Once they were a happy family. Everybody, co-tenants, neighbours on the street, and even their landlord attested to the fact that they were a good couple.
And indeed after 11 solid years of matrimony, nobody will doubt that. But the bliss enjoyed by this seemingly vintage family was torn to shred in one moment of anger, when the husband was alleged to have thrown his wife from the balcony of the last floor of their two-storey building.
The woman suffered a fractured skull and died one week later in a hospital in Asaba, the Delta State capital. Now the man is being accused of murder and his family is disarray as he has been arrested by the police.
Neighbours of the Okohs are still wondering how a seemingly common argument suddenly turned tragic.
The suspect, Okoh Patrick, 47, who is a school teacher, had an argument with his wife, Maria, over the use of available fuel siphoned from her car to fuel their generator to watch the Nigeria-Burkina Faso final duel during the just concluded Africa Cup of Nation in South Africa.
The argument became hot and heated and tempers flared. In the ensued tantrum, it was alleged that Patrick angrily pushed his wife over the balcony.
The woman, who was on the fat side, fell on the railing and the already rusty rail gave in under her weight and she went crashing from the top floor to the ground.
Consequently, her skull was fractured by the deadly impact of hitting the hard ground.
When Sunday Express visited the compound where the incident happened at 29, DLA Road, Asaba, neighbours expressed shocked at the death of the 42-year-old receptionist. Speaking to SE, the landlord of the compound, Pa Arinze Cosmos, revealed that the couple was the best couple that has lived in his compound since he became a landlord.
“I was shocked when this happened. I was watching the match when I heard noise outside. My son came in and told me that Patrick threw his wife from upstairs. I didn’t agree. I have never seen them quarrel. I have never heard two of them exchanged words. This is purely the work of the devil,” he said.
Despite strong claims by the children of the couple (who were the only witnesses to the incident) that it was not an intentional act, the police still went ahead to charge the accused to court for a possible case of manslaughter.
One of the couple’s three children, Kingsley Okoh, a 14-year-old secondary school leaver, disclosed that the death was not intentional. The teenager who is still reeling from the shock of the sudden loss of his mother reconstructed that tragic moment.
“We were watching the match when PHCN interrupted the power supply. There was no fuel in our generator at home. So instead of going outside to watch the match, my dad sent me to siphon some fuel from my mum’s car to power the generator.
At that time, my mum was not around, but just before half time, she came back and asked how we got the fuel we were using. I told her how we got it and she insisted that I should switch off the generator and siphon the fuel back to her car.
My dad refused. That was when she made an attempt to go and switch off the generator by herself. My father then tried to stop her. In the process, he pushed her and she tripped and fell from the balcony.”
The victim was later rushed to the hospital, but gave up the ghost after one week of receiving treatment for her fractured skull.
Attempts to get a statement from the police regarding the case ended in futile as the officer in charge of the case was not available on the two occasions SE visited the station. However, sources at the station confirmed that the case has been charged to court.