For Mrs. Virginia Okonkwo, life could not have dealt a bigger blow. She lost her husband, son, daughter and domestic help to the activities of the Boko Haram sect in Bauchi State, where she had been living with her husband for over 45 years.
Virginia Okonkwo's world is about to come to an end. Though she still maintains her bulky frame, evidence of the good life she had lived before, she keeps saying she has nothing more to live for, except her children, whose future looks bleak due to the loss of the head of the house to help train them.
Reading her bible quietly in her husband’s old house, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY met with Mrs Okonkwo and she narrated that in September, she returned to the village after her eldest son was murdered by members of the Boko Haram sect. He left behind a pregnant wife.
She told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that her decision to return home was because they no longer felt there was a future for them in Bauchi. She had to come back and plan on how to make a better life and survive because Bauchi, where they had called home for so many years, was no longer safe, as a result of the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
“My sister who earlier left Bauchi had told me that she was now in Uyo, and that the place is good, so I and my husband planned that I will move to Uyo to continue my business as a restaurant operator. I came to the village with the hope that after resting for two days, I will travel to Uyo to see what the place looked like.
“Before now, my eldest son had been killed in a riot, which he was not participating in. He was killed along with a lot of youth corps members who were serving in the state. And in fact, that was when we wanted to leave the state.
The governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda came to Azare in Kaltungo LGA where we lived to assure us that things would be okay. He encouraged all of us not to leave the state as plans were underway to tackle the insurgency once and for all.
He also promised compensation for families of those whose people were killed, and a lot of government people came and collected pictures of my late son, of when he was alive and dead. Our family was even invited to Bauchi for talks with government, but nothing came out of it.”
Mrs. Okonkwo told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that although they were persuaded to stay, they were no longer comfortable as Azare, where her husband had stayed for over 45 years, has become very hostile, and this led to plans to relocate the family back to Anambra State.
She stated that her husband, Mr. Basil Okonkwo, who is an elder in Bauchi, and who always partook in the settlement of squabbles among indigenes and non-indigenes supported that they leave the state. But being that they had to plan before leaving, her husband first came home and started building a modern house where his family would be housed.
A week after his wife and seven children relocated to the village, Chief Okonkwo came back home to conclude the decking of the buildin, which he intended to be a storey building.
He later returned to Bauchi to help his two children and servant who he left there, with the hope of returning in two weeks time to remove the decking and continue with the building, when he, his daughter and servant were killed in Azare main market on their way back home after the day’s transaction.
One of the senior daughters of the late Chief Okonkwo, Ogo, who spoke with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, said a call came at about 7:30pm, asking her mother of the whereabouts of her husband, to which she (her mother) responded that she was not in the North, but back home in Anambra.
Though her mother was worried, Ogo managed to console her, and assured her that nothing would happen to her father. But in the morning, another call came in, disclosing to them that her father’s corpse had been found in the market place, including that of his daughter and servant.
The corpses of Chief Okonkwo and his daughter have been buried, including that of his servant who was buried at Aguleri in Anambra.