When Mathias Eze of Umu-Aji village in Umuida, and Patricia Ossai of Imufu, both in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State got married, little did Patricia know that her heartthrob would end her sojourn on earth in the most gruesome manner 16 years after their marital union.
But on Saturday, July 21, 2012, Mathias, a former Commissioner in the Enugu State Independent Electoral (ENSIEC), tragically ended the union that had produced six lovely children with an alleged gunshot over his wife’s failure to prepare stewed rice for the day’s supper.
The father of the deceased, Elder Alphonsus Ossai, now a shadow of himself, told Sunday Sun the tale of his daughter’s forced death as was narrated to him by the late Patricia’s 15-year-old daughter, Uju, who witnessed the incident that night.
“On Saturday, July 21, 2012, at about 8pm, according to my grand-daughter and Patricia’s first child, because I was not there, he (Mathias) came back with a grass- cutter and asked his wife to prepare it, and left the house again. My daughter cooked the meat and when he came back again at about 10 pm and demanded for the cooked meat, she gave it to him. He asked her to give him rice and stew but my daughter told him she didn’t cook rice. What she cooked was ‘Otipiri,’ a local delicacy made from maize. “He flared up and questioned why she didn’t prepare rice and stew with the meat; but my daughter pleaded that she had started cooking the maize delicacy when he returned with the meat. He then went to his second wife who hails from Ibagwa in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, and asked her what she cooked for the night and that one told him that she prepared yam porridge.
“At that point, he became livid and threatened that he was going to shoot two of them if they didn’t go back to the kitchen to prepare rice and stew that night. The two women pleaded with him to understand that it was too late in the night and there was no more firewood in the house. Besides, it rained heavily that night. They thought they had placated him and tried to recharge their handsets, but he warned them not to do so since they refused to cook stewed rice for him. They didn’t take his threat seriously.
“It was at that stage that he dashed into his room, came out with a double-barrel gun and pursued them. The second wife was the first to see him with the gun and she alerted my daughter but he had already closed in on them. The other wife ran out of the compound while my daughter hid at a corner of their kitchen because at that time, the generator had been switched off, so the entire compound was enveloped in darkness. But he quickly embarked on a search mission with the first son by his first wife who had died many years ago.
“He had given up the search and was going back when his son, who had finished secondary school, spotted my daughter and alerted him. He called his father to come and see the ‘idiot,’ referring to his father’s wife, my daughter. The man came there and aimed at my daughter who was then pleading profusely with him to spare her life but all her entreaties fell on deaf ears as he fired at her killing her instantly.”
The distraught father, who fought hard to control tears rolling down his cheeks as he spoke, alleged that when Mathias who works with the Enugu Sate Post Primary School Management Board (PPSMB), saw that he had shot his wife dead, he put her inside the boot of his car and drove to a near-by hospital in Ogurute.
According to him, the suspect told the hospital workers, that armed robbers came to his house and while he was exchanging gunfire with them, stray bullet hit his wife down.
Patricia’s younger sister, Edith, and her elder brother, Johnson corroborated their father’s account of the incident and wondered why an infinitesimal issue such as failure to cook a particular meal could lead to such a dastardly act.
Edith said: “I feel terribly sad that a man could be that bestial to his own beloved wife; the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh as the Bible tells us. It beat my imagination. It was a rude shock when I heard the news.”
Also in a fury-filled tone, Johnson said: “I feel very sad that my sister is lying cold in the mortuary. I live in Lokoja in Kogi State, but I am home because my sister’s husband shot and killed her in cold blood. My sister begged and begged that her life be spared but he adamantly shot and wasted her life just like that. She had six children for him; four boys and two girls. I am very sad because I can’t see why he should be that bloodthirsty. I feel that government should mete out appropriate punishment to him to serve as a deterrent.”
When Sunday Sun visited the country-home of the suspect at Umu-Aji in Umuida, the house was deserted. Checks revealed that he had been taken to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), at the Police Headquarters in Enugu.
Women who live in the neighbourhood confirmed the incident and described Mathias as a very harsh man who didn’t allow his wives to relate with other people. They said his wives rarely came out adding that he was a male chauvinist who believed that women should only be seen and not be heard.
Another native who preferred anonymity, described him as, “a very wicked man who derives pleasure in inflicting pains on people.” He alleged that the suspect once threatened to drown his late first wife because she denied him sex.
Also, a young lady in the community narrated how a girl he had married, ran away and was later forced to cough out N150,000 that the suspect claimed, as expenses he incurred during the marriage ceremony.
“The girl had to take up a paid employment and started paying back until she paid to the last kobo. It’s just that the girl is now in Lagos; otherwise, I would have asked you to go to her to hear more about the man. He is wicked and people are afraid of him because he has money.”
Efforts by Sunday Sun correspondent to speak with Mr Eze drew blank as the police did not allow him to see the suspect.
But investigation revealed that Eze gave two different accounts on how he allegedly killed his wife. He was said to have told the staffers of the hospital where he took his wife’s corpse to, that he killed her in error during a gun duel with robbers that attacked his house. It was also gathered that the suspect later told the police at Ogrute that he noticed strange movement inside the bush behind his compound and because there was no light, he suspected that it could be an armed robber, and fired his gun only to discover that he had killed his wife.
When the State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, was contacted on phone, he confirmed the incident.
“We are aware of the incident that involved one Mathias Eze who was alleged to have shot and killed his wife. I can assure you that investigations are on-going and we shall get to the bottom of the matter. The police would do everything necessary to ensure that justice was done at the end of the day”, he said.