Blind wife defends husband accused of setting landlord ablaze
Nekpen, the blind wife of Jeff Obasohan, has insisted that the allegation that her husband set their landlord ablaze is false. Obasohan had been accused of setting his landlord, Pa Joseph Iyen, ablaze on Uwa Street, in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State.
The incident reportedly occurred on Wednesday at the residence of the deceased, located between Second East Circular road and Third East Circular roads in Benin, the state capital.
It was gathered that there had been a protracted quarrel between the late landlord and Obasohan over his unpaid rent.
The 83-year-old landlord was said to have died after sustaining severe burns while Obasohan, also known as One Love, was arrested by policemen from the Esigie Police Division.
Sources from the victim’s family had said that the late Pa Iyen had also given the suspect a quit notice on two occasions, because he (Jeff) allegedly refused to pay his rent.
The wife of the deceased, Esther, had alleged that the tenant had threatened her life and that of her late husband.
“He does not pay his house rent; he does not pay the light bill. Since 2014, we said he should leave this house, I don’t want trouble.
“He threatened to kill me or my husband. We took him to court. Then, my husband fell sick. Later, they said that the case had been struck out,” the widow had said.
The daughter of the late man, Faith Eganbor, who also claimed that the tenant was asked to leave the building in 2014 and 2015, called for a thorough investigation into the matter and justice for the aggrieved family members.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Osifo Abiodun, while confirming the incident, told Southern City News that the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department for further investigation.
“That is true. Yes, he (suspect) is in custody. The suspect has made a statement; the case has been transferred to the state CID,” Abiodun said.
But the blind wife of the suspect, Nekpen, said her family, including her husband, was asleep when they were alerted by the screams of some neighbours to a fire outbreak that affected two doors leading to their apartment.
She said, “I am blind. I was sleeping with my children in one room at about 4am. The next thing I heard was people shouting in the backyard, ‘Fire! Fire is burning at One Love’s (Obasohan) side! Open the door!’ So, we, including my husband, woke up.
“We ran to the kitchen, but the heat from the fire was coming into our house. It was after some tenants at the backyard put out the fire at the back door that we were able to come out.”
Nekpen continued, “When we asked our neigbours what happened, they said that they did not know and that they only saw the fire. As we came out, one boy passed us; he said he wanted to ease himself.
“When he got outside, he saw that Edionwan was burning on the ground. People started shouting. So, we locked the gate so that nobody would go out. When the police came, they told us to open the door. They brought us out and took my husband to Esigie Police Station.”
When asked if she knew how the landlord caught fire, the blind woman said, “I was inside the house. How will I know? It was the shouts of the tenants that made us to know that our front and back doors were burning. I beg the government to look into the case.”
The elder brother to the suspect, who identified himself as Tony, said that he alerted the police when he was informed of the fire incident, alleging that the deceased landlord had intended to set Jeff and his family ablaze.
Tony said, “I was the one that called the police. The boy (Obasohan) is my younger brother. I called Esigie (police station). I called the control room. The police went there two times and said that there was nothing like that.
“But I told them that there was a dead man in that house. I told them to go again before they succeeded in bringing my brother out. The man (the deceased) wanted to burn my brother and the family.”
Meanwhile, Obasohan’s 90-year-old mother, Princess Obasuyi, has called on the state government to ensure fairness and justice.
She said, “Last month, the landlord called to tell me that my son should leave his house. I begged for time to enable him to search for a house but he refused.”
But the Edo Police Command spokesman, who said that he was not aware of an earlier complaint by the suspect, maintained that the matter was still under investigation.
“We are not aware of that unless I find out. That matter is under investigation. If they have evidence, they should go to the state CID where the matter is. If there is record to that effect, they should draw the attention of those investigating,” Abiodun said on Sunday.