An accidental meeting between 24-year-old hair stylist, Miss Juliet Osimen from Esan West Local Government Area, Edo State, and Austin, a native of Emu-Unoh, Ndokwa West Area, Delta State, in Warri, glued them together. Barely three years into the affair, Austin, shattered the promising life of his lover with a cruel acid bath.
Today, after battling to survive with a year-long intensive care at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin, Edo State, Juliet still requires over N5 million lifeline for a medical trip to Indian, as she struggles to pick up the pieces of her devastated life.
… in the beginning
According to Vanguard Juliet met Austin while working at a fast food centre in the Niger Cat neighbourhood of Ekpan, Delta State, where her father, Pastor Sunday Osimen, farmer and Head at the Mountain of God’s Grace Ministry in the area, also owns a modest home.
Recalling the good times, Juliet said:
“Austin was very generous in the relationship and often granted most of the requests I made. As a result, I hardly hesitated when he started making proposals for marriage and coming close to my family.
“When we met, he was living with his uncle at Nnewi Street, off Aka Avenue, Effurun.
“As the relationship grew, we rented a self-contained apartment at satellite Ugolo community, Okpe Council area, where we shared privacy occasionally, while I still lived with my parents.
“Though, I cherished his uncommon generosity towards me and my siblings, I started getting worried about the source of his income, which to me did not connect with the generator repairs job he told me he does for a living.
“My suspicions were confirmed the day we went to Obiaruku for the marriage of his friend. There is a particular bag he does not allow me or anyone else touch at all.
“This fateful day, as he was having an after wedding drinking spree with friends in the hotel we lodged, I opened the secret bag in our room.
“I was shocked by two items I found. An identity card as a Federal Government Amnesty beneficiary and a document list of guns and other dangerous weapons submitted by his group during the arms mop up.
“From that moment, my interest in the affair died and I wanted out immediately. I knew I was living with an unrepentant criminal because he is easily irritated and always bragging about how tough he is and how he can deal with anyone and go away with it.
“That night at Obiaruku, I confronted him on his criminal identity and why he kept it from me. He said he was worried I would leave him and he does not want to lose me.“But I knew it was dangerous to make a sudden quit, so I started limiting my contact with him and thinking of how best to stop the affair permanently.
“That moment, I made it clear I was no longer interested and would not marry a criminal disguising as repentant. I meant every word of it.
“Then, I further learned that the man I was planning to marry is a father of three, married to a woman elsewhere.… and the threats began
“I confronted him. He admitted and again said he kept that from me for fear of losing me. He said he could not do without me, so he wants me as second wife. I said over my dead body.
“As I gradually limited my contact with him, he introduced a catch phrase whenever the issue of breaking the relationship came up.
“He would say, ‘You can’t leave me. If you try it, I will so damage you that no man would want to look at you, so I will still be the only one to marry you.’
“I could tell from his anger and tone, whenever he says it, that this was no empty threat, but I needed to get out of the affair.
“I trained as a hair stylist and work for a salon owner, while also doing home service for some clients on Sundays.
“One Sunday, I was home fixing a customer’s hair when my phone rang. It was Austin’s call so I ignored it.
“Usually, he is very jealous and gets upset if he does not know my whereabouts and cannot get me on the phone for a second and he can beat me for that.
Pulling a knife; the acid bath
“At night at Ugolo that day, he pulled a knife from the kitchen, threatening to kill me, saying he saw a man taking me out the period I failed to pick his call.
“I was afraid he could harm me so I refused confrontation with him before he dropped the knife. Next morning, he came to my work place apologizing for his action after complaining to my madam.
“The evening of the Monday (February 25, 2013) preceding the Sunday he threatened me with a knife at Ugolo, I refused his calls again after closing from work and went to my parents’ home.
“He then called my younger sister, asking if my parents were home. That was about midnight.A father’s story
“It was very hot that night. At some minutes to 1am, February 26, I had just my towel tied on me when I slept close to the window.
“Suddenly, I heard and felt a shower of liquid from outside through the window. The person aimed and poured it all over my body as I lay faced up.“Immediately, I started shouting, ‘Igwe (Austin) had poured acid on me’ repeatedly and ran out as the liquid was burning my body. I saw him running away.”
Her father, Pastor Osimen, said he and the wife, Caroline, were at their farmhouse at Orega, along Sapele Road, where they farm most weekdays before retiring home to the children and church service on Sunday, when he got a distressing message.
“I was contacted after she had been rushed to the Ekpan General Hospital. I returned from the farming expedition and lodged complaint at the Ekpan Police Division.Arrested
“We could not focus on the police case because saving my daughter’s life first was uppermost.
“From Ekpan General Hospital, she was referred to the Oghara Teaching Hospital, Oghara in Delta State. From there, she was referred to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, in Benin, Edo State.She was under intensive care at UBTH for almost a year with the medical bill rising to N2 million, way beyond my purse. But by some divine intervention, some persons from the Edo State government, I guess, came and settled the huge bill before she was discharged.”
Pastor Osimen asserted, “back to Delta at the close of 2014, we opened the case to prosecute Austin at the Warri Area Command.
“After two years in hiding, within which even his uncle at Aka Avenue also relocated to unknown location, the police caught him, last month.”
It was learned that a source who knew him, noticed that he was in custody at the Ekpan Police Station, having been arrested and brought from Lagos in connection with a kidnap case.
According to Juliet’s father,
“when I met him at Ekpan Police Station, I said to him, ‘Igwe is this you?’ he replied, ‘Daddy, I beg.’“I said, ‘you are begging to go free after deliberately maiming my daughter?’”
N5m lifeline to save a soul
Austin’s trial was supposed to start, Thursday, January 29, at an Effurun court in the state.
At press time, the suspect was on remand at the Warri prisons.
Juliet’s doctor said at least N5 million was required for further treatment abroad to further manage the dreadful scars of the acid burns, especially her face and the chest region, as well as the health challenges the attack still posed to her.
“It is hard to explain how bad and demoralized I feel over this condition I have found myself.“I am, however, very grateful to God and those who have assisted me. But I need to be able to fulfill my dreams in life. I was to sit for JAMB before the attack.“I still want to get higher education; I still want to be useful to myself. Now I can hardly do anything meaningful.”
Joined by his wife, Pastor Osimen said:
“We are appealing to the public to please help us and our daughter with donations to go to India for her surgery.
“May God help you as you send your donations to Osimen Sunday, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, account number, 3054669825.”