47 others hospitalised
Police in Cross River State have apprehended a man, identified simply as Paul, for allegedly poisoning food which claimed the lives of a couple.
At least 47 others were hospitalised after eating the food Paul reportedly poisoned at a restaurant at Mbube in Ogoja Local Government Area on Friday.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, disclosed that the suspect was said to have been ostracised by the community for criminal conduct before the incident “but nobody has come out to say that he was actually the person who poisoned the food”.
Ogoja community was jolted on Friday when the owner of a restaurant in the sleepy town of Mbube and his wife were found dead after eating “Akpu” (cassava flour) with melon (egusi) soup, while about 47 others were hospitalised in the General Hospital and some private hospitals in Ogoja.
According to Inuwa, the suspect has not been identified by any of the villagers as the one who poisoned the food, “but everybody suspects that he must be the one because he was ostracised and he went to a nearby village, roaming about”.
“When I went to the place, I asked if he was working in the restaurant, and the people said no. I asked if he came and ate there and they said no. I then asked if he was found around there and the people said no.
Then I told my Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Ogoja to be careful of the case and do justice to it because I don’t want an innocent person to suffer,” Inuwa told our correspondent in a telephone interview.
The police chief said Paul’s arrest was on the suspicion that he could have committed the crime because of the decision of the community to ostracise him.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, has said that many of those who were hospitalised, especially at the General Hospital, Ogoja, had either been discharged or were responding to treatment. Asibong, who alleged that the poisoning was not unconnected with the ostracism of a man in the village of Mbube, said she had mobilised medical personnel to do everything within their means to contain the situation.
She said: “Our medical personnel are in place and we have worked round the clock to ensure the situation is contained.”