Trouble started on the morning of that fateful day when her husband, Patrick, began fomenting trouble at home. Being his usual way of behaving, the young lady didn’t take him too seriously. She had thought that in no time, the tension would simmer down and everyone would have their peace. She was wrong! By the time the day ran its full course, chaos had taken over in their home.
While recalling the sad incident of that day with a swollen face during an encounter with Saturday PUNCH, Archibong could barely utter words coherently. The pain she has suffered appears to have drowned her voice. Hope may have left her closet.
“My late husband, Patrick, was a stonemason and carpenter. He was a very hot-tempered person who was always upset.
“Each time I tried to find out if there was anything bothering him and making him to behave angrily, it always ended in trouble.
“He drank alcohol a lot and smoked a lot too.
“I remember on the morning of that fateful day, while I was having my bath, he came into the bathroom and I asked if he wanted to use the toilet.
“Rather than give me a response, he threatened to break my head if I asked him any other question. He said he was going to do something that would teach me a big lesson in life.
“I thought he wasn’t serious until he picked up a bucket and hit my face with it, leaving me bleeding profusely.
“He left the house and returned in the evening with a big loaf of bread. I had just finished bathing the children and thought that his anger must have subsided. But he was still upset, threatening to kill me if I didn’t get out of the house. As he was coming to attack me, I ran out of the house to a neighbour’s place,” she said.
It was while hiding in the neighbour’s house that tragedy struck that night. The enraged Patrick, strangled their four children: Blessing, eight; Delight, five; Cherish, three; and 18-month-old Bright. He did not stop there. He set the entire apartment on fire before taking his own life as well. It was the height of a 10-year abusive marriage that had threatened to consume the young woman herself.
“I was hiding in our neighbour’s house when somebody ran to inform me that our apartment was on fire and that my children were inside.
“A few minutes later, I realised that Patrick had killed my four children before committing suicide. I could not stand the shock, I fainted,” she revealed.
Narrating how the man had made her life a living hell since they started living together 10 years ago, even though he had yet to pay her bride price, Archibong said that on several occasions, she and her children, were driven out of their apartment at night by her late husband, especially when he was drunk and frustrated.
According to her, all the complaints to his family members and all those who mattered most around them did not yield any positive outcome. Everyone she approached about helping to deal with the matter advised her to endure and commit the situation to God’s hands. Even though, the young woman told Saturday PUNCH that she had wanted to quit the union, the thought of how that would affect her children kept her in the abusive marriage.
“I endured and tolerated all the abuses from my late husband for 10 years because of my children,” she said. “Now all my suffering is in vein. I have no single child to call my own.
“Right from the time I met him, my husband has been maltreating me but I continued to endure because I didn’t want my children to have different fathers. I wanted all my children to bear just one surname so that there would not be confusion amongst them tomorrow.
“I kept enduring all the ill treatments, even though he always drove me and the children out of the house at night whenever he was angry with me. I reported him to his people, our landlord and even the area community and security chairman.
“The area security chairman called him and advised him to stop maltreating me but after that, my husband attacked me with a cutlass, cutting my left wrist. I was admitted to hospital for weeks after that incident,” she added.
Speaking further, Archibong said that despite several interventions from her in-laws, her husband wouldn’t change his abusive tendencies. According to her, he was a complete opposite of the others in his family.
“When I reported him to his parents, they called and cautioned him against such a behaviour and he said he regretted his actions, that it was the devil that used to push him to behave that way.
“I lived with my in-laws for three years in their home town in Ogoja, Cross River State. They were so nice to me but I don’t know why Patrick hated me so much.
“I tried my best to make peace reign between us but he never appreciated my efforts. Now he has taken away my joy in life. Death should have taken me instead of my children,” she said, before breaking down in tears.
Reacting to the incident, Public Relations Officer for the Police in Rivers, Mr Nnamdi Omoni, said that the corpses of the deceased had been taken away for post-mortem, adding that they had commenced investigation into the matter.
“The corpses of the five persons have been sent to the mortuary to carry out post-mortems on the bodies. The police had since commenced investigation into the matter. The reason for the action of the man has not been ascertained,” he said.