…How CCTV exposed murder of London-based Nigerian returnee, hotel manager
By Evelyn Usman
The dream of Mrs Olushola Olusoga , had been to return to her home country, Nigeria, from England, the United Kingdom, where she had lived for 35 years.
Had the mother of four known that her decision would turn out to be her greatest undoing, she would have had a rethink. This is because as you read this piece, the 56-year-old Chief Executive Officer of Etashol Hotel and Suites, located in Ojodu Berger area of Lagos, is lying six feet below the earth, as life was snuffed out of her by her employees on January 24, 2018.
Plans to relocate
Crime Guard learned that Olusoga returned to Nigeria in December 2017. Before then, she had begun the construction of a two storey building hotel, comprising 20 rooms.
Along the line, she reportedly had a face-off with one of those constructing the hotel , over alleged misappropriation of funds, a situation that brought the police in.
Eventually, the hotel was completed and opened for patronage last year March, with one of the wings serving as Olushoga’s suite.
She was said to have moved into her suite after declining to live in her Allen Avenue, Ikeja , house, following complaint of theft.
Activities at the hotel went on as usual on January 23, 2019, with the club on the ground floor filled to its capacity and some of the staff getting tips on one or more bottles of beer from customers.
At a point, one of the bar attendants approached the Business Manager, Tunji Omikunle , requesting for his phone to make a call. When he was asked why he needed the phone, the attendant , said he had exhausted his airtime and would want to call a friend.
The Manager, hesitated before releasing his phone, unknown to him that the hesitation was a premonition of a bizarre incident that would involve him.
At about 7am next day, the lifeless bodies of the hotelier, Olushoga and the hotel Manager, Omikunle, were discovered in their respective rooms, by the former’s 12-year-old son who had gone to wake the manager up, to prepare him for school.
Vanguard gathered that the lad (name withheld) who was born in England, came to join his mother in Nigeria last December, having been complaining about her absence back in England.
Everyone concluded it was a case of robbery. But for the Close Circuit Television,CCTV mounted in the hotel , perhaps, investigation into the gruesome act by the Police, would have turned out to be an exercise in futility.
To the chagrin of all, perpetrators of the dastardly act as revealed in the CCTV footage, were staff and former staff of the hotel. They were: Vincent Ehizogie, Henry Lolo, Okechi Ezi, Dubai and Dangote.
From the CCTV footage, Crime Guard discovered that the all staff except the perpetrators were deep in sleep when the incident occurred. It was also discovered that the mobile phone earlier collected from the hotel manager, was a bait to get his number.
Further observation showed that the perpetrators slept in the club on the ground floor. At the wee hours of the morning, one of them was seen making a call to the hotel manager, Omikunle, who slept at the reception on the first floor. He ( Omikunle) reluctantly picked the call but spoke incoherently, in a restless state.
How Omikunle was murdered
Thereafter Ehizogie, popularly called Ehi, was seen beckoning on others to go upstairs, where they met the manager sleeping. They blindfolded him. While one of them held Omikunle’s neck, others were hitting his ribs with their elbows. Although, he attempted to put up some struggles but was overpowered. The hitting continued until he was motionless. Thereafter, they tied his hands and legs and faced him down. They searched his pockets and the cabin, looking for what was later discovered to be keys to Oluhoga’s suite.
One of them, beckoned on the rest to leave the reception, from where they proceeded to Olusoga’s suite. They forced the door open, to meet a defenseless and frightened woman. With eyes popped out of her sockets and a trembling lips, she begged the invaders to take whatever they could lay their hands on but spare her life.
Rather than heed the passionate plea, three of them held her and bound her legs and feet, while others ransacked the room. In the process, she became motionless, with her assailants leaving the room with their loot.
Immediately after the operation, one of the community private guards who spoke with Crime Guard on the condition of anonymity, said, “ we saw three staff of the hotel at about 3am. They told us that the manager directed them to go and get a cab for one of their customers. But by the time they got the cab and were driving out, we noticed that they had a gas cylinder with them. We did not allow them to move out. Rather, we told them to go and call the manager because we suspected they were up to something. They left and did not come back.
“By 7am , we saw the school bus that usually comes to pick mummy’s( Olusoga) son to school. We stopped the bus and told the little boy to go and call the manager or his mother.
“By the time he came back, he started shouting that he needed help. We followed him to the hotel and found the manager and mummy dead. That prompted us to call in the Police”.
How I found mummy’s corpse
The 12-year-old boy that raised the alarm over the bizarre incident explained that having waited for the manager to prepare his food for school that fateful day, he went to his mummy’s room, only to find her foaming from the mouth. Oblivious of what the situation was, he shook his mother , telling her to wake up and brush her mouth, unknown to him that she was dead.
He further stated that he went to the manager’s place to know if his food was ready , only to find him bleeding from his mouth and nose. In fear, he went inside until the school bus came before he called for help.
Killing was not part of the plan- suspect
Immediately after the incident, the suspects fled. But one of them, Ehizogie, was arrested in Port Harcourt. Crime Guard gathered that three others were later arrested in Ogun but they latter denied culpability.
Ehijogie, in his confessional statement at the Homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID said the plan was never to kill any of them but to collect foreign currency from the London returnee.
He said, “ The plan was never to kill anyone. Myself, Polo and Ezi were staff of the Hotel while Dubai and Dangote were contract staff. The plan was to rob our boss who just returned from London, of her foreign currency because of her miserly nature.
“Since we were just a few that hatched the plan, we agreed that Henry Polo, one of the cooks, should prepare noodles for everyone. He added a sleeping drug to those of other staff that were not part of the conspiracy, but served ours without it.
“The drug put everyone to sleep, except the Manager, who was already asleep before he could be served with the poisoned meal. When we went to the late manager’s room to take the key to the CEO’s bedroom, he woke up and in the process, began to struggle with us. In the process, he was strangled to death.
“However, when we searched his pocket, the key was not there. So, we went upstairs and forced madam’s door open, tied her legs and hands and searched her luggage for cash and jewelleries. But we only found N50,000, pieces of jewellery and other personal effects. By the time we were through, she was already dead.
“After the operation, we could not leave with the things we collected because of the community guards. We left them at our security post in the hotel and left through other routes”.
Ehizojie, was arraigned at the Yaba Magistrate court, Lagos, where he was remanded in prison custody, pending the report from the Director of Public Prosecution.
Call for discreet investigation
Late Olusoga has been buried according to Islamic rites but her family is appealing to the Police to ensure that thorough investigation is done to ascertain whether it was a case of robbery turned sour or assassination, as suspected.
Spokesman for the family, Engr. (Mayor) Olugbemi Olusoga, said , “ Words can not explain the devastating effect of my younger sister’s death on the family. She was a very hardworking woman and the same time generous. One then wonders why any one would send her to an early grave like that.
“We appeal to the Police to put in more effort at arresting other perpetrators because we suspect someone could be behind this. If they (Police) get others, they may open up and by so doing , let the world know the real reason behind her death. All we are clamouring for, is justice “, he said.