Until June 23, not many could have suspected that all was not well between Emeka Agu, 28, and his pregnant girlfriend, Miss Bidemi Akinsolufe. That night, disaster struck in their home in Ayobo area of Lagos, as Emeka allegedly set his lover ablaze.
The reason? To prevent the lady from charming other men with her beauty. Nearly a month after, Bidemi still writhes in pain at the Gbagada General Hospital, even as Emeka awaits his date with the law. The reporter met the badly burnt lady on her hospital bed and she narrated what led to the sad incident.
“I started dating him last year but my boyfriend is very jealous. Even whenever my sister called me, he would want to call back to be sure it wasn’t a man that called me. “He was working before and had his own place but he later lost his job and had no place to stay. I secured a mini-flat in Ayetoro and asked him to join me there.
We had been living together since then. “Recently, when I took in, he asked me to stop working and I did. But he drinks a lot. He spends his money on alcohol and I always told him that I was worried that his liver might be destroyed. He doesn’t trust me; he thinks I date other men.
“He used to work in the night as a bouncer in a hotel. The day before he set me on fire, his former boss had summoned him and I thought maybe the man wanted to offer him a job. So, on the morning of that day, Sunday, June 23, I called him to know if he had gone to the man’s place.
As we were speaking on the phone, he told me he was already high. And I asked him why he should spend his money on alcohol when I was hungry at home. “I was angry, so I went to report him to his friend. His friend then called him and talked some sense into him. But when he knew that I was with his friend, he became angry and accused his friend of sleeping with me. He said he would suck my blood for sleeping with his friend.
I was even explaining to him that I couldn’t be sleeping around with my pregnancy but he wasn’t convinced. He began to call me names, that I was a useless woman. He later said it was all right, that he wasn’t angry again.
So, I went back home. “When I got back home, one of my friends told me that Emeka had reported me to her, saying I locked him outside in the rain. So, when I got to our apartment, I begged him and my friend also begged him. He said he was no longer angry but I didn’t know he still had plans to deal with me.
“After a while, he pretended as if he wanted to go to the toilet and while walking past me, he suddenly gave me a terrible slap. Then he began to beat me. In fact, I had never been so thoroughly beaten since I was born.
He had only slapped me on two earlier occasions. That night, I was yelling for help but I guessed people weren’t hearing me outside. I was crying and threatening to pack out of the apartment. “Then he said he would destroy my beauty. But I didn’t believe he would do anything so devilish.
Then he went to the kitchen, brought out the stove and poured the kerosene on me. He lit a match and threw it at me and I was burning. I rushed to the kitchen to get water but he was pushing the buckets of water away. I was yelling and crying.
Then after some time, he began to say to me: ‘My babe, your face is burnt, I’m sorry.’ “I didn’t even know that my face was badly burnt. I initially thought my hands were the only parts affected until much later when I saw my face in the mirror.
“When he realised the damage he had done, he began to beg me, saying he would marry me. He said I should stay inside, that he would go and get raw pap to apply on the burnt parts of my body. But as he wanted to go out of the apartment, I followed him. He said he wasn’t running away, that he just wanted to get the pap and get back. And I said okay, but I was following him.
He kept pushing me back but I insisted on following him out. Later, one of our neighbours, a man, knocked on our door and asked what was wrong with me. He replied that there was no problem but I shouted that the man should come in to save my life.
I told the man that the door wasn’t locked, that he should push it. Eventually other neighbours came and pushed the door open and I immediately ran outside so that everyone could see me. I think that was when I passed out.” After she lost consciousness, some of her neighbours quickly rushed her to the nearest hospital from where she was transferred to the Gbagada General Hospital. Meanwhile, the neighbours also alerted the police in Ayobo, who came to arrest Emeka.
Bidemi also told the reporter: “He told me it was the devil’s handiwork but I know God would repay him. I leave everything to God. I have been hospitalised here now since then, and my people have been spending money on me.” “Initially, I thought no man would want me any longer since he had destroyed my face. But my people said no, that they wouldn’t allow me near him again.
They said he should write an undertaking that he wouldn’t come after me but I’ve been told that, even with an undertaking, he might still try to harm me. I will have the baby but he must never ask for my child. I want him to face the music. I want justice to be done.”
Bidemi’s mother, Mrs. Nike Adeyemi, also spoke with the reporter. Said she: “Some good neighbours took my daughter to a nearby hospital and asked her boyfriend to stay with her there. They then secretly invited policemen to arrest him. We are already in court.” “I have spent all I have to treat my daughter.
None of Emeka’s people has paid a dime out of the heavy hospital bills. We have spent over N200, 000 now and we are still spending. The doctor said we would need, at least, N500, 000 for comprehensive treatment for my daughter because her face and hands have been badly burnt.
You can see the wounds are still looking fresh even after over three weeks. I don’t even have any money for her treatment any more.
I’m so fed up. One of Emeka’s sisters came to me with policemen from Ikoyi. She offered to pay me N40, 000 so that the boy would be released. I refused to collect the money because I said it was even an insult for her to offer that little amount when we were being asked to bring N500, 000.
“I don’t even know where to turn to for help. Please, help me beg compassionate Nigerians to come to our aid. I don’t want my daughter to die. I think we will also have to do something about her pregnancy because I don’t ever want her to have anything to do with that boy any longer.”
The reporter spoke with Emeka’s sister, who allegedly offered N40, 000 to Bidemi’s family. Her words: “I don’t know what to do again. I didn’t know when Emeka and Bidemi started their friendship.
I didn’t send him to set the girl ablaze. I’m even tired of everything. I am a widow myself and I don’t have money. I have even used the N40, 000 that I offered her to take care of some other issues. I’m tired of the whole issue and I don’t know what to do.”