Five members of a family were killed yesterday when a Lexus jeep collided with a motorcycle, along Nkwoedo market in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, Daily Trust report.
It was gathered that the deceased were heading towards Oraifite, when the driver of vehicle which was approaching from the opposite direction lost control and veered off his lane, killing the motorcyclist and the four passengers.
A witness, who said the victims belong to one family, said they died on the spot while the driver of the vehicle who was carrying two persons quickly alighted and took to their heels, abandoning the car. He said the corpses had been deposited at a nearby hospital morgue.
Confirming the incident, the state Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Sunday Ajayi, blamed the accident on over-overloading and traffic violation, describing it as unfortunate.
According to LIB report, ‘Last night, an event (Delta Alive) organised by Shina Peller (owner of Quilox night club) went down in Warri. The show had Davido, Lil Kesh, Ice Prince, CDQ and others as headliners.
According to an inside source, trouble started from the airport when Davido was picked up in a G-Wagon while Ice Prince was picked up with a saloon car.
The gesture infuriated Ice Prince and he let the organisers know he wasn’t pleased. Davido got to hear of his complains and was angry too.
Then the issue escalated during the concert when Ice Prince was made to perform before Lil Kesh, a move that’s seen as an insult to the bigger artiste.
Ice Prince made it an issue back stage and Davido who had been boiling from the car complaint and obviously a close friend of Lil Kesh jumped in defence of Kesh and things got messy.
Our source said, ‘when they got back to the hotel, Davido was really pissed so much that he went to Ice Prince’s door and started shouting and banging on the door before they calmed him down.
When they were coming back to Lagos, they had to move them to the airport separately and put them in separate lounges at the airport because they were still boiling at each other’.
There’s also news that the fight backstage led to the destruction of equipment but LIB cant verify that information at the moment as effort to reach all parties involved has been futile so far.
As Nigerians continue to mourn the shocking demise of the football fans who were electrocuted at a viewing centre at Nyaghassang Community, Calabar Municipality of Cross River State on Thursday night while watching the return leg match between Manchester United and Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa league, two women saturday lamented that they did everything to prevent their husbands from going to the viewing centre on the ill-fated day.
One of the women, Mrs. Elizabeth Alex Samuel, a mother of a year-old child, who is now a widow as a result of the incident said, if her late husband, Mr. Samuel, had taken to her constant advice, and warning, perhaps he wouldn’t have died at the viewing centre that fateful night.
The woman, who was in a sober mood when she narrated her ordeal, said after the incident happened, her husband was among those evacuated to the hospital, but she learnt the following day that he was among those who died.
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Samuel who was carrying her child said, “Every day I warned him not to watch football in that viewing centre. That night, he went to watch football. The next thing I heard shouting and they said people have died. I was waiting I did not see him. I heard they had rushed him to the hospital. I was crying throughout. It was yesterday (Friday) they came and told me that my husband was dead”.
On a similar note, another woman who gave her name as Mary Okon said her husband, Mr. Emmanuel Okon, lost his life to the incident. Mary said she tried to stop her late husband from going to the viewing centre that night because she wanted him to eat, and stay at home with the family.
She said her late husband, who was a Manchester United fan, left to watch the match despite her asking him to stay back, and eat the food she was preparing.
“I was boiling rice for him and then he decided to go and watch the match. I told him to stay back and eat but he said I should come and meet him when it was ready. When the incident happened I went there to look for him and when I found him he was not moving. There were bodies lying on the floor everywhere. I carried him with the help of his nephew, but he was not responding. His body was cold. With the help of a neighbour who is a taxi man, we carried him to the hospital where we were told he was dead,” she said, while sobbing.
Also speaking, Godswill Okon, a nephew to the late woman’s husband said: “That evening, me and my uncle were just joking about the match. He is a Man U fan and I am a Chelsea fan. So, we were playfully arguing, and I told him Man U will lose. He said no way that they would win. So, when it was time for the match, he called me to go with him and watch, but I felt somehow and decided not to go.
“Normally, I would have been there to watch the game, but I suddenly did not feel too well. People were even surprised that I did not go to watch. It was while we were at home that we heard the noise, and we went out; and I got there and saw my uncle dead. My uncle was a very loving and kind person. He was the one who was taking care of me. My school fees, accommodation, feeding, clothes, everything. I don’t know what I would do now that he is gone. Who would come to our help?”, he lamented.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara yesterday called for investigation into the unfortunate incident which led to the death of football fans in the Calabar viewing centre.
Dogara, who expressed sadness over the development, however, condoled with the families of those who lost their lives as well as those who survived the incident, and the people and government of the state.
The police had confirmed that no fewer than seven persons watching the Europa League match between Manchester United and Anderlecht football clubs died by electrocution on Thursday.
However, Dogara, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on media and publicity, Turaki Hassan, said: “My heart goes out to the families of football fans who died in the incident at the viewing centre. At this moment, my thoughts and prayers are with the affected families, survivors, and the government and good people of Cross River state following this sad incident.
“It is my ardent hope that survivors are receiving adequate care, and that the state government is taking the necessary steps to avoid a recurrence of such a sad incident”, the Speaker said, and urged the state government to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Also, former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has lamented over the tragic death of the soccer fans, who were electrocuted at the viewing centre in Calabar.
In a condolence message to the Governor of Cross River state, Senator Ben Ayade, Senator Mark said it was sad that such young people met their untimely deaths while watching a game that should ordinarily bring joy and excitement to them. He described the incident as one tragedy too many.
“The death of over 30 soccer fans in one incident is a huge loss to the nation. It is more tragic because these were promising Nigerians who looked forward to a rewarding future. They represented the future dreams of our father land. They were the ready hands on which our future lies. But we are incapable of questioning the will of the Almighty. May God grant them eternal rest”, Mark said, in a statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Paul Mumeh.
Mark suggested that public utility providers should take precautionary measures to avoid future re-occurrence. In spite of the tragedy, he believes that “soccer is a unifying tool between and among Nigerians that must of a necessity be promoted and encouraged in our society”.
Meanwhile, former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa yesterday promised to build a standard viewing centre at Nyaghassang Community, Calabar Municipality in memory of people who died at the viewing centre in the community.
Ita-Giwa said she was making the promise on behalf of mothers of the Efik Kingdom, whom she led to visit the victims of the viewing centre tragedy. She put the blame of the incident on those she described as the political class, saying the sad event was an indictment on them.
“We as mothers of the Efik Kingdom feel the pains of the mothers, wives and children of those who died here. We are here to sympathise and commiserate with them. We appreciate the President for showing sympathy for what has happened. We are not going to stop there and let this slide. We are going to set up a help line with designated help lines to help victims of the incident.
“We will build a viewing centre to commemorate the people that died here. We call on football lovers, football stars, Manchester United to come and help government to alleviate the problems of the victims.
“What shocked me when I got here was the state of the place where people paid N50 to come and watch football. I am here as a mother but I would not also deny the fact the fact that I am a politician. So these are the kind of things I see as a politician that make me feel very guilty that the people are not living well in this country, because under normal circumstances these are some of the things a representative should provide. These are some of the things that keep the boys off crime.
“Nigerians are great football enthusiasts. We will try to forestall future occurrences to see the state of other viewing centres to prevent further loss of lives. As mothers, we will do our best to alleviate the pains of the people. We share the pains. We urge football lovers, don’t allow this make you lose your interest in football; don’t let it wane your passion for football,” Ita-Giwa said.
Responding, the secretary of the Nyaghassang Community, Iso Bassey Edim, thanked Ita-Giwa and the Efik mothers for the gesture. Edim said the community was working towards completing the exact figure of victims of the incident.
No fewer than seven people were officially pronounced dead following the collapse of a high tension cable on the roof of a football viewing centre, where football fans were watching the Manchester United versus Anderlecht return leg match of the UEFA Europa league.
Also, the Commissioner representing Cross River on the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), Mr. Sylvester Nsa has commiserated with families of the electrocuted victims. In a press statement he issued in Calabar, Nsa described the incident as unfortunate, noting that the loss of lives under such circumstance was regrettable.
The commissioner commiserated with the bereaved families while wishing the injured speedy recovery. He, however advised the Town Planning department and other regulatory agencies in Cross River not to approve the construction of houses under high tension cable.
Nsa said houses already constructed under high tension cables should immediately be demolished by relevant authorities to forestall future occurrence of such unfortunate incidents.
Also, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) says it has taken the photographic data of the affected area of Nyagasang community where the electrocution tragedy occurred.
The identity of a Nigerian pastor discreetly patronizing Nollywood actresses are set to be revealed in a new book written by Cossy Ojiakor.
The busty actress, today – 22nd of April, 2017 announced the completion of her book which will x-ray the spate of professional prostitution among actresses in the Nigerian film industry constantly sleeping with rich and influential men for massive financial benefits.
The soft copy of the book titled ‘Ungrateful Delilah’ has been forwarded to a publishing company – Cassava Republic.
It was a path football lovers in Nyaghassang Community in Calabar Municipality, Cross River State, had trodden for years – watching football matches at a popular viewing centre on Access High School Road.
Hence they had not the slightest inkling of the tragedy that lurked in the corner when they gathered to watch the Europa League quarter final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht football clubs on Thursday night.
A high-tension cable, which, according to a Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) official, was the UNICAL 11KV Feeder, fell on the viewing centre at about 9.30 pm, leaving many of the passionate football lovers in the building electrocuted. Initial reports put the casualty figure at more than 30. But when our correspondent visited the scene, several eyewitnesses said the number of people that died on the spot ranged between seven and 10.
The Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Dr. Ogbu Ngim, who represented the Chief Medical Director, Dr Thomas Agan, said 18 persons were brought to the hospital with various degrees of burns. He said seven were confirmed dead, while the remaining 11 were responding to treatment.
It was observed that the viewing centre, constructed with zinc, was located directly under a high-tension cable, just like many other buildings in the area. The cable fell on the building when a nearby transformer exploded. It was estimated that the viewing centre harboured about 120 people at the time.
It was gathered that while the match was on, there was a loud noise from the transformer occasioning power outage, following which the cable landed on the roof of the viewing centre. It was gathered that the football fans were aware that the cable landed on the roof, but they were so keen on watching the match that they ignored it.
Rather than vacate the hall, they urged the owner of the centre to put on his generator, saying that there was no current in the cable that fell on the roof. Unfortunately, moments after the owner of the viewing centre switched on the generator, public power was restored and fire erupted in the building.
An eyewitness recalled that the building suddenly began to vibrate while the fire raged. In the ensuing stampede, many of the viewers escaped while many others got electrocuted.
“As their bodies got in contact with the zinc, which now had current running through it, many of them got electrocuted. That was how the problem escalated,” the eyewitness said.
A young man who identified himself simply as Innocent said: “I was inside the building when we heard the first explosion. Some of us came outside and we saw the cable that had fallen on the roof. In fact, some people were passing under the cable as they were calling the owner of the viewing centre to put on the generator so that they could continue watching the match.
“When the generator was switched on, people went inside. My saving grace was that I stood outside, waiting for the DSTV (Direct Satellite Television) to finish loading. You know that DSTV normally takes time to load when it goes off. So I stood outside for some minutes. But just as I was going inside to check if the match had restarted, I saw a close friend who had sat in front of me running out. His body touched the zinc wall and he fell to the ground.
“Before I knew it, people started running out in numbers, trying to get out of the door at the same time. That was how they started falling one after the other right in front of me. I saw my friend die in my presence but there was nothing I could do.
When the fire had died down, people came around to help remove the bodies. They were just pulling bodies out like logs of wood. It was like hell fire. This is something that would traumatise me for the rest of my life. Those who did not rush out during the incident were the ones that were safe.
“For me, I counted eight people who died on the spot. They were six men and two women. Thank God it did not happen on the day Barcelona played Juventus or the day Chelsea played Man United, because the place would have been more jam-packed and the causalities would have been more.”
Another young man who identified himself as Dominic said he had paid to watch the match and was already watching when he got a call from a friend to join him for a drink.
He said: “I had already paid N50 and was watching the match. Then, a friend of mine called me to join him at Doris O Hotel, so I left and joined him there and continued watching the match also. It was when I came back here that I learnt of the disaster. It was the call from my friend that saved my life.”
Mr. Chris Abang, who also would have been at the viewing centre, said he was delayed by his wife.
He said: “I had just come back from Ogoja and was in a hurry to go and watch the match. I am a Man U fan, so I could not wait to watch match. But my wife insisted that I stayed back and eat something. I decided to listen to her. By the time I arrived the viewing centre, the whole incident happened right in my presence. My wife’s delay saved my life.”
But a certain Emmanuel Okon, who lost his life in the incident, was not so lucky. According to his wife, Mary, being a Manchester United fan, he left to watch the match, ignoring her plea that he should eat before going for the match.
Speaking between sobs, she said: “I was boiling rice for him, but he decided to go and watch the match. I told him to stay back and eat but he said I should come and call him when it was ready. When the incident occurred, I went there to look for him. When I finally found him, he lay on the ground lifeless. There were bodies everywhere on the ground. I carried him with the help of his nephew, but he was not responding. His body was cold. With the help of a neighbour who is a taxi driver, we took him to the hospital where we were told that he was dead.”
The late Okon’s nephew, Godswill Okon, also recalled in tears: “That evening, my uncle and I were just joking about the match. He is a Man U fan and I am a Chelsea fan. So we were playfully arguing and I told him that Man U would lose but he said they would win. When it was time for the match, he called me to go with him to watch, but I felt somehow and decided not to go. Normally, I would be there to watch the game, but I suddenly did not feel too well. People were even surprised that I did not go to watch.
“While we were at home, we heard about the incident. I got there and saw my uncle dead. My uncle was a very loving and kind person. He was the one taking care of me. My school fees, accommodation, feeding, clothes, everything. I don’t know what I would do now that he is gone?”
Spokesperson of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), John Onyi, said the company was yet to ascertain the number of casualties.
He said: “We are not here to apportion blame but to investigate. It was UNICAL 11KV Feeder that snapped and fell on top of the roof. The viewing centre was in PHEDC’s right of way. There should be at least a 12.5-metre gap with the high-tension cable. But as you can see, there are buildings right under the high-tension cable.
“Our investigations would include who gave approvals for buildings to be constructed under high tension cables. But like I said, we are not here for blame. Our condolences go to families that have been affected. We appeal for calm.”
The Secretary of the Nyaghassang Qua Clan Council, Comrade Iso Basey Edim, said it was unfair that the PHEDC did not bother to maintain their equipment but were only interested in collecting money or disconnecting power. He urged that the government should do something about the situation.
The Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ivara Esu, who visited the scene of the incident, commiserated with the victims, saying the government would take charge of the treatment of those affected by the incident. He said an investigation would be launched into the matter.
Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Christian Ita, ordered the setting up of a commission of inquiry on the viewing centre tragedy.
Ayade, who also commiserated with the victims, described the incident as tragic and horrifying, saying the state government would also offer assistance to the victims and their families.
In a recent interview, former Big Brother Naija housemate, Ekemini Ekerete also known as Kemen, has declared that judges of the reality television show were unfair to have disqualified him from the programme.
The reality TV star who was in March 2017, disqualified after he was caught on tape fondling Tboss’ breast without her consent when she was asleep, reacted to a question on whether the judges who disqualified him were fair.
“I don’t think they were fair but in their perception of the scenario, it is normal for them to take the decision they took because it was necessary at that time based on how sensitive they were to the issue,” Kemen told New Telegraph.
On if T-boss led him into touching her breast, the fitness trainer said, “There was no leading on, I and T-Boss had a cordial relationship. There was no leading on of any sort and there was no case of molestation.”
“Halitosis commonly known as bad breath, affects a lot of people at one point in their lives. It is an embarrassing odor that emerges from the mouth and is easily detected by others.
“Although, there are many causes of halitosis, in most cases people suffer from bad breath due to poor oral hygiene. This result in bacterial activity in the mouth that release substances such as volatile sulphur compounds,” she said.
The dentist said that quite surprisingly, some people with bad breath might not even know they have a problem until they were told.
“Bad breath is a common problem that can cause significant psychological distress.
“One way to check if you have halitosis is to lick your wrist, leave it dry and smell it, if the smell is bad you know that you have bad breath,” she said.
According to her, other potential causes of bad breath include smoking, dry mouth, systemic illnesses including throat and gastrointestinal disorders.
She advised that a person suffering from halitosis should have their teeth checked and cleaned professionally on a regular basis.
“The tongue is a primary source of bad breath; when food particles aren’t completely removed from the mouth, they collect bacteria on the tongue and around the gums.
“Regular professional cleanings can help to reduce bad breath; the dentist removes bacteria deposits on the teeth above and below the gum line.
“However, if after a routine examination and cleaning you still experience bad breath, the cause may be a medical disorder,” she said.
Some suspects who were allegedly caught while perpetrating certain irregularities in the ongoing registration for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations have reportedly confessed to spending over N20m to construct a radio platform with which they hacked into JAMB’s registration portal.
We reported earlier that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps arrested no less than five individuals who had deployed fake biometric capturing machines to register applicants.
According to Punch reports, the Spokesperson of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Dr Fabian Benjamin, in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday April 22, said:
“These registration thieves deployed fake biometric capturing mechanisms and super-imposed registration slips just to satisfy the curiosity of innocent candidates that their registration was successful. JAMB registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede “And on the day of examination, such candidates’ data would either be edited, or not found on the JAMB data base. “Such candidates would not be verified during the examination proper.” NAIJ.com also gathered that Benjamin disclosed that the fraudsters were arrested variously in Oyo, Ogun and Maiduguri by officers and men of the NSCDC and brought to Abuja. During their interrogations in Abuja, Benjamin said, the suspects gave startling revelations of how they conducted their operations.
“While being paraded in the presence of the Commandant-General of NSCDC, Abdullahi Gana Mohamadu, the fraudsters confessed to numerous registration infractions that JAMB couldn’t imagine,” Benjamin said.
President Muhammadu Buhari says Allah has answered Nigerians’ prayers for his health.
Buhari said this on Saturday in his condolences delivered by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambassau, to the family of a prominent Kano State businessman Alhaji Audu Adahama as well as the government and the people of the state.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu,who accompanied the minister, said Buhari thanked the people of the state for their profuse prayers and good wishes in the period he was away for treatment in London.
Shehu quoted the president as saying: “Allah has accepted your prayers and we are thankful to you for joining other Nigerians in saying those prayers for me and the nation. On behalf of my family, the government and the people of the entire country,please accept our heartfelt condolences.”
President Buhari, according to Shehu, described the death of the ex-customs officer and community leader as a painful loss.
Buhari affirmed that Adahama lived a worthy life having fully paid his dues to his community, the Customs which he served “with diligence and the country as a loyal and dutiful citizen.”
Responding, a family member and former chairman of the Kano Chamber of Commerce,Alhaji Saidu Dattijo Adahama, thanked Buhari for his interest in the wellbeing of the family and the people of the state in general.
He assured that Kano State would always be in support of President Buhari.
The Late Adahama, 78, was survived by four children, including the Special Assistant to the President on Youths Matters, Nasiru Adahama.
One Thursday over 20 years ago, on the 19th of September 1996, during the brutal regime of the late General Sani Abacha, something happened in Nigeria that shocked the entire world. In the usually calm and serene city of Owerri, capital of the country’s southeastern state of Imo, an 11-year-old boy named Anthony Ikechukwu Okoronkwo was meandering his way through the streets of the city with his precious tray of merchandise playfully balanced on his head. The little boy was hawking boiled groundnuts, which was his routine, the same condemned destiny for millions of other Nigerian kids today. But in his infantile innocence, the little boy was only doing what he was ordered to do by his parents. He strolled along, selling his groundnuts for peanuts to whoever wanted to buy. When he got to Amakohia area of Owerri, his eyes lit up with joy as a customer beckoned on him to approach. That ‘customer’ was named Innocent Ekeanyanwu, aged 32.
The boy was called into the famous Otokoto Hotel and the little groundnut seller was visibly very excited, since it was a hotel, it meant that the new ‘customer’ would probably be buying plenty groundnuts which will mean more money to take home to make his parents happy and assist his struggling family. As he sauntered into the central lobby and reception area of the hotel, he must have given a cute boyish smile as he was told to sit and wait a bit. While waiting, the boy was treated like a guest, he was given a bottle of Coca-Cola to cool off from the punishing heat of tropical Africa. As every innocent boy of his age would react, he quickly took the bottle of Coke and gulped it down with relish.
For many Nigerian kids, drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola inside the lobby of a hotel was more than a dream come true. Made to feel at home, he must have been wondering how nice his new and unusually receptive customers were. As he was sipping his soft drink and taking a look at the glittering surrounding of the hotel, he could have imagined having a hotel of his own too later in the future. As he was dreaming, his vision became blurry and the sounds around him became muzzled and dull. In a matter of minutes, he dozed off, never to wake up again. His tray full of groundnuts was lying in a corner.
Observing the boy from a safe distance was the man who had called him to buy his groundnuts. He had spiked the boy’s drink and once he saw he was asleep, he took the limp body of the drugged lad into one of the hotel rooms and what followed next remains one of the most evil things anyone can ever dream up. A sharp cutlass emerged from nowhere and the boy’s head was severed from his body. He was beheaded in a matter of minutes. Passersby outside the hotel had absolutely no idea of what was going on inside the ‘high-brow’ hotel. After the boy’s head was cut off, they proceeded to disembowel his torso and removed his liver and other parts they needed. They were not done yet, his genitals were not spared as well. After he was done butchering the boy, he sorted out the organs, packed his head inside a polythene bag and they made a shallow grave where they hurriedly buried his mangled remains. Of course, the boy’s parents somewhere in the city had no idea their little boy had just been gruesomely murdered. Ekeanyanwu then took the polythene bag containing the head and headed for the next destination: to the house of the man who needed the fresh head.
THE OTOKOTO HOTEL
At the time of its existence, Otokoto Hotel was located in an upscale area of Owerri, specifically the Amakohia side, and it was a favourite location for the rich and wealthy youths to meet, drink and have all manners of fun. Duru’s hotel was made up of three buildings, (three, five and six stories each, one behind the other). It was owned by Chief Vincent Duru, the father of Obidiozor Duru, the leader of the Black Scorpions secret cult responsible for a spate of robberies and kidnapping of children in the state. All of Owerri placed the Durus under their radar and surveillance, with rumours all over the place about their nefarious activities.
BACKGROUND TO THE STORY
Before this horrible incident, the people of Owerri (Ndi Owerre) were already very mad at the bizarre actions of some loud, extremely powerful and obscenely wealthy individuals in the state. These people were highly-connected and oppressed everyone where they went. Rumours were all over the place as to their very dark dealings and even the possibility of ritual murders and killings but no one really had any hard evidence yet or probably those who had it were too jittery to say anything. Whatever the case, these rich people who had no really tangible or easily traceable sources of wealth kept on living large and instilling an atmosphere of terror and fear on the Owerri populace. This was how Owerri was described at that time:
‘Luxurious commodities also became available in Owerri during the early 1990s, but mostly through a set of exclusive shops. These shops catered to members of their owners’ class: the newly affluent and generally youthful social elites of the town. Besides the arrival of airplanes in Owerri’s skies for the first time since Federalist bombing attacks during the late 1960s, the town’s bicycles and decrepit Peugeot 504 taxis now shared its potholed streets with the extraordinarily expensive automobiles and sports utility vehicles of the nouveaux riches. While the poorest Owerri indigenes listened to Igbo-languages programs on their radios and visited more wealthy relatives to watch frequently disrupted local television programming or videos, the town’s mansions were equipped with generators providing constant power, satellite dishes, video discs, and giant-screen televisions showing current international news, business reports, dramas, sitcoms, and music and movie programming from Great Britain and the United States.
By 1996, Ndi Owerre (Owerri indigenes) could, indeed, see what they had been missing before airport prosperity, but for most of them this was little more than a glimpse through the ornate gates of elite mansions or into shops whose goods had price tags the equivalent of several months’ earnings. Since a number of the town’s parvenu millionaires were not ndi owerre themselves, old ideals of reciprocity between wealthy and poorer clan members did not seem to apply under the new regime. This lack of reciprocity was especially felt as the young elites took titles and demonstrated their dollar/naira power at public, ‘cultural’ events like masquerade outings, weddings and funerals. Successful business entrepreneurship in 1990s….build lavish houses, and flaunt their riches in the faces of their suffering neighbours. When the question was posed about the origins of such untoward wealth, two possibilities beyond legitimate entrepreneurship presented themselves to the Owerri imaginary. First, the money could be the ill-gotten gains of Nigeria’s emerging culture of drug couriership and weapons sales. Second, and even more frighteningly, the money could be the product of the worst type of crime: the direct exploitation of children, whether as targets for parental extortion or as targets for money magic, a practice otherwise known in Nigerian Anglophone circles as’ritual murder’.’
That was a description of the atmosphere of Owerri of that time. And yes, the oppression by the wealthy was real. They flaunted their questionable wealth in the most nauseating manner, took all the chieftaincy titles, moved around with armed teams of police and soldiers harassing everyone on the roads, their cars had special and customized plates and any motorist who dared to protest got the beating of his life. These gods were virtually untouchable until everything scattered.
When the people heard of what happened inside the hotel to the boy, Owerri exploded with anger and resentment that had been piling up for years. For two straight days, the people of Owerri trooped out in their thousands, protesting and rioting. Not even the strong-arm tactics of the Imo State military administrator, Colonel Tanko Zubair, could stop them (the administration of the former military governor Navy Captain James Aneke was already seen as corrupt, 419-based and even complicit in the protection of the Otokoto men while he was in office). They simply ran amok and the national and international media focused on the Owerri riots of 24th and 25th of September, 1996, also known as the Otokoto riots, the people felt they had had more than enough.
Any property suspected to belong to the ’Otokoto men’ were set ablaze, from posh hotels to luxury supermarkets, their flashy automobiles, palatial mansions, everything was destroyed and burnt to the ground. A more detailed description of the riots is given in the subsequent sections. Any suspected member of the Otokoto gang was lynched. Prior to the riots, the youthful members of the Otokoto gang and other secret societies (believed to be offshoots of campus secret cults) involved in ritual killings went everywhere oppressing others with their ill-gotten wealth making other hardworking youths look clueless and silly. The mob action of the Owerri people was described thus by Declan Okpalaeke in the Echoes of Otokoto below:
‘Members of the irate mob arrogated to themselves the power of the judge and jury. It was for them, apparently, an opportunity for a putsch, for a cleansing of their once peaceful town. And they went about it with maddening fury. They pointed out magnificent buildings within the city suspected to belong to fraudsters and kidnappers. And once fingered, such buildings were marched upon were marched upon and torched with exotic cars and other properties destroyed, their owners pronounced guilty by the mob. As the crowd moved from one part of the town to another, more people joined in the act of fury and more victims fell to its jungle justice.’
The Owerri public had no faith in the police and as a matter of fact, the commissioner of police at that time, David Abure, was seen as the personification of corruption who wined and dined with the evil ones. But how did the news of the brutal hotel killings leak out to the public?
OWERRI EXPLODES: THE SHOCKING DISCOVERY
After the grisly murder of the little Okoronkwo by Mr. Innocent Ekeanyanwu (what a name, innocent indeed), he left the hotel to deliver the head where it was needed. It was the motorcycle operator named Opara who took him to his destination in Eziama who realized that was his passenger was carrying inside the polythene bag was actually a fresh human head. It was still dripping with blood. When he alighted, the motorcyclist alerted the police who then intercepted Ekeanyanwu on his way back in a Peugeot 504 car, he was carrying the head with him in the polythene bag. Opara would later testify in court.
With the motorcycle he took earlier, he was going to the residence of a highly-influential figure named Chief Leonard Unaogu at Eziama, Ikeduru Local Council Area with the head but upon arriving, he was told Mr. Unaogu had gone to Lagos. So Ekeanyanwu had no other option but to return to Owerri with the boy’s head. When it was time to take the headless body of Ikechukwu to the local mortuary, Owerri residents trooped out of their homes, it was a massive procession and they protested all the way. They stayed around and within the hotel premises and waited for the police to confirm that it was indeed a ritual murder. Some other Owerri residents kept watch in front of the medical center, watching everything and also waiting for the confirmation of a ritual murder from either the morgue or the police. But the notice was to eventually come from the Imo State television station. Suspicion was already thick in the air and anyone could smell the tension. It was Owerri people versus some of the most devilish forms of humanity in their midst.
It was in this midst of this tension that the local media station made its miscalculation. They showed the image of Innocent Ekeanyanwu holding the head of his victim. The goal of the media was to assure the people, assuage public fear, ask the public to help identify the boy and show official transparency but what followed next was a catastrophe. All hell broke loose as the enraged people of Owerri went haywire after the image was first broadcast on the 24th of September. All Owerri residents abandoned their businesses and congregated at the town’s central marketplace. It was there they decided on the next plan of action and outlined their strategies to deal with the Otokoto ‘headhunters’. The news spread rapidly and before long, every home in Owerri had either of the news or seen the image of Okoronkwo’s head or his shallow grave. Unemployed and disgruntled young men took over the parks and issued threats to the Owerri millionaires. From the Owerri main market, the riots exploded and spread.
The pattern of destruction was neat. The rampaging crowd first went to the morgue and from there, they rushed to the Otokoto Hotel and burnt it to the ground. From there, they went to the nearby palatial mansion of Chief Vincent Duru and destroyed his property, his expensive cars were wrecked and Duru himself narrowly escaped. From there, the crowd split into attack groups and spread out to other sites of the priviledged elite and unleashed maximum destruction. The well-known Piano Plaza and Stores, alongside another hotel, Chibet Hotel, and various businesses linked to the Otokoto and their associates were utterly destroyed. The Zubairu-led government later confiscated all the property as recommended by the panel which was headed by Justice PC Onumajuru.
From there, they rushed to the palace of the traditional ruler and chairman of the state council of traditional rulers, Eze Onu Egwu Nwoke (later indicted alongside Aneke and Abure by the panel of inquiry) and burnt down his residence and his petrol station, they also destroyed the king’s 15 airconditioners and many of his cars. They were not done yet, from there, the crowd ‘troops’ headed for the residences of former Imo State officials. These administrators were targeted because of what was described as ‘their alleged unwillingness to properly tackle several cases of ritual murder, kidnapping and robbery while in office.’ The angry rioters only agreed to calm down when the military administrator (MILAD) assured them that a full, state-level investigation of the incident was going to be launched.
Following the arrest of Ekeanyanwu, he was remanded in police custody while awaiting trial. But while he was in the police custody, magic happened as usual, he was killed by food poisoning. He killed the boy on Thursday and by Sunday morning, the 22nd of September, he was found dead in police custody and by Monday morning, the news of his death was already spreading throughout Owerri.
But luckily for the interrogators, before he was killed, Ekeanyanwu confessed and mentioned Leonard Unaogu as the brain behind the ritual killing syndicate. He confessed that the ritual killing ring was a well-organized machine that specialized in the harvesting of human body parts and sold them to those interested in using them for rituals and all the usual nonsense they claimed to be using them for. He also said it was Unaogu who ordered him to get a human head.
Some reports indicate that the Otokoto saga (as the ritual killing came to be known) had been in place as far back as 1976. Confessional statements also show that no one was spared at the Otokoto Hotel. Innocent guests and unsuspecting travellers who lodged at the hotel were drugged or attacked in the middle of their sleep and hacked to death after which they were cut into pieces for sale.
Police officers who swooped upon the hotel discovered not only the shallow grave containing that of the little boy but also graves containing other victims with their decomposing and dismembered corpses. No one knows the exact number of bodies exhumed at Otokoto Hotel, with figures varying from 8 to two dozen. Some were buried at inconspicuous locations such as under the flowerbeds. Such evil, such horror!
The man that Ekeanyanwu mentioned before he was poisoned to death, Leonard Unaogu, was known in the society as a business tycoon. Everyone knew him. But that was not all. His junior brother, Laz Unaogu, was a serving minister under the General Abacha regime. The brother of a serving federal minister was implicated in the beheading of a poor boy, it was a classic case of the rich against the oppressed and poor Nigerian majority. Leonard Unaogu was eventually arrested by the police when Duru claimed that police officers had told him that the late Ekeanyanwu had confessed that Unaogu commissioned the killing. He was arrested and made to face the judicial commission of inquiry and eventually held in prison, charged with murder. It seemed the government really wanted the culprits or at least someone punished because the people of Owerri were ready to pounce on anyone should they be released to go free.
But the people of Owerri made their voices heard, they pursued the case till the very end. In fact, the Otokoto case can be seen as the case of the Owerri people versus the Otokoto Seven (as the seven principal suspects were called). The police arrested Unaogu and when he was quizzed, he lied with a straight face that he never knew anyone called Innocent Ekeanyanwu and that he was not even in Owerri when the crime was committed, saying he was in Lagos. He would later say the same thing in court only for the presiding judge to brush it aside as nonsense saying his location when the offence was committed was irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Ekeanyanwu, who murdered the boy, was aged 32 and he worked as a gardener inside the Otokoto Hotel. When he died of food poisoning, the Imo State Police Commissioner released a press statement with the speed of light saying the police knew nothing about it saying there was no foul play. This irresponsible talk from the police chief enraged the Owerri youths, who promptly returned to streets demanding justice for the slain boy. This time around, they were determined more than ever to find their own evidence of ritual murder.
They invaded the homes of ‘suspected dealers in human body parts’ sniffing around for hard evidence which they reportedly found in one of the houses. The churches were not spared too, especially the new-breed evangelical churches, with their main target being the Overcomers Christian Mission along Wetheral where it was rumoured that human skulls were discovered with charms and amulets but the police later said what was found there were various animal skulls, pots full of vulture and other feathers, chalk, red candles, books on mystic subjects, photographs, cowries, objects shaped like human beings and bottles that contained unspecified powders and herbal preparations.
Energized by their success at this discovery, the protesters marched on other churches, a lodge and even an ashram. All the churches popular with the millionaires of Owerri were attacked and destroyed. Only Winners Chapel narrowly escaped as it had been surrounded by battle-ready police officers. By the time the storm calmed on the 27th of September, 26 buildings and several cars had been destroyed. It was a barbarous scene and the savagery mixed with the brutality was clearly evident in the destruction. All the Otokoto suspects were remanded in the Owerri federal prisons during trial.
THE TRIAL AND JUDGEMENT
At first, nine people testified before Justice SO Ekpe, who took over from Justice Gabriel Ojiako, the retired chief judge of Imo State, in the course of the trial. Trial started on the 9th of December, 1996 with Hillary Ngozi Opara as the first prosecution witness. The court also admitted the confessional statement of Innocent Ekeanyanwu, taken by Ambrose Nnah, a police sergeant who recorded the statement in Igbo. He testified in court on the 17th of June, 1998 as a witness saying the statement was recorded in English and read to Ekeanyanwu in Igbo before he thumbprinted it. Counsel to Duru and Unaogu (Tony Mogboh, SAN) objected saying there was nothing to show it was interpreted to him in Igbo after it was recorded in English and that the Igbo version should also be attached to prevent distortion. Their objections were overruled with the judge saying:
“There is no evidence before me that the statement was not made voluntarily. And if a statement is made voluntarily, it is admissible in evidence. The objections are therefore overruled. I rule that the statement is admissible in law and should therefore be admitted as exhibit II.”
A receptionist in the hotel named Margaret Acholonu stated that Duru was actually in the hotel the very day the boy was beheaded. She also said that two spots were dug at the hotel premises and it was from the second one that the body of Okoronkwo was exhumed. She also narrated that on that fateful day, she saw Ekeanyanwu with a black bag and he told her he was going to his village at Eziama.
A police sergeant, Sunday Onwucheka, told the court he was in the office at the Owerri police headquarters on the 20th of September when Ekeanyanwu was brought in with a fresh human head by the divisional police officer (DPO) in charge of the Iho police station in Ikeduru. He said Ekeanyanwu was then taken to the Ifeanyi Anozie, an assistant police commissioner at the Criminal Investigation Department in Owerri. Anozie then directed that Onwucheka, ASP Aguobi, ASP Obasi Chukwu, leader of the team, DSP C Nmezi and other ranks should investigate the case.
According to Onwucheka, before the police took Ekeanyanwu to Otokoto Hotel, the crime scene, he confessed to killing the boy at Mba River in Ikeduru and dumped the body inside the river. The police followed the false trail but found nothing at the Mba River. So at about 7:00 pm on the 20th of September, they returned to Owerri. The following Monday, they continued with their investigation and took him to Otokoto Hotel where the headless body of the boy had already been identified before the police team arrived.
It was discovered that during the course of the investigation that there was a time when Duru came out while standing with Ekeanyanwu and shouted at him:
‘Have you implicated me?!’
Other witnesses included Laeticia Okoronkwo who happened to be the distraught mother of the boy, Sulaiman Idris Ibe, a retired police inspector who was on duty at Eziama when Opara the cyclist came to report, police photographer and Ralph Nwaiwu, the doctor who performed the autopsy on Ikechukwu.
On the 20th of August, 1997, another separate trial began at a senior magistrate’s court in Owerri and docked were nine police officers. They accused of being complicit in the murder of Ekeanyanwu. The White Paper on the Otokoto crisis had recommended their dismissal from the force and trial. They were:
Ifeanyi Anozie, an assistant commissioner of police
Chukwu Obasi, an assistant superintendent of police
The case snailed on and on the 14th of October, 1997, over a year after and after a series of adjournments, absence of lawyers, presiding judge, suspects or even the retirement of judges or their transfer, the case was back in court. That was then a letter dated 16th of May 1997 from the then federal solicitor-general to the Imo State attorney-general ordering that the accused persons be released saying no prima facie case had been established against them. But the ever-vigilant indigenes of Imo got to know of the plan and promptly raised an alarm and embarked on another protest until the state government assured everyone via radio that all suspects would appear in court.
When the seven suspects finally appeared in court, many were pissed off. Leonard Unaogu, the minister’s brother, was transported in a new station wagon from the prison to the court like a royalty. Vincent Duru and other suspects were brought in a Black Maria from prison to the court, with handcuffs. Duru protested the preferential treatment given to Unaogu. Many judges handled the case. First, it was Gabriel Ojiaku, who retired in 1997 handing over to Simeon Ekpe who was almost done with the prosecution until he was elevated to the Court of Appeal and the case was stalled until Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme finally took over on the 28th of April 1999.
In her judgment, given in February 2003, Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme said of Chief Vincent Duru:
‘You are a hardened and unrepentant murderer.’
“This is a typical case when a circumstantial evidence has proved a case of murder with the accuracy surpassing that of mathematics. It has left no one in doubt, of the connection between one accused person and others. It is to me a syndicated arrangement with clear division of labour,” she said.
Of Unaogu, the sixth accused and the minister’s brother, she said:
‘I believe that the sixth accused accused procured and counselled Innocent Ekeanyanwu to bring a human head. You are a highly-sophisticated criminal, a very intelligent man who chose to channel his intelligence the wrong way. You shall be hanged by your neck until you die. May God have mercy on your soul….the sixth accused person, Leonard Unaogu could be described as essential part of the actor who orders for the heads of human beings as if he is ordering for goat heads. It is indeed an unfortunate case, a very intelligent man who chose to channel his intelligence the wrong way. The blood of Ikechukwu Okonkwo must be a very strong and powerful one that cried to God in high heavens.”
“It is indeed condemnable, even God Himself condemned it when he said in Ezekiel chapter 8 verse 20 that “the soul that sinneth shall die.” The accused have demonstrated specie of wickedness surpassing those of Jezebel. The law is very clear on the consequences of these acts and the perpetrators will go in for it.”
But Unaogu was still unrepentant and so confident that he replied the judge saying:
‘If God will permit!’
One of the spectators in the court was so mad at his arrogance that he responded him sharply saying:
‘Which God? God has permitted this! The measure you gave is the measure you have received. ’
All the seven suspects were sentenced to death, they were:
Chief Vincent Duru, the owner of the Otokoto Hotel (he and Unaogu denied knowing each other but Justice Nwosu-Iheme said that was a lie). He appealed the sentence in 2012 but he was unlucky as the sentence was upheld by the Appeal Court.
: 62-year-old was eventually freed after spending 16 years in prison. He was reportedly found innocent and said he was not a manager but an ordinary supervisor at the Otokoto Hotel. He had appealed the sentence and his innocence was upheld by the Court of Appeal, his family said they spent N2.5 million on legal fees alone but were happy to finally have him back. He said: “If I had committed anything worthy of imprisonment, I would have accepted my fate but unfortunately, I did nothing to warrant 16 years of suffering. While in prison, all my friends deserted me and my wife and eight children passed through very difficult times. I don’t know where to start life again. I don’t even know with what to start with again. My mates, who started the race with me, have since overtaken me.”
Almost everyone working at the hotel was arrested after the discovery.
Leonard Unaogu: He would later die some years ago at the Port Harcourt Prisons in what has been described as very mysterious circumstances.
On the day of the judgment, a special detachment of armed policemen were sent to maintain order and control the charged crowd at the Owerri High Court. After the judgment, Unaogu speedily addressed the reporters saying:
“I am dying because I helped the less-privileged and widows in the society.”
While Duru said:
“This is not a thorough judgment.”
Anyanwu on his own said:
“History will see the judgment as it is.”
Relatives of the condemned, such as the two wives of Unaogu burst into tears and wept uncontrollably, the wife of Rufus Anyanwu fainted and was bundled out of the scene by sympathizers while others in the court, especially the Owerri indigenes, were very excited and satisfied with the judgment patting one another on the backs for following the struggle for justice till the very end. At the end of the day, a total of 16 people were convicted over the Otokoto saga.
After judgment, the convicts all moved to the Port Harcourt Prisons in the middle of February, 2003 pending their execution even as their lawyers boasted they were going to appeal the judgment, which they did but the sentence of execution was still upheld. It took seven long years for the Nigerian judicial system to get justice for one boy, very efficient, right? Prior to the case of Okoronkwo, several children had disappeared in Owerri, never to be found till date. Some were kidnapped and their wealthy parents parted with ransom, it was so serious that in May 1995, the daughter of Dr. Okoh, a prominent physician in the city was kidnapped by the Black Scorpions, one of the elite secret clubs which introduced itself to the doctor and demanded for the ransom of $12,000 before the girl could be released. The doctor managed to convince the police to go after the kidnappers and punish the well-oiled criminal gang.
Eventually, the police stormed the hideout of the Black Scorpions and months later, the leader of the cult, Obidiozor Duru (who happens to also be the son of Chief Vincent Duru, owner of the Otokoto Hotel and already arrested as at the time of the Otokoto riots) and Amanze Onuoha, were both arrested and brought before the Imo State Robbery and Firearms Tribunal on the charges of armed robbery, a capital offence. But what happened next was nothing but a mockery of justice. Vincent Duru the father was seen as the very symbol of evil and people often referred to him as Otokoto. Businessman and politician Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu was also mentioned in the saga but he denied ever knowing anyone called Amanze.
Duru and Onuoha were treated like royalties in the prisoner rather than criminals awaiting the death penalty. They got the most liberal visiting priviledges, ate food cooked and brought from their homes and Duru (a Ph.D holder in psychology from California State University) even impregnated one of his female jailers and did a ‘traditional wedding’ with her before he completed his case. But while they were incarcerated, the rate of child kidnappings in Imo State dropped noticeably. But in 1997, six people were executed by a firing squad following a judgement by Justice Emmanuel Nnodim. One of those killed was Obidiozor, the son of Chief Vincent Duru.
In 2002, Justice Lawrence Alinor also sentenced three police officers to death by hanging at the Owerri High Court for their roles in the death of Innocent Ekeanyanwu, the principal witness in the Otokoto case.
The devastating loss of a child can only be felt and understood by the affected parents and that felons make a mess of the Nigerian judicial system, the last hope of the poor man, means we are still not addressing our priority as a nation and that is a pity indeed.
NB: This is July 2015 but it is not clear whether the other convicts have been sentenced to death or not. After the death sentences were handed out, nothing was heard again. UPDATED: Duru was later executed in November 2016.
WHAT OTHERS SAID ABOUT THE OTOKOTO SAGA
Because one of the suspects was a brother to the minister in the Abacha junta, the media had a lot to bash the Abacha government with. They accused his government of colluding with the most evil of entities on earth to rob Nigerians of everything, from their lives to their property. The Abacha government was also connected with the late Charles Okafor aka Eze Ego, King of Money. Linking the Abacha junta with the darkest and most shady of characters was the favourite pastime of the Nigerian press at that time. Abacha made life difficult for them and they did the same too.
‘What brought this sadistic phenomenon (ritual murder) to the fore was the Owerri incident. A peaceful and serene town known more for its neatness and a generally accommodating disposition, the Imo State capital began to acquire a reputation for criminal tendencies in the early 90s. Inhabitants who spoke to TheWeek linked the phenomenal transformation to the activities of ‘419’ men and drug couriers.’ – Taye Ige, ‘For the Love of Money’.
‘We Africans have a long tradition of sacrificing human life to seek power or wealth. But in the past, one always had to kill a kinsman. You could not just kill any stranger. This imposed limits and costs to taking a human life. It is not so easy to kill your relation. But now these people kill anybody to satisfy their greed. We are in trouble.’ – A 55-year-old Presbyterian minister interviewed over the Otokoto saga.
Following the riots, full investigation was launched into the matter and according to the editorial of Post Express Wired (a virtual Nigerian media) in 1997, the first abridged White Paper was so damning that it was immediately witdrawn from public circulations, all copies destroyed and the report completely redrafted. It had implicated the elite and top government functionaries as the brains behind all the corruption in Owerri.
Another analyst believes the main reason why the military administrator killed the first report was to ensure that General Abacha did not have any excuse to over-militarize the state, as he was doing in the nearby Niger Delta with federal forces. But that was not to be because from 1997, the people of Owerri felt the iron grip of the military junta. People were required to stand by their cars for physical inspections at some checkpoints and sometimes the crazy soldiers seized their goods after conducting dehumanizing searches (Nigerians have really suffered and we are still suffering but it is much better now, things are changing fast).
The paranoid military government cast a pall of extreme discipline on the historic city. All Otokoto-related buildings, streets and even plots of land were renamed or dismantled by the authorities. The Otokoto phenomenon was to exist in the minds of the Owerri people as the military authorities did all that was possible to wipe out its horrible memories. Some Igbos protested the change of Otokoto-associated landmarks saying it was an assault on Igbo cultural power. In summary, the people of Owerri once again recognized the power in their unity and the government of the day was forces to sit up, there was more transparency as the administrators were aware of the fact that mob-enforced transparency will lead to more destruction and jungle justice. The spread of rumours such as the discovery of 200 male organs inside a goat’s belly stored in a freezer at Otokoto’s village home heightened tension.
(NB: Four years after the incident in 2000, the Bishop of the Overcomers Christian Mission, Alexander Ezeugo Ekewuba spoke on the matter saying:
‘The human skull was handed over to me by some individuals who felt that I should remove those skulls from their homes after conducting deliverance exercises in their respective houses…I felt that I was enlightening the public by showing them what people do in public….So by so doing, I never knew that I would incur the wrath of so many people who out of misunderstanding thought I was among the people that they were looking for. I am not into any occultic practices. From the homes of Professor Nwoke and others I got these skulls and went on television. Let me say that of all the people that suffered during the Otokoto crisis, I am the only man that has been vindicated.’)
During the administration of Ikedi Ohakim as governor, he tried to revoke the right of occupancy of the police to the confiscated Otokoto property but people were said to have kicked against it. The Duru family was also said to have approached Governor Rochas Okorocha over the confiscated property saying the property belonged to the Otokoto Group and not Duru. Okorocha stylishly brushed the matter aside. Each time the issue of returning the confiscated property to the Otokoto family, Owerri people rise and protests.
Nigeria is still in the grips of ritual killers, almost two decades after the Otokoto saga. The same factors that gave birth to the 1996 Otokoto ritual killings are still in place today: poverty, irrational beliefs in supernatural powers that lead people to believe money can be made from flesh without doing any work, weak/corrupt law enforcement agencies and a super-slow judicial system. The presence of these factors explains why after bloody Otokoto saga, the country still had to face the Okija/Ogwugwu shrine saga in Anambra State and the Soka forest horror of Oyo State. The Nigerian disease is still there – yet to be healed.