Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The incident occurred at Rich Man Garden Estate, behind Anglican Girls Grammar School, Asaba. A fifth victim simply identified as Maxwell was unconscious as at the time the door of the room was opened by the police.
As at the time of filing this report, Maxwell was yet to be revived at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba but was placed on oxygen. The identities of the deceased victims were still unknown, as they were said to have packed into the apartment on Tuesday.
Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa confirmed the incident, saying that investigation was in progress. Inuwa told Saturday Sun that if the unconscious victim survives, he will assist operatives to unravel the cause of the deaths, adding that autopsy will be conducted on the evacuated corpses.
When our correspondent visited the estate, residents expressed shock over the incident, saying that a power generating set worked from Tuesday night to about noon on Wednesday when it went off on its own at the apartment.
The generator was however placed at the balcony of the apartment, according to one of the neighbours who claimed to have assisted in evacuating the corpses.
“I went in there to assist in the evacuation and I counted five persons, four boys and one girl. One of the boys was still alive but in critical condition. I did not find drugs or related substances. All of them were sitting in the parlour at the time we entered,” the source said.
“This created suspicion. So at dawn, we invited the police to come and check what was amiss. It was when the police opened the door that we found the lifeless bodies of four persons,” he said.
Another neighbour who identified himself as Odogwu, said other occupants of the building raised concerns over the well being of the new tenants who had not come out of their flat even when rains had soaked their belongings.
“At night, we discovered that even when it rained on their properties, they did not come out and then we knew all was not well because no sane person will leave his properties under the rain when he can take them inside.
“This morning we became worried that they did not care for their properties and that was why we invited the police so that we can ascertain if all was well behind closed door,” Odogwu said.
Reacting to the incident, landlord of the building, Onuoha Okonji said he was surprised to discover that four more persons had joined the original tenant who he identified as Maxwell from Ozoro, adding that he was baffled when he got a distress call about the tragedy.
Okonji said Maxwell was introduced to him by an agent, adding that they concluded transactions before he moved in. Chairman of the estate, Clement Okafor suspected that the victims may have died due to prolonged inhaling of carbon monoxide from the generator.
Okafor called on the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to activate the electricity transformer in the estate which has been without public power supply for over two years.