…Syndicate’s attempt to kill arrested member in Police net
…Why deceased’s shout for help was not heard
…How another victim narrowly escaped
…Don’t be too anxious to be rich, Prime suspect advises youths
By Evelyn Usman
The name Chief Ignatius Odunukwe, was not one that rang a bell to Nigerians except to those who had direct dealings with him, or those who benefited from his philanthropic gestures.
This was because despite being a thriving entrepreneur, he was also unassuming and carried himself with an air of humility and willingness to help those who came to him for assistance.
But like everything that has an end, life was snuffed out of him on December 1, 2019 for the wrong reasons. On that fateful day, he was said to have been with some of his friends at a gathering in Ikoyi area of Lagos , when he got a call on his mobile telephone. He informed his friends that he was going to meet someone within the area but did not disclose the exact reason for the meeting, apparently trying to be security conscious. Unknown to him that it was a call of death.
Tension set in same day, at his Ikoyi abode, as several calls to his mobile telephone received no response. At a point, it went dead. Some of his friends, including his lawyer, were contacted but none could provide a soothing response to his apprehensive family. Initially, he was assumed to have been kidnapped but no call was received by members of his family to authenticate the claim.
Following a petition at the office of the Assistant-Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone 2 command, Onikan, the Tactical Commander of the Ikorodu Office of the Zonal Intervention Squad, ZIS of the Operation Puff Adder, SP Uba Adams was directed to go after the abductors.
Unfortunately, by the time his whereabouts were ascertained a month and two weeks later, it was too late to save him, as he was not only found dead but parts of his decomposing body had assumed a skeletal transformation.
Crime Guard gathered that during investigation to ascertain who his assailants were, the deceased’s 4-Runner SUV was tracked to a building within Artican Beach Resort, in Ajah area of Lagos and one Israel Obiagaremu, 35 , was arrested.
His arrest, marked the starting point of unravelling the murder case. During interrogation, the suspect , an Uber operator, disclosed that one Arinze Uzor Igwe, 26, kept the car in his care.
He said, “Arinze only brought the car to my house on December 1, 2019, he said it was his master’s who travelled out of the country. He promised to come and pick it the next day. It was after my arrest that I discovered that the owner of the car was murdered. I have no hand in the murder”.
Hotel staff’s involvement
His confessional statement led to the arrest of Arinze, a former staff of the hotel where the deceased was said to have been seen last. Upon interrogation, it was discovered that the late Odunukwe was killed right inside one of the hotel’s room. Arinze mentioned Daniel Ibeaji and Solomon Cletus as brains behind the killing.
He said, “I knew Daniel Bob Ibeaji, when I was working in the hotel. He was a regular customer to the hotel and usually gave me tips for my services, whenever he was leaving.
On December 1, 2019, one Solomon Cletus was with him in the room. He (Bob) called me on the phone and informed me that a man who came to visit them died in the hotel room. He begged me to help them evacuate the man from the hotel without anyone’s knowledge. I told them to wait until it was dark. I led them through the back door of the hotel because I knew the whole terrain, having worked there. They dropped the body in a waiting vehicle parked at the exit of the hotel, leading from its laundry. Since I did not see blood on the floor, I concluded the man could have died accidentally. Bob promised to give me N2 million loan after the evacuation”.
Arinze and Cletus, were discovered to have taken Odunukwe’s lifeless body to the canal in Ogunbo forest, Ajah, where they dumped it inside a shallow grave which was covered with woods.
His confessional statement further led to the arrest of 42-year-old Daniel Bob Ibeaji , discovered to be the prime suspect. However, all through his stay with the police, Bob as he is popularly called, denied having a hand in Odunukwe’s death.
He was reported to have admitted meeting with the suspect that fateful day but maintained that he concluded the business deal with him and saw him drive off in his car. But detectives were not convinced with his claim, as they kept him in their custody, until a head-way was made in faraway Abuja.
Crime Guard gathered that a fourth member of the gang, Solomon Cletus, was arrested in Abuja over a different offence. But detectives in Abuja were said to have noticed several calls to the suspect’s mobile line. When one of them picked, pretending to be Cletus, the caller at the other end reportedly threatened to eliminate him, if he opened up on what he knew about Odunukwe’s death. Several of such calls, accompanied by texts messages were said to have been received on the suspect’s phone.
The Divisional Police Officer-in-charge of the Division , (names withheld) was said to have taken keen interest on the suspect, in order to establish more facts about him. The DPO as learned, stopped Cletus from eating any food brought to him, except the one he (DPO) brought himself, so as to prevent the strange callers from carrying out their threats of death.
In the long run, Cletus, was discovered to be a member of the syndicate that murdered Odunukwe! He was immediately brought to the ZIS detectives in Lagos, where he opened up on his involvement. He was said to have mentioned Bob, who had denied his involvement all along.
In this interview with Crime Guard, Cletus said, “I have known Bob for some time. He discussed this deal with me two weeks before its execution and he promised to pay me N2 million at the end but I do not know how much was involved. I needed the money to establish a business this January and intended to use out of it to travel to the East to see my parents during Christmas.
Struggle with death
“The game plan was that Arinze and I should rush inside immediately we hear Bob shout at the man. When we did, I heard the Chief shouting for help, with fear written on his face.
“But nobody heard him because there was a party going on downstairs and the loud music overshadowed his voice. I dropped the bag I was with on the floor, pretending it contained money.
“As he bent to check what was inside, Bob hit him with a cutlass at the back of his head. He was a strong man because even with the impact, he kept struggling with Bob. I hit him at that same spot the cutlass landed on him yet, he kept struggling and shouting .
“Then Bob injected him. Immediately, he became calm and we dragged him to the toilet, from where he was bagged and taken out of the hotel, with the help of Arinze who said he knew an exit through the back door”.
By the time detectives brought Cletus face-to-face with Bob, the circumstances surrounding Odunukwe’s murder were finally unraveled! He was discovered to have been murdered over his N900 million property in Abuja, which he advertised for sale.
Bob, as gathered, had approached the deceased three months earlier, in Abuja, to inquire about the property advertised. He was said to have told the deceased that he wanted to use it for a hospital, as he claimed to be a Medical doctor. Unknown to the businessman, his moves were being monitored by Bob.
In an interview with Crime Guard, he revealed that he procured Diaxopan injection from a pharmaceutical store , after identifying himself as a Medical doctor.
Narrating how the Philanthropist died, Bob, said, “I met him in Abuja in September, 2019 . I met him again in Lagos after which he visited me on December 1, 2020 and we agreed on the property business worth N900 million. I invited him to my hotel room. Before then, I had arranged with Arinze and Solomon. When he came to my place, I feigned as if I was going to pay him then I shouted at him, my two accomplices ran in to subdue him. While he was struggling. Solomon hit him with an axe”…
But Solomon interjected, insisting that it was Bob that hit the deceased with the axe.
Continuing, Bob, said,
“While he was still struggling, I injected him with diaxopan. I gave him two doses of 2.5m, through intramuscular and he relaxed. But he died as a result of the impact of the axe, not because of the injection. Thereafter, his body was packaged in a carton and brought here ( pointing to the canal where late Odunukwe’s body was recovered) by Solomon, Arinze and one other driver.
“I killed him because I wanted to take his property worth 900 million naira. He was killed after he had signed the documents to the property. I collected them, as I intended to sell the property later. Lust for money made me kill Chief.
“I regret my action”, he said, while covering his nose to avoid inhaling the stench from the decomposing body of late Odunukwe, at the canal where it was recovered.
Continuing, he advised, “ I advise youths not to be too anxious to get rich”.
During investigation, he was discovered to have allegedly been involved in other similar cases. Two of them occurred in Abuja. Like late Odunukwe, one of his victims, a Commissioner in Bayelsa State, identified simply as Honourable Depologa, was said to have been murdered and his remains found along Abuja road, one week after his encounter with Bob, at Ibeto hotel, on a business deal bothering on the sale of a block of flat at Durumi area, for N220 million.
The second victim , Jude Efule, a property Developer, however, escaped death by the whiskers as his shout for help, from the room he was locked in, attracted residents who raised the alarm.
In Efule’s case, he was said to have been tricked to the undisclosed location on the pretence of payment for a property. But on arrival, he was reportedly locked inside the room and forced to sign a cheque of N9 million. Two members of the syndicate were said to have gone to withdraw the amount from the bank , leaving one of their members to watch over the victim. However, on reaching the bank, one of them was said to have called on the attention of the guard, who left Efule in the room, which he mistakenly left unlocked.
While they were away, Ofule was said to have locked the door from behind and shouted for help. While on it, a member of the syndicate reportedly arrived but could not gain access into the room.
He was said to have broken into it through the roof of another room but refrained himself from shooting the victim because they were yet to withdraw the N9 million. Residents, reportedly besieged the building until the arrival of policemen.
Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone 2, AIG Ahmed Iliyasu, who led journalists to the recovery site, revealed that a medical identity card, an axe , the remains of the victim in a bag , three Ak 47 riffles , a pump-action gun , the deceased’s Ford SUV and house documents were recovered from the suspects.