
Paulina’s elder sister and member of Deeper Life Bible Church, Mrs. Kate Agbavwe, who resides at Okuokoko community, said, “I was at home on August 28 , 2010, when early in the morning, our mother came to tell me that my sister was bathed with acid by her lover and she was brought to Kokori. We rushed back there and took her to hospital in Okpara Inland. The next day, she was referred to UBTH.
“At UBTH, life was terrible for my sister as many never believed she will survive, even some relatives’ advised that she be left to die. But I stood with her. I had to borrow money to save her life; I borrowed about N500,000 to buy drugs and blood. Things got hard and I had to liaise with my family to sell our land at Kokori. We were billed N665,000 for the bed, treatment and feeding for the one year.”
How Ogba was trapped and arrested
According to Mrs. Agbavwe, “When the incident occurred, the landlady promptly reported the incident at the Ekakpamre Police Station and the case was forwarded to the Otu-Jeremi Divisional Headquarters. The police swung into action and arrested two members of Ogba family, who were eventually released on bail with a condition to look for the suspect in two weeks.
‘’After a month, I came back from UBTH and a lady from Ogba family came as a spy to inquire if Paulina was dead or alive. I sensed her mission and I told her that Paulina was alive and had been discharged from hospital. The lady then said she was going to meet their family to see how they could come for settlement.
The following day, the family came to my house and I told them the truth that Paulina was in critical condition at UBTH. On hearing my report, the family said they would come back again, but they never did. Back at Egini, Ogba was planning to sell his house so that he could flee from his hideout. The family told him that he should come so that they would plan on how to settle the matter. Then, they alerted the police who mobilised and laid ambush for him. He was apprehended and taken away. Later, he was transferred to the state Police Command in Asaba, but we heard that he is being remanded at the Okere Minimum Prison in Warri.”
Save Our Soul
“We are pleading with the government, non-government organisations, Niger Delta Development Commission, Delta State Oil-Producing Areas Development Commission and other public-spirit organisations and persons to come to the rescue of our sister. We were told that corrective surgery can help rescue my sister but the cost is too much for us.
We do not have the resources to do it but we call for help. We have been told by the doctor that one of her eyes can be restored through surgery but it will cost so much, we need help so that at least she can see again”.