More and more Nigerians are falling victim to harbingers of death disguising as lovers, KUNLE AKINRINADE reports following the case of a company’s chief executive found dead last Sunday in a Lagos service apartment he allegedly lodged in with a side chic.
INCIDENTS of individuals’ death in the process of romance with the opposite sex increased by one early in the week with the demise of billionaire businessman and chief executive officer of Super TV, Michael Usifo Ataga, allegedly after an outing with a side chic.
Ataga, a resident of highbrow Banana Island in Lagos, was said to have been reported missing on Sunday by concerned friends and family members as his whereabouts became unknown.
Everyone, including his wife and children who were resident in Abuja, was said to have become worried when the checks made at Ataga’s office in Victoria Island, Lagos showed that he was nowhere in sight while he could also not be found at his Banana Island residence.
It turned out later that his lifeless body was found in a three-bedroom service apartment in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos with multiple wounds inflicted on his body and several withdrawals made from his bank account supposedly by a mystery woman he had checked into the apartment with.
Investigation conducted by security agents would later reveal that Ataga’s death occurred about two weeks after he met the woman in question and they checked into the said apartment at Lekki Phase 1.
A combined team of the police and DSS operatives from Abuja were said to have unveiled the identity of the owner of the apartment in which Ataga was found dead and it was discovered that she had received payments from the side chic’s bank account into which Ataga himself had previously made a transfer.
Happily, the side chic in question has since been tracked down by security operatives and arrested alongside the owner of the Lekki Phase 1 apartment.
One death too many
Ataga’s case is one in the long list of Nigerians who in recent times have fallen victim to murderous fraudsters disguising as lovers. For instance, when Akin Alupaida invited his girlfriend from her base in Ibadan, Oyo State to his base in Apomu, Isokan Local Government Area, Osun State on June 8, the unnamed lady had no reason to suspect that she was about to be murdered by the man that had professed love to her.
However, the said lady was butchered into pieces by her supposed lover after a romp at an apartment belonging to the latter’s friend. The police said that Akin’s accomplice and owner of the apartment, Kabiru Oyeduntan, barged into the room and assisted his friend in strangling the 20-year-old lady to death and dismembering her for ritual purposes.
Parading Oyeduntan at the Osun Police Command headquarters on June 11, the Commissioner of Police, Wale Olokode, explained that the suspect was arrested based on a tip-off from members of the public. Olokode said the head, wrist, and other parts of the lady’s body were found by detectives inside a box in one of the suspect’s rooms.
In his confession, Oyeduntan said the lady in question was killed for the purpose of using her for money rituals by his identified as Akin (O’clumsy) Alupaida.
He said: “It was my friend that brought the lady to my place from Ibadan. But he already told me that he wanted to do a money ritual. He sought my assistance and promised to give me N50,000. I agreed.”
“While he was having sex with her, I came in and assisted him to hold her two legs, and he strangled her to death.
“Akin was the one who dismembered the lady’s body. He removed the heart, private parts and took them away.”
Eighteen months after she mysteriously disappeared amid preparations for her wedding in December 2019, the remains of Josephine Cynthia Onche, an operative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), were found in a shallow grave in the Obi Local Government Area, Benue State, where her body was dumped after she was killed for rituals by the same man she had announced in a wedding invite as her husband to-be.
The arrest of Josephine’s would-be husband, Christopher, led to the exhumation of her body from a shallow grave in a local government close to Otukpo.
It was said that a commercial motorcyclist who knew about the incident reported to Josephine’s family.
Christopher had allegedly brought in a native doctor from Ogun State to carry out money rituals with Josephine’s body parts.
“The commercial motorcycle rider led security operatives to arrest Christopher, an Igbo man, and he led the police to Ogun State where they arrested a native doctor who allegedly performed a ritual with the woman’s body in Obi Local Government Area of Benue State before returning to Ogun State,” a source reportedly said.
Like Osun and Benue incidents, the murder of the first daughter of former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Khadijat Olubiyo, made headlines in 2018.
Khadijat, a final year student of Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba Akoko (AAUA) was allegedly strangled to death by her boyfriend, Seidu Adeyemi, who was said to have buried her remains in a shallow grave in his room in Okearo area of Akure, the state capital, covered it with the rug and slept on the grave for five days.
In 2019, one Abosede Adeyemi Iyanda was gruesomely murdered by her former boyfriend, Segun Olaniyi, who dismembered her and used her body parts for money-making rituals.
As the story goes, Olaniyi, 42, was Abosede’s ex-lover, who promised to help her with some money but instead hatched a plan to use her for money rituals.
Olaniyi called one Akanbi Babalola and Ayo Adeleye on the phone to come and do the slaughtering of the woman who was formerly his girlfriend but now married to another man when she visited him in his offshore office.
While in his office, Olaniyi told Adeleye to go and buy food for the woman, who they said felt very tired after walking a long distance to get there. Segun then put in the food a drug that would make her feel weak and sleepy.
Olaniyi later told her to go to the stream beside his office and wash her hair while she was completely naked. He asked Adeleye and Akanbi to lead her there.
But while Abosede was washing her hair, Adeleye pushed her head into the river, brought out a pocket knife and killed her. Both of them then pulled her body out from the river and dismembered it, separating the flesh from the bones as instructed by Olaniyi.
They later cut the flesh into pieces and sold them to some herbalists, alfas and a pastor who needed them for money rituals. Some of them also allegedly roasted the meat and ate it, washing it down with hot drinks.
Police said that Olaniyi was tracked and arrested, and his arrest led to the recovery of Abosede’s body parts from different Ogun villages where he buried or sold her mutilated remains.
Other suspects arrested in connection with Abosede’s murder include Adeifa Sogbeyinde (37), Rasaq Rasaq Arabs (27), Sunday Akinyemi (41), Adewole Olwafemi aka Pastor (38), Mustapha Ajibola aka Alfa (31), Mustapha Iliya (30), Shilola Amodu aka Alfa (38), Jamiu Abass (25), Smooth Kazeem aka Alfa (37) and Adesola Oduyemi (56).
Confessing, Olaniyi said: “She called me on the phone saying that she was coming to see me. I asked her the reason for her visit and she said she wanted financial assistance to boost her business.
“I called Akanbi, who is my helping hand, and told him to come around because someone would be visiting us. Already, we had work at hand, so Akanbi suggested that we use her for the work.
“We killed her beside my house. I took the head, two hands and part of the meat. I sold the head to Africa for N40,000. I sold one of the hands to an orthodox doctor named Murideen for N15,000 and the other hand to Tonight for N15,000. I sold the flesh to one Alfa named Sunday Akinyemi (N10,000), Rasaq (N5,000) and Mustafa (N5,000).
“It was Ajibola that introduced Mustapha Iliya to me. I used part of the flesh to do powdered medicine which if taken with a hot drink would draw customers.
“At times, we kill the husbands of some of our customers to turn them into widows so that they would join us in bringing victims to be slaughtered.”
His confession led the IRT detectives to Abeokuta and different Ogun villages like Ifo, Itori, Papalanto and Adigbe, where eleven suspects were arrested and eight of them confessed to the kidnapping, killing and selling of the body parts of the victim.
Among the items recovered by IRT operatives were decomposed human breasts, burnt human flesh mixed with liquid substance in a bottle and calabash, one complete human foot, pieces of dry human skull, a Laura SUV with registration number KTU801FP, one Bajaj Boxer motorcycle with Registration number JGB019VC, one unregistered Toyota Corolla and one Toyota Matrix with Registration number AKD703FU.
Other recent cases
It will be recalled that in June 2020, a 39-year-old man, Chris Ndukwe, committed suicide in Lagos after killing his 25-year-old girlfriend, Olamide Alli.
Police said that Ndukwe and Alli were found dead at the former’s residence at Road 5, House 16A, Victory Point Estate, Ilasan, Lagos, after a tip-off to officers of Ilasan Police Station.
A statement issued by the then police spokesman, Bala Elkana, said: “The woman was found lying in a pool of blood, with deep cuts on her head, while the man’s mouth was foaming with whitish substance.
“It was alleged that the man stabbed the woman to death with a kitchen knife and thereafter drank some poisonous substances suspected to be insecticides.
“Two blood-stained kitchen knives, two empty bottles of the poisonous substances, three empty cans of Red Bull energy drink and a plier were recovered from the scene.”
Elkana added that family members of the deceased lovers revealed that they were not married but had a relationship for over seven years, adding that they had two boys, aged seven and three.
He said: “Their relationship is described as complicated, as the couples were on and off over the years. While the man lives at Victory Point Estate Ibadan, the woman lives at Ogba (Lagos).
“The woman was said to have visited the man alongside her 22-year-old sister a night before the incident, on his invitation.
He said that Alli’s sister was the first to have noticed that they were both dead and raised the alarm.
Elkana added: “In her (Alli’s sister) statement, she was woken up by a loud music from the room where the corpses were found, as herself and the kids slept in a different room.”
On July 21, 2012, a postgraduate student of Nasarawa State University, Cynthia Osokogu, then 25 years old, was lured from Abuja to Lagos by Okwumo Nwabufo, who she had met and befriended on Facebook.
Nwabufo had paid for the deceased’s flight ticket from Abuja and lodged her in Room C1 at Cosmilla Hotel, Lake View Estate, Festac Town, Lagos, where he later connived with one Olisaeloka Ezike, and murdered the young lady.
The duo drugged Cynthia by putting Rohypnol in her drink after which they tied her hands and legs and also gagged her mouth with a handkerchief and part of her hair weave on.
Cynthia’s killers thereafter stole her two Blackberry mobile phones, jewellery, sex toy vibrator, passport and a pair of shoes.
In December 2019, a 23-year old man, Adeeko Owolabi, reportedly connived with a 42-year-old self-acclaimed pastor of a white garment church, Segun Philip, to murder his girlfriend and final year Sociology student at the Lagos State University, Favour Daley-Oladele.
According to the spokesman of Ogun State Police Command, Owolabi, who was arrested in Ikoyi-Ile area of Osun State, confessed that he used his girlfriend to prepare a ritual meal for himself and his own mother who he claimed had been broke.
According to Oyeyemi, “the deceased was reported to have left home to an unknown destination since the 8th of December, 2019 and had not been seen since then; hence, she was reported missing by her parents at Mowe Police Station.
“Upon the report, the DPO Mowe Division, SP Marvis Jayeola, detailed his crack detectives to unravel the mystery behind the sudden disappearance of the 22-year-old woman.
“The detectives went into full-scale technical and forensic investigation of the case and their efforts paid off when the movement of the deceased was traced to a white garment church in far away Ikoyi-Ile in Osun State, being pastored by one Segun Philip.
“On getting to the church, the self-acclaimed pastor was promptly arrested, but he was quick to inform the detectives that the girl was brought to him by her boyfriend, Adeeko Owolabi, who was still within the vicinity of the church.
Culprits sentenced to death
A number of culprits have been prosecuted and handed death sentences in recent times with bereaved family members of their victims commending the verdicts.
In March 2019, an Ondo State High Court sentenced Seidu Adeyemi to death by hanging for killing Khadijat Oluboyo, the daughter of a former Ondo State Deputy Governor, Lasisi Oluboyo.
The presiding judge, Samuel Bola, noted that the prosecutor and the state government’s counsel had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Adeyemi committed the offence. The judge held that by criminal law, the convict had committed a capital offence and should die by hanging.
Like Adeyemi, a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere in March 2017 convicted Okwumo Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike who were charged with the murder of Cynthia Osokogu.
The trial judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, ordered that Nwabufo and Ezike should be hung by the neck until they were dead.
Reacting to the conviction of his daughter’s killers, Ondo state former deputy governor, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, said the death sentence by hanging passed on the killer by the court had rekindled his hope and that of his family members in the nation’s judiciary.
“This judgment will serve as a deterrent to others. You cannot kill somebody and just go away free like that. The boy thought he would go away with the murder and that was the reason he did everything to cover his track.
“This will teach our ladies a lesson that whenever they are going out, they should let people know. It was because we knew on time the whereabouts of Khadijat that we were able to get her killer,” Oluboyo said.
Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers FIDA, Ondo State chapter, Bola Ogundadegbe, also noted that the judgment would serve as a deterrent to others, urging speedy execution of the death sentence by the state government.
How to curb the trend-Expert
A Lagos-based clinical psychologist, Ms Lamide Adejumo, described the rising cases of ritual killings as ‘worrisome, noting that there was need for circumspection in choosing partners and relationships to curb the trend.
“People must exhibit tact and thoughtfulness when going out with people as lovers. There is nothing like love is blind. You must be very vigilant and carry out diligent observation of your partners for salient countenances such as his or her thoughts on getting rich, success and the utterances of his or her circle of friends. This would enable one to gauge the kind of influence one’s partner has and what he or she could do when there is disagreement or when faced with a situation in future. Most of the victims of gruesome killings in the hands of their lovers just threw themselves into relationships without any caution leading to their killing by people they thought truly loved them.”
She also advocated mindset orientation of young men and women, as well as couples with a view to encouraging hard work instead of looking for fast money through rituals.
“I am also suggesting a kind of mindset orientation for our young men whose lust for overnight success and financial breakthrough are lured into ritual killings. This could be done through communal engagements and public service awareness on consequences of such actions as well as religious orientation in churches and mosques.”
In his opinion, a security expert, Austen Onwordi said “it is always reasonable to disclose where you are going when visiting anyone and to also let your host(s) know that your family members are aware of your visit. This can go a long way in disabusing evil motive from the minds of potential killer lovers.”