A 20-year-old man, Ndubuisi Nwaefuru has been arrested and detained by police after setting his master’s apartment on fire while the family was asleep in his desperate bid to escape with his stolen funds.
Nwaefuru, an apprentice trader based in Onitsha, Anambra state reportedly stole N121,000 from Mmaduabuchi Ejimora, his master, who insisted on his returning the money.
As a result of his master’s demand, the suspect, a native of Ogboje in Ezza North local government area of Ebonyi state, hatched the plot to set the family ablaze and fled with his loot.
It was gathered that hours after the master trader gave the ultimatum or risk being sent packing, his apartment on the second floor of a 5-storey building at No. 28 Nnewi Street, Odoakpu, Onitsha, went up in flames while he, his wife and three children were fast asleep inside.
The family of five would have been wiped out if not for the timely intervention of neighbours who saw the midnight inferno and broke into the flat,
According to a neighbour who preferred anonimity, when they broke into the flat, they discovered that the apprentice boy locked the entrance door from outside so that the whole family would not have any means of escape from the fire.
“It was by miracle that they survived because the entire rooms in the flat had been engulfed in flame and thick smoke filled everywhere while the oga, his wife and three children were sleeping.
He added that shortly after the family was rescued from the raging fire and sympathisers managed to douse the flames, the boy was arrested while trying to flee the premises and he confessed to the crime.
“He confessed to the crime but claimed that he wanted to commit suicide by jumping down from the second floor to avoid the wrath of the law but for the fact that some co-tenants who rushed out were watching the inferno from down stairs.
“Prior to the arrival of police operatives from the Fegge divisional police station at the scene on a tip-off, the apprentice had shed more light on the motive behind setting the apartment ablaze.
He said, “I stole the N121,000 and put it in my bank account which I have already told my Oga (master) when he was threatening to deal with me. I told him that I would get it in the morning from the bank.
“So, when he went to sleep with his wife and three children, I sneaked out, bought fuel, kerosene and oil that I spread in the entire flat so that I will set the house on fire and all of them will die and I will be free”.
“Because of fear of being touched by the fire, I did not use the fuel again. I kept it outside the flat and then pour only the kerosene in such a way that it flowed to the entire rooms and then I used matches to ignite the fire and the tenants who saw it raised alarm and rushed to quench it.
“If not that some of the tenants were down stairs I would have jumped down to die because my plan had failed me as they did not die because the rescuers came in as soon as I lit the fire.”
It was further learnt that though most part of the rooms were torched by the inferno, the whole flat was not razed due to the timely intervention of neighbours and tiled floor.
Efforts to get the view of the affected master proved abortive as he was said to have been rushed to an undisclosed hospital alongside his wife and children for medical attention.
When contacted, the Fegge divisional police officer, DPO, CSP Rabiu Garba, confirmed the incident but declined further comment as he referred this reporter to Awka for details.