A 25-year-old man, Tochukwu Madu, has set himself ablaze after a failed attempt to kill his mother with a cutlass.
The tragedy, which occurred on Wednesday, also led to the razing of their bungalow situated on No. 12 Bonny Street in Umuahia, Abia State.
Part of the building, located at the heart of the state capital, serves as stores for traders, who have converted the street to a mini-market after the relocation of the Umuahia Main Market from a nearby location to Ubani.
According to an eyewitness and a tenant in the building, Mrs. Precious Madu, the culprit, a notorious Indian hemp smoker, attacked the mother around 10:30 pm after locking her up in their two-room apartment.
Another source said he inflicted several deep cuts in the mother’s head and upper arm until she slumped and pretended to be dead before he left her to kill their dog, which was barking inside the compound.
But before he could return to complete his mission on the mother, the woman had managed to escape through the window.
The culprit was said to have made a move to slaughter his elder brother whom he had also locked up in another room, but the brother was smart enough to escape through the ceiling.
The police were quickly alerted by neighbours who noticed the strange development.
When the police arrived the scene and started searching for the suspect, he was said to have disappeared into one of the rooms in their house where he securely locked up himself.
He was said to have poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire that also gulped the entire building.
“As the police were looking for him and could not see him, what we noticed suddenly was that smoke started coming out from one of the rooms. Before it was broken, the whole house was already up in flames.
“When finally, the door to the room was broken, he was found burning and efforts to save him proved abortive as he died immediately as a result of severe burns,” the source said.
Mrs. Madu (tenant), who said she lost all her property to the inferno, appealed to the government and public-spirited individuals to come to her rescue and that of other tenants, adding that nobody could save a pin from the house.
When Southern City News visited the scene of the incident on Thursday, charred cloths and tailoring materials were observed in one of the rooms, which served as a workshop for a tailor.
The rooms were also littered with burnt household items and personal belongings while the roof of the house was damaged by fire.
Meanwhile, the mother is currently hospitalised at the intensive care unit of the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, where doctors are still battling to save her life, following deep machete cuts inflicted on her by the deranged son.
An officer of the state fire services, Mr. Chukwuemeka Okezie, who helped to put out the fire, told our correspondent that if not for the timely intervention of his men, the fire would have spread to other buildings in the neighborhood.
He called for quick and united action against drug abuse and Indian hemp consumption, especially among youths and observed that drug abuse had been on the increase nationwide.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ezekiel Onyeke, confirmed the incident, describing it as ‘very unfortunate’.
Onyeke said the wounded mother had been responding to treatment and appealed to parents to report any of their children or wards suspected to be consuming any form of hard drug to the law enforcement agents for necessary actions to avoid any form of colossal damage.