By Emma Una
Did the death of a couple, Francis and Ann Edeh, along with two others, in an auto crash have some unseen hands behind it or was it just destiny at work. That is the question begging for answer several days after the accident.
The crash happened along the busy Abakaliki –Uge while the couple were on their way to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, to express their gratitude to friends and family members who graced their wedding in Calabar, Cross River State capital, the previous week.
What is raising the poser is the drama that involved the couple shortly before the accident that claimed their lives.
Frank and Ann, as they were fondly called, were said to be from Ebonyi State but resident in Calabar, where Frank had chosen to stay to carry out his electronics business.
According to sources, the duo left Calabar on the afternoon of Saturday, 7 September, heading to Abakaliki but, on getting to Amudo, some thirty kilometres to Abakaliki, their vehicle, a Toyota Camry, developed an electrical fault which prompted Frank to go in search of an auto electrician. He took Okada to the electrician shop, about half a kilometre from the spot where the car had the fault. “The man came to my shop at about 4 pm and said his car had stopped and that he had tried to start it without success. He suspected an electrical fault. So, I went with him on the Okada”, Omaka, the electrician told Sunday Vanguard.
After spirited effort by Omaka to get the car to start failed, he informed Frank that his former boss, Luke, might help but that he was operating at Onueke, some three kilometres away from Amudo. Frank asked the electrician to get Luke on phone which he did, asking Luke to come on Okada so that he would get to the place fast.
When Luke came, he asked Frank to pay the Okada man the fare, N200, but Ann objected, arguing that the man ought to repair the car before her husband would pay and this led to an argument.
“Luke took a motorcycle from Onueke to Amudo. When he got there, he told the man to pay the Okada man but his wife started shouting that why should her husband pay the transport fare when he had not even touched the car”, Omaka narrated.
“Luke still wanted to repair the car but when he opened the bonnet, I think he saw something which made him to change his mind and he told the man that he should allow the repair to wait until Monday and that even if he went on to repair the car, it still would not start”.
This statement by Luke got Ann more angry, causing Luke to leave the place and since there was nothing else the couple could do as nightfall was rapidly approaching, they had to leave for Abakaliki in a commercial vehicle.
The next day, Frank and Ann sought the service of another electrician at Abakaliki whose name was given as Ortuh. They asked the electrician to go with them to Amudo to fix the car. “They refused to heed the advice of Luke that they should allow the repair of the car to wait till Monday. So, the next day, which was Sunday, they did not go to church but rather decided to come back with Ortuh from Abakalilki to Amudo in a chartered vehicle. On their way, the car suffered burst tyre and collided with a tanker. All the four people in the car, including the couple, were killed in the accident”. Omaka said
When Sunday Vanguard visited Luke at Onueke Motor Park where his auto electrical shop is located, he said Ann was unnecessarily quarrelsome. “I told them that if not for my boy who called me on phone that I should come and help a man and his wife who just got married because their car had refused to start, I do not usually go on outside work, but when I got there, I saw something and told them not to repair that car till Monday because my spirit told me that something was wrong. The woman was angry and thought I wanted to punish them”.
Though, the electrician would not disclose what he .saw, he queried why Frank should take his wife the next day to where their faulty car was. “Why did the man take his wife the next day to Amudo to repair the car? Couldn’t she have stayed in Abakaliki while he alone with Ortuh go to repair the car?”
He said the fate of the two had been bound together by unseen forces, otherwise they would have attended service that Sunday and prayed to God and then, on Monday, Frank would have gone to Amudo to fix the car, and tragedy would have been averted.
A taxi driver at Abomege Motor Park in Abakaliki, Ogbada told Sunday Vanguard that the driver whose car the couple chartered that Sunday morning used to be a tipper driver but recently bought the ill-fated Audi car, with which he plied the Abakaliki – Amudo- Abomege road, from the money he got from driving the tipper.
“I was the one the man (Frank) contacted first but I did not want to go; so I gave it to the former tipper driver. The man (driver) appeared drunk that morning and so he collected N1,500 from the man even when we asked him to collect the complete sum for five passengers which is N1,800 since the transport fare from Abakaliki to Amudo is 300 Naira and his car carried five persons”.
He said nemesis may have caught up with the former tipper driver because he was not remitting the money he was scheduled to pay the owner of the tipper and was accumulating money to buy his own vehicle, “We were not happy with him because he collected N1,500 from the people (couple) and did not pay us commission (chop money) as the money was not enough for him to give to us and also buy fuel and now see where he ended”.
At press time, the tanker was still parked at the Onueke Police Station while the bodies of Ortuh, the electrician, and the driver had been taken to their villages for burial while those of the couple were in the mortuary of the Onueke General Hospital.