Brother Jacob was a quiet but popular man; he was popular because he sold land.
He was beloved because people who needed to sell their land trusted that he would not cheat them or undervalue their land or run away with their money.
Money on the other hand was a big problem for brother Jacob. He had a lot of brothers and cousins and people to train in schools; he had plenty of fees to pay, bills and yet, he never took the easy way. He believed what is his would be his own.
So why did they pour acid on him? Why did someone sneak up behind him on his way to see one of the surveyors at the ministry and bathed him with acid from face down.
It doesn’t make sense; Bro Jacob had no enemies. From Ibusa here, down to the main road, to Okpanam and Asaba, he was a well known and loved man; ask around.
When this incident happened, we heard him scream and shout and call for help; we didn’t know what had happened, just that a man was on the ground, outside our house which is by a major pathway to the community. He was screaming for water and saying fire, fire was burning him. He said someone came from the bush path and poured something like water in his face.
It was not water; he was bathed in acid. His flesh had become swollen, red and was falling off, peeling like boiled potatoes dropped in cold water. There was blood because he had begun to scratch at his face; his neck and hands. His flesh fell…we got water, we splashed all over to bring him relief. There was none.
Some other passersby searched around to see if they could catch the culprit, the wicked human being who poured the acid on Bro Jacob. They didn’t see anyone. There was no one bearing acid in a white plastic bottle. That was all Bro Jacob saw. He didn’t see the person’s face.
He was admitted at the hospital and so began series of rounds of treatment at the hospital. You should see how people trooped to the hospital for visits but he was in too much pain to notice or see them. His face was swathed in huge gauze. After a few days though, it was removed and some lighter gauze was used, they said they wanted air to touch the skin.
Bro Jacob never recovered. I mean, yes his outward wounds were healing but inwardly, he didn’t heal. As you can imagine, he became dependent on his wife, his children, people around him for the simplest task. He became like a ghost. Until he passed away.
By this time, we had concluded that Bro Jacob was a victim of mistaken identity. He must have looked like someone the perpetrator wanted to hurt. He must have walked along the path the perpetrator was waiting for the real victim. He must have…because, despite all the findings his family embarked on to unravel the root of this evil, no enemy surfaced.
(Series compiled and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories.)