It was a horrible scene yesterday (Tuesday) at Alesa, near Port Harcourt, in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State. When a 35-year-old man, known as Achibong Patrick, killed his four sleeping children after chasing his wife away with a cutlass, set his house ablaze and hanged himself.

The four children were three girls and a boy, aged eight, five and three. The intervention of neighbours saved the building from being razed down by the fire. The incident happened at about 1:00 a.m. when the escaping wife raised the alarm that her husband, who hailed from Ogoja in Cross River State, wanted to kill her and their children, but before neighbours could move to the two-room apartment, it was too late for the four children as the deed had been done. The children, who were asleep, were strangled to death, giving them no chance of fleeing to safety.

A neighbour, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the man was notorious for always beating his wife of many years, adding that yesterday’s tragic incident may have been caused by the husband getting wind of moves by his frustrated wife to seek a divorce.

The source disclosed that when the wife returned home, she saw the dead bodies of all the members of her family, with the burnt house, and almost ran mad, but for sympathisers who came to her rescue, held her down before whisking her away to an unknown destination. The bodies were later evacuated by policemen and deposited in the morgue of an undisclosed hospital.

The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), confirmed the incident. When asked if any arrest had been made, he said: “Who are you going to arrest, when the man chased away his wife, before killing their four children? He did not stop at killing the children, but he decided to set his house ablaze, before hanging himself.”

Omoni added that the landlord of the house where Patrick and his family lived, whom he simply identified as Gomba, reported the incident to a police station in the area. “The bodies of the five persons have been sent to the mortuary for autopsy. The reason for the action has not been ascertained but the police are still investigating the matter.”

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