Claret Opara-Bassey, a Nigerian lawyer who was based in Calabar, reportedly died in a crash while chasing her husband who fled when she saw him with his alleged lover on Sunday, September 18. The case caused quite a stir online.
Now, Chibuzor Opara is an elder brother of the late Claret speaks to ALEXANDER OKERE about the tragic incident
How are you related to the deceased?
I am her elder brother. I am the seventh child in the family. She was the ninth. We are 10 siblings.
Tell us more about the late Claret.
She was a lawyer. She was practicing in Calabar. She was a very vibrant and jovial woman. She was a good sister. She was tolerant.
Is it true that the man identified by media reports as Sunday Bassey, who she was running after before the fatal crash, is her husband?
For how long were they married?
It should be more than 15 years.
How many children do they have?
They have three intelligent and beautiful children. The first should be more than 15 years old.
Did she ever complain to you about her husband or accuse him of not behaving responsibly?
Let me put it this way, in marriages, there are challenges. There will be disagreements. Maybe with her knowledge of my previous temperament, she was not telling me much.
Why did you say so? Was she concerned that you might overreact?
Perhaps, there was a time I heard about a disagreement she had with her husband and I told her that I would go to Calabar and confront her husband but she told me not to come. I know the husband but she advised me to let it be.
What do you know about the husband?
What I mean is we are friends. From my knowledge of him, he is lively to an extent. We take our in-laws as part of our family.
Did she complain to you or the family about her husband cheating on her?
Cheating? My sister knew that he was cheating. She did not actually tell me as a complaint but in passing, she mentioned that.
Did she specifically tell you what she observed?
The way she spoke about it showed that she knew that he sometimes engaged his female friends. My sister knew that her husband, from time to time, was cheating.
Do you know for how long he had been doing that?
I think it was two years ago that I heard her saying such but from what I have been reading on social media, it looks like she told her friends about her travels more than she did to me.
Was this something that was a concern to you and your siblings, especially since she did not reveal details of her worry about her husband’s behaviour?
Many men engage in extramarital affairs. It is quite common and it depends on how one sees life or their religious or social conviction. When a man cheats, a woman prays not to get entangled with what he is doing outside. There was never a day the family sat to talk about what the man was doing. I never expected this (her death) to happen. A husband and a wife can disagree or even fight but after disagreeing, they make up.
Can you narrate how the incident occurred or how you got to know about it?
He (her husband) called my elder brother and my elder brother called to tell me about it. He (husband) did not even know how it (the crash) happened.
What did he tell your elder brother?
He told my elder brother that she was involved in an accident. I even thought that she was driving and chatting because we have a family chat room when she made a comment about 6pm or 7pm. So, when I heard about the accident, my question was: was she chatting and driving at the same time, and perhaps, got involved in an accident? It was the following day that I saw the news on social media and people were making some nasty comments about what they thought they knew. I cannot tell you everything about their marriage because they have children and whatever you put out there, their children will see and it will affect them. Let me be plain to you. I cannot tell you everything I know because I know that his first son is on social media, so people should try to help them.
Do you feel she took that decision to run after him in her car because she could no longer bear it?
I think so to an extent but I do not want to talk about their marriage until certain things get settled. I think something happened, something made her do that. It was not just because her husband was with another lady. No. I think there must have been something else because she knew that her husband was unfaithful to her. There is another reason that triggered her action; perhaps, somebody called her and for that reason, she went out.
Some people think your sister should have focused on herself and her children. Do you think your late sister should have heeded that advice?
I think I will say yes. If she had opened up to me and if I had known that it would lead to this (her death), I would have told her to pull out (of the marriage) but I don’t think there was anything one could look at to say that it would lead to this (her death).
Do you think her husband did not do well by not telling your brother what exactly happened, that your sister was involved in a car crash while chasing him after sighting him with another woman?
I did not hear from him, so I do not know his state of mind when the accident happened. To be sincere, I do not think that when he was running, he expected her to be involved in an accident. Let me put it that way. Let us be fair. He did what I will say any man who was caught would do.
But his action attracted condemnation from many who read the news online.
I am not exonerating him. I am not saying that what he did was right. I did not say so but any man who does not want to be caught red-handed or does not want to be grabbed by his wife when he does something (wrong) would run.
At what point did your late sister’s husband get it wrong?
He got it wrong by getting involved in an extramarital affair. That was where it (the problem) started.
Did he at any point in the marriage complain about your late sister not treating him well?
From what I read on social media, he knew the lady (side chic) long ago but I do not know whether it is true or not, that he dated her while they were undergraduates and that he met my sister while they were both undergraduates. He met her as a Law student. He was also a Law student. They met as undergraduates and it continued until they got married. I think it was a lack of self-discipline, if I may put it that way.
There are photos of a lady on social media alleged to be the woman your late sister’s husband had an affair with. Do you or any of your siblings know the lady?
I saw a picture on social media. I do not know. People called her Lisa or so; I do not remember. I think I saw him with a dark lady but whether she is the person or not, I don’t know. I don’t know her. I only know one or two of his family members.
How did you feel about the event leading to your sister’s death as reported on social media?
Nobody can see or read the news about the death of somebody close to them and feel happy about it. I was sad. It is quite unfortunate. Some men are like that.
Do you think your late sister’s husband made efforts to get her medical attention before she died?
I was not there. Some said that he continued driving (when the crash occurred). Some said that he helped in pulling her out of the car. I saw the picture of my late sister. He could not have pulled her out of the car and left her on the ground. So, I don’t think that he was there when she was pulled out. I am not sure. I have no reason to believe that but what has happened has happened.
Has he formally reported her death to your siblings?
He has not come. My family is in Owerri. He called my elder brother and my brother called me on the same day.
Has any of his siblings contacted you?
Not to my knowledge.
Do you know where her body is at the moment?
It is in Calabar, in a morgue there.
Does your family intend to bury her soon or wait for a proper investigation to be done?
Time will tell.
How are your parents taking the news of her death?
My father is dead and my mother has not heard of it (Claret’s death). We want to take some time before she gets to know about it.
Was she the only daughter of your parents?
There are three others who are still alive.
Are the police aware of the incident and have they contacted you or any of your siblings?
Not to my knowledge.
Do you know the whereabouts of your late sister’s husband?
He is still in Calabar.
Do you expect the police to take up the case?
Do I expect them to come into the matter? If they are to come into the matter, let them find the person that called my sister. I believe somebody called my sister to tell her about the husband.
Do you think that person has a case to answer?
I don’t know whether it is a case but it was that person that caused all this. Somebody must have seen him and called her (Claret), having told the wife that he was travelling, and then due to the other factor that I don’t want to talk about.
If the matter is taken up by the police, do you want justice to take its course?
What is justice in this matter? What will he be tried or jailed for? For infidelity? Talking about morality and conscience, he can be linked to it (her death) but with our social values, personally, I am not looking towards any case. I am not the eldest. It will be handled internally. That is my opinion, anyway. I am part of the family. The real reason why she went out to catch them (her husband and the lady) is something I may not be able to disclose at the moment but what has happened has happened. Let men learn to respect their marriages. If you believe in polygamy, let it be known that you are a polygamist. There is no need to keep women here and there. I am a Christian but everybody is not a Christian.
Source: The PUNCH