By EVELYN USMAN
ABOUT three weeks ago, a mammoth crowd besieged Ago Police Division in Lagos, to have a glimpse of a man who allegedly killed his brother-in-law and tucked his remains inside a plastic container. The incident which occurred Friday, March 5, threw the entire area into panic when the alleged assailant turned out to be a popular boutique owner on Okota road.
The suspect, Okafor Okereke who was recently paraded before newsmen at the Oduduwa, Ikeja office of the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, told a bewildered crowd that he had given his life to Christ after the incident which he claimed was caused by his inability to control his anger.
Okafor who initially stared blankly at everyone who approached him to find out how the gory incident took place , eventually opened up to Crime Alert, describing the deceased as not only a bosom friend but husband to his cousin..
In an emotion-laden voice, he recounted how he sent his late friend to an early grave and his subsequent arrest.
“The late Basil Ogbonnaya was my very good friend. In fact, I knew him long before he married my cousin . He was a trader who sold food stuff, while I am into wares. We were like brothers. In fact people thought we were brothers. But along the line, something happened and it was money. Basil borrowed the sum of N1.5 Million from me last October and promised to pay me back by December same year. I lent him the money because he said he needed it to stock his shop since it was getting close to December period when the cost of food stuff would be high. But when it was getting close to December, I reminded him and he asked me to hold on. Then , I was planning for my marriage in January this year. To my shock, when it was two weeks to my wedding, he told me to exercise patience until March this year before he would pay me. He was even present at my wedding in the village and acted like a brother”
But his claim had earlier been countered by Basil’s widow who insisted that her late husband never borrowed any money from her cousin. Rather, the widow claimed her late husband told her that Okafor was the one owing him. Unfortunately, the dead can not talk and therefore, Basil could not be called upon to debunk Okafor’s claims.
Journey to the grave
The signal of the untold agony that threw Mrs Nnena Ogbonnaya, the widow into mourning started March 3,2011, after she waited endlessly for her husband to return home. She reportedly tried to reach him on his mobile phone but the effort was futile. Apprehension, sets in as Mrs Ogbonnaya who considered her husband’s absence at that ungodly hour to be unusual, called her cousin, Okafor , whom her husband had earlier informed her he was going to visit. Okafor’s response heightened her already tensed mood when he informed that Basil had long left his place or home. A search conducted around yielded no positive result, until the third day before the starling discovery of her husband’s remains confirmed her fears.
Speaking on how he murdered Basil, Okafor said, “ On that day in question , he called to say he was coming to my house. Thinking he was coming with the money, I waited patiently, only for him to say he was not with the money. What annoyed me most was the manner with which he said it. At a point I got angry and we started exchanging banters. He asked me why I was shouting because of common N1. 5 Million. The argument later degenerated into a fight. Honestly at that point, he dashed off to the kitchen, picked the cutlass and charged at me. I then struggled and managed to collect the cutlass from him and in the process, I cut him in the hand. As I made to cut him in the hand again, he dodged and the cutlass landed on his head and he slumped. At that point I was confused and unsure of what to do. In my confused state, I rushed to get the blue rubber and laid it flat on the ground before dragging Basil inside.
At about 2am, I put the drum inside my car and dumped it away from my house”.
Again, this claim was countered by detectives at the Homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) who revealed that investigation showed that the deceased was drugged before he was hacked to death. Detectives also described the act as a premeditated one, wondering how the assailant was able to stuff the dead body into the drum unaided.
However, Okafor turned out to be an inexperienced killer as he forgot to clean the traces that later sold him out. One of such, was the deceased’s handker-chief which was soaked with blood. Another was his failure to properly clean the bed sheet and pillow case which were all stained with blood.
Like one destined for the obvious , the widow’s first port of call was her cousin’s house in Ejigbo from where they combed all the nooks and crannies, without any sight of Basil. Then it was night and a Pastor who was among the search team suggested that the widow should sleep with Okafor, from where they planned to continue the search the following day.
But the rest became history as the widow, reportedly stumbled on possible clues at night; one of which she took to the police the next day leading to the arrest of Mr. Okafor. His Ejigbo apartment was thoroughly searched and the policemen were able to discover more clues to Basil’s disappearance. At the end , he took detectives to where he dumped the body of his in-law and friend.
At the period of filing this, it was visibly clear that Mrs Nnena Ogbonnaya, still finds it difficult to comprehend her cousin’s evil machination that has left her fending for their ten-month old son alone; a responsibility she described as tasking.
At a point, Okafor started showing signs of sobriety as he occasionally bent and shook his head in self pity. “ I feel very sorry for turning my cousin into a widow. I regret my action. I wish the hand of the clock could be turned back so as to undo what I have done. Please help me tell her I have given my life to Christ and all I need is her forgiveness. Honestly, I was annoyed and couldn’t control myself. I do not know whether I would come out of this alive. I f I do not, then let God have His way. But if I do, I promise to keep atoning for my sin with my sister all the rest of my life”