Saturday, December 31, 2011

mauricearchibongtravels: Fear of kidnappers fuel joblessness across Nigeria's south-east

mauricearchibongtravels: Fear of kidnappers fuel joblessness across Nigeria's south-east

Fear of kidnappers fuels joblessness across Nigeria's south-east

Kidnappers hold Anambra, entire South-east to ransom

‘How many of the big men from the South-east are going home now? All of them have fled home. So, all the jobs they would have helped to create are gone. It’s a serious situation. In fact, a critical one. It is a very sad situation’

It is popularly believed that a maiden’s wedding day is among the happiest moments in any woman’s life. Interestingly, in Nigeria; apart from the Christian or Muslim nuptial as well as the Marriage Registry formalities, there is also the NLC (Native, Law and Custom) ceremonies; which compel countless grooms to travel to the fiancee’s hometown for traditional wedding rituals.
Nigeria's Police chief, Hafiz Ringim.

In some cases, the suitor has to make more than one trip to his prospective wife’s village before the NLC observances were complete. Normally, going to to the girl’s homestead enabled her future spouse and his accompanying relatives to really understand her background. In the same vein, the sojourn afforded the husband-to-be and his parents the opportunity to look into their potential in-laws’ background and history.
During such trips, relevant investigations were made to ensure that no incidents of theft, insanity or some other blemish trailed the prospective spouse’s family. This visit also helped to drive home the point to every member of the maiden’s original community that she was spinster no more.
This Town Crier statue at Adazi-Nnukwu Town Hall could well be taken as a warning of the scourge of kidnapping ravaging Anambra State settlements. PHOTO: MAURICE ARCHIBONG

Painfully, however, owing to the fear of kidnappers; many Igbo families are now forced to conduct Iku-aka n’uzo or Igba-nkwu (Introduction et cetera) outside their villages. Those that have had to take such vital observances to Lagos, Calabar and Abuja, among other settlements; were driven by other people’s bitter experiences.
The story is told of an 85-year-old grandma of Anambra origin, who was kidnapped a few days to the date of the traditional wedding of one of her grand-daughters. The bride-to-be happened to be resident in the US, and; apparently, the abductors’ calculation was that the about-to-wed couple would cough out a tidy ransom to secure the release of the grandma.
But, the senior citizen; had, probably due to shock, given up the ghost after being seized by her captors. Consequently, the kidnappers; who had dumped the woman’s body somewhere and vanished without trace, stopped pestering the deceased’s relatives over where to drop the ransom.
Although these rogue elements got no money, they had put a bitter tinge on what was supposed to be someone’s Happy Day. The traditional wedding in the bride’s village was called off because the grand-daughter, in the course of being informed of her grandma’s abduction; had been advised to cancel all plans of coming home to avoid being picked up herself.
There is also the case of another Anambra-born lady (names withheld), who is married to a white national of one of the EU (European Union) countries. Now an EU citizen by marriage, the Nigerian-born woman was her mother’s only daughter. Sadly, despite the decades-long bond of affection between mother and daughter until the former’s transition; the Europe-based lady was advised against coming home to attend her mother’s funeral.
The reason: she would be targetted by kidnappers, thus compounding the family’s grief; if she were abducted. That, in a nutshell; is how this lady was denied the opportunity of paying her departed mum, the proverbial last respects. Truly, few things could be more heart-rending.
Yes, kidnappers and their despicable occupation have taken a huge toll on all states in Nigeria’s South-east geo-political zone; but, Anambra has been the worst-hit over the last 18 months or so. After several weeks scouring numerous Anambra settlements, including Adazi-Nnukwu, Awka, Ihembosi, Nnewi and Onitsha et cetera; it would seem that across this state, the fear of kidnappers is the beginning of wisdom.

Across Adazi-Nnukwu, fear of kidnappers in the air
Last August 27 was this year’s Iwa ji Day in the Anambra State town of Adazi-Nnukwu. However, the observance was abnormally low-key because most people stayed away. Aside the grieving locals that shunned the venue, indigenes based elsewhere also did not turn up. Fear, forced virtually everyone to be laissez faire.
“We live in fear, here. So, the event was only symbolic because the man that was supposed to cut the yam; in the absence of of the king, had been kidnapped”. This was the way one senior citizen in this Anambra town encapsulated the plight of Adazi-Nnukwu inhabitants.
Adazi-Nnukwu Development Union Hall.

The last king of Adazi-Nnukwu, Chief Michael Obidiume Orjiakor III (Adama), died more than two years ago; and, going by local tradition; the clan head of Nnukwu, Chief L. C. Oragwu; should sit-in for the local monarch during rites of passage like cutting the new yam heralding the harvest season. However, this year’s observance of the festivities was peculiar, it was a mere symbolic ritual, which featured neither singing nor dancing because even the clan head, supposed to hold fort in the absence of the town’s monarch; had been missing for months.

Ihembosi: Town’s king kidnapped since May 25 still missing
At Ihembosi, a town within Ekwusigo Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra, the paramount ruler (Igwe Ihembosi) was kidnapped seven months ago. To date, none is sure of the man’s fate or whereabouts. mauricearchibongtravels gathered that the kidnappers had initially demanded N20million as ransom, after snatching the igwe.
At that time, Chief Ebuka Onunkwo, President General of Ihembosi Progress Assembly (IPA) was on a trip outside the African continent and could not be reached by phone. In any case, after striking a deal with the kidnappers, some money was to be handed over to them for the king’s freedom. Although none would confirm this information, mauricearchibongtravels gathered; through painstaking investigation, that at the point, where money was going to change hands, the transaction went awry.
Igwe Ihembosi, HRH Jerry Okorie, kidnapped seven months ago.

Security operatives, who were monitoring the situation closely succeeded in nabbing at least one suspect. Curiously, however, more than six months since his arrest; this bird would not squeal.
Is a king like some needle in a haystack? Could a town’s crowned head simply disappear without trace? These are just a few of many questions rankling in the minds of inhabitants of various towns in Anambra State.

Nnewi: Kidnappers hold Nigeria’s Little Japan hostage
Welcome to Nnewi, home of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ironically, to the kidnappers that hold Nnewi hostage, it does not matter that this settlement is hometown of a generalissimo. Then Colonel Ojukwu, later decorated Eze Gburu-gburu, was leader of the secessionist Biafran Republic; but, these mean nothing to devil-daring kidnappers, who play warlords across Nnewi abducting law-abiding citizens at will almost without any trammels.
Nnewi North Council Secretariat.

Nnewi is also home of, arguably, Nigeria’s most important manufacturing hub. In this town, welders and other artisans can easily fabricate virtually any machinery spare-part in a matter of hours. This explains the presence of over 20 major banks and other financial institutions in Ojukwu’s town.
Chief Sam Okey Nwosu, business magnate and political commentator, helped to put this in perspective during a chat with mauricearchibongtravels in 2004. Hear him: “In Nnewi, there are industries that fabricate all sorts of auto spare-parts; engine components, brake-pads, bolts, nuts and what have you. The products of some of these companies even out-class imported ones.
“For example, Cutix and Joalis wires are generally preferred to imported ones because users regard these products as being among the best in the world. Another worthy example is Innoson Group, which produces motorbikes with more than 40 per cent Nigerian content. There are countless other manufacturers across Nnewi, which is why people call this town Little Japan”.
Chief Nwosu had gone on to reason that, “With this endowment, Anambra should have been industrialized long ago”. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. So, what is the drawback? Chief Nwosu had those days primarily fingered “epileptic power supply”. These days, Nnewi-based manufacturers do not only have Nigeria’s lingering electricity crisis to contend with: kidnappers now run rings around them, compounding their woes.
Kidnappers’ nefarious activities threaten to send the more resilient and patriotic manufacturers that have persevered, against all odds, packing up and leaving town. At some point, an average of 15 people were kidnapped on daily basis, according to reports. By January, 2011; the spate of kidnappings in Nnewi was so alarming that it threatened the very soul of this town. To pre-empt a collapse of Nnewi’s economy due to exodus of entrepreneurs from this settlement; a coalition of concerned citizens, including sundry professionals and traders et cetera, cried out to President Goodluck Jonathan as well as the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff, among others, to save them.
In fact, the crime wave even provoked invocation of spiritual powers to evict undesirable elements from the settlement. In deed, Nnewi’s monarch, Igwe Kenneth N. Orizu, once convened an ecumenical service at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, where Bishops Odili Okeke and G.I.N Okpala of the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Nnewi respectively; led supplications to God for divine intervention.
However, it would seem that the kidnappers chose to stay put; for, eight months down the road; many frightened inhabitants, who spoke to mauricearchibongtravels in Nnewi claimed their situation is immutatus (unchanged) and therefore still intolerable. As a result, another round of letters were again wired to Mr. President and others requesting the deployment of soldiers to watch over Nnewi.
The intolerable rate of kidnappings prompted a rally last August, during which leaders of the famous Nkwo-Edo Auto Spare Parts Market as well as Nzuko-Ora (the Elders Council in Nnewi), and the town’s union leaders et cetera practically issued the proverbial red-card to people without visible means of livelihood to leave town.
On Wednesday, August 10, 2010; virtually the whole of Nnewi converged on the entrance of Nkwo Nnewi Market, the town’s principal emporium aka Main Market as early as 7am. The rally was convoked to demonstrate the town’s inhabitants’ disgust and displeasure over the alarming frequency of kidnappings.
The protest followed another open letter, addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan, dated August 9, 2011. Titled, “A call to save our soul as kidnappers, armed robbers over-run Nnewi”; the memo issued by Concerned Nnewi Stakeholders Forum (CNSF) had requested, among others; “That, the rescue of those still held by kidnappers be made a national project by deploying soldiers to Nnewi for the rescue of these victims”; and, “that, the State Security Services (SSS) and other security agencies be tasked on effective intelligence gathering in and around Nnewi”.
According to inscriptions on some placards displayed by the protesters, kidnappers had by August 9, 2011 preyed on 68 Nnewi dwellers. In deed, reports of new victims had become a daily affair, according to statements from the CNSF. Akin to Chief Emmanuel Uba, a very important personality that was at that time still a guest of his kidnappers, who had demanded N70million ransom for the man’s release; almost all the victims of abduction in these parts have been wealthy and notable personalities, like lawyers, doctors, bankers and industrialists.
None was therefore surprised to find so many of these professionals among the protesters. Consequent upon their turnout in large numbers, every business in town practically shut down for the better part of that day, while the agrieved residents called on relevant leaders and agencies to rise to the occasion. 
One of the speakers at the gathering, Chief Agu Onyeka, who is Chairman of the socio-cultural organisation, Nzuko Ora Nnewi, implored various authorities to urgently arrest the lingering insecurity; while another stakeholder, Chief Gabriel Chukwuma, opined that elders could not fold their arms and allow Nnewi, which boasts over 80,000 traders and tens of thousands of employees that depend directly or indirectly on these enterpreneurs; to drown under insecurity.
Hear Mr. Gozie Akudolu, President of Nnewi Traders Association: “Since this kidnapping issue started, about 68 major importers and manufacturers in Nnewi have been kidnapped… More than 15 people died, while being held by kidnappers. Over 300 persons have fallen victim in one way or another.
“Presently, 10 people are still being held at different unknown locations, and efforts to rescue them continue to prove abortive, as their captors insist on impossible conditions for their release. As a result, over 130 major importers and manufacturers in Nnewi have relocated to other parts of Nigeria for fear of being kidnapped”.
Street in Nnewi near the Main Market, whose traders are targeted by kidnappers.

In deed, the rue of Mr. Joseph Okeke, Nnewi Branch Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), that an average of 15 people were abducted on daily basis in the town, further drove in the point. “I live in this town, so I know kidnapping has caused a plethora of businesses to shut down here”. This is why more Nigerians and expatriates are afraid of investing in Nnewi, we were told. Speaking further, the NBA scribe remarked: “This is the reason, we are appealing to all relevant authorithies to create an anti-kidnap squad of the Nigerian Police in Anambra State”.
So frightening and pervasive were the stories of kidnappings in some media that the spokesman of Anambra State Police Command, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, had to call a press conference; where he presented a much lesser number of victims. Contrary to the staggering and often conflicting figures of victims bandied by some towns’ dwellers, the Police PRO claimed, during a conversation with one of our correspondents, that only eight persons had been kidnapped in Nnewi.
Mr. Chukwuemeka had added that, “out of that number, seven had actually been rescued by the police”. Hear him: “We have gone to our records and discovered that in the whole of Nnewi Command, comprising 16 Divisions; only 24 kidnap cases have been recorded. Out of this number, only eight persons were ever kidnapped in Nnewi Town. And, seven of these (eight) people have been released, with the exception of Mr. Emma Uba, who is still with his captors”.
Calling on all citizens to join hands with the police and operatives of other security organs to curb crimes, Mr. Chukwuemeka declared: “Security is not the monopoly of security agents. Therefore, we ask Anambrarians to furnish us with credible and verifiable information that will help us serve them better. It is part of our civic responsibility as Nigerians”.
Interestingly, two traders at Nnewi Main Market, Messrs Akudolu and Okeke; during separate interviews with mauricearchibongtravels, contested the statistics provided by the Police PRO.
Hear Akudolu: “That (eight victims) might be the police record. I am not in a position to declare their statistics as false. But our own record says that over 68 people have been kidnapped”. For emphasis, Akudolu stressed; “From the Market’s record”, more “than 68 people have been kidnapped from the town. It is we, who wear the shoes that can tell the world, where it pinches”.
While commending Anambra Governor, Mr. Peter Obi; “for his assistance in this issue”; Akudolu lamented: “It is sad to note that despite all he (Gov. Obi) has done to equip the police in the state, we are still witnessing this type of crime surge”.
On his part, Mr. Okeke was even more scathing. Hear him: “With the exception of one victim from the Orizu Royal Family, who was released by his captors, after ransom was paid; the police have not rescued anybody from kidnappers in this town. I don’t know anybody who has been rescued or released (without payment of ransom). You know the police will not tell you the truth because they want to protect their job. And people, who would ordinarily give them information, do not trust them. But, I must commend the Area Commander here and his team”.
According to Okeke, the Area Commander and his subordinates “have been working assiduously to improve our lot. Governor Obi has donated state-of-the-art equipment to the police. Let them sit up and protect us”, the lawyer pleaded.
Whatever the position of either side, the fact remains that kidnappers have been enjoying a field day in these parts. As one respondent submitted, “although the figure provided by the police is much lower than what is popularly held, the truth is that; eight incidents amount to eight kidnaps too many”.

Inside Ihembosi
From Nnewi, we came through Ozubulu road to Ubahu Okija and finally into Ihembosi in Ekwusigo LGA. From the somewhat smooth asphalt-finished major road, we turned into a sharply undulating crater-infested street. This is Umuabu Road; and, it was from here we tried to locate the palace of Igwe Ihembosi, HRH Jerry C. Okorie. It was a bumpy ride across the local road network until, after asking our way around, we finally made it to Richard Udechukwu Avenue, where the home of the King of Ihembosi, aka Eze Akpaka; is located.
At the entrance to the compound, where the two-floor palace stands, we found two men. When told that I was a writer from Lagos and needed to speak with one of the town’s chiefs in connection with a forthcoming report, one of the men turned his gaze upwards; and, and looking toward the balcony; called out: “Lolo, lolo!”
While waiting for Lolo to emerge, we had followed the man’s perspective on the balcony, too. There, we sighted two children; and, our heart went out to these young ones, who had been deprived the comfort and companionship of their father for months. Although we tried to suppress a sinking feeling of pessimism, nonetheless; one could not help wondering, if these young ones were ever going to see their dad again.
The appearance of a dark-complexioned lady on the balcony, jerked us out of our reverie. After our mission was explained to her, she had suggested that we should be directed to the home of someone else. But, suddenly remembering that this particular personality might not be disposed to speaking to us, as he was bereaved and at a funeral house, at the time; the woman advised us to try and locate the residence of Chief Eriobuna.
A retired judicial service staff, Chief MCR (Mark Chinyelude Raphael) Eriobuna, is also 2nd Vice President of Ihembosi Progress Assembly (IPA) and now resides in his country home. On the way to Eriobuna’s home, we found ourselves back on the township’s major road, where my guide stopped a local okada (motorbike taxi) operator; and asked him to lead us to the chief’s home, for a fee. A few minutes’ ride through a narrow village road brought us to something of a four-way intersection. To the left, we sighted a Catholic Church; while a group of okada riders stood to the right waiting for passengers. It was here we turned right and found the local market to our left. Within a minute, while savouring the surrounding topography of steeply undulating landscape spotting lush vegetation and dotted by a few palatial mansions here and there; we were back on the asphalt-coated road.
The local bike rider slowed down to allow us catch up with him, and riding parallel to his bike, the man said we were almost there. Immediately afterwards, he turned right into a compound with three buildings, one of them, an antique bungalow apparently built during the colonial era by someone, who must have been learned and comfortable in those days.
I was actually looking forward to entering this quaint bungalow to enjoy the views of the typical black and white portraits of family members that usually adorn the walls of the sitting room and corridors of such homes. But, it was to the comparatively much newer two-floor building we were herded by a young man that came out to receive us.
We were led upstairs and offered seats in the sitting-room; and, advised to wait. Some 10 minutes later, the same young man had returned to assure us that the chief would see us. To kill time, while waiting; I chose to keep busy by bringing out my cameras to review pictures of the horrible roads we had survived travelling across in the course of our latest South-east and South-south expeditions. Before I could sink into this past-time, the chief walked into the room. Reflexively, we all rose to greet our host.
He sat down and saying we should sit; requested we introduce ourselves and explain our mission. We did as we were told, after which Eriobuna said he couldn’t speak to us in his capacity as 2nd Vice President of IPA; without authorization.
Chief Mark Raphael Eriobuna.

In this chief’s view, IPA has a world-wide President General, and even a First Vice President. So, why were we interested in him, the Second Vice President? The answer was simple, we explained; many of the others lived away from home, and the one that was in town was at a funeral house. A somewhat meticulous personality, Chief Eriobuna called out to someone in the house to fetch his mobile phone. On being handed the handset, he dialled some numbers. Apparently due to fluctuating GSM network signals, he couldn’t get through to those he wished to speak with.
Chief Eriobuna later told us he even tried some numbers in Benin Republic to no avail. At this juncture, he offered to comment only as another respondent, a senior citizen; and not as one speaking on behalf of IPA.

Chief Eriobuna
As prelude to his comments, Chief Eriobuna emphasized: “I am not speaking for the community or the town union”. Following reassurances from us that, the distinction he sought would be projected, the chief continued: “As a citizen and indigene of this town, I can tell you that our traditional ruler, Igwe Jerry Okorie, was kidnapped”.
As to the actual date that the monarch was abducted, Eriobuna replied: “I cannot say, when exactly he was kidnapped; but, three weeks after a squabble between the king and his cabinet was resolved, there was speculation that igwe was missing”.
To clue us in on the period, we had further probed: “When was the difference between the igwe and his courtiers resolved”? “This was around April, several months ago”, the senior citizen recalled.
According to Chief Eriobuna, the community had subsequently sent a report of this shocking development to the Anambra State governor. A copy of the letter was also delivered to the commissioner of police, divisional police officer, Anambra commissioner for chieftaincy affairs as well as the state council of traditional rulers, among others.
And, what followed? Eriobuna again: “We learnt that some arrests were made. Following revelation that one Okechukwu Udezuka, believed to be gang leader, is among the men from Oraifite (a neighbouring town); who knew the whereabouts of our king, we were mandated; in our traditional way, to take kola-nut and wine to the king there, and to tell him how his subject had kidnapped our traditional ruler.
“Incidentally, the visiting cabinet did not meet the king because he was not in town; but, a member of his own cabinet attended to us. After hearing us out, the man promised we will hear from them soon. Although Oraifite people condemned the act, and declared all suspected culprits wanted; however, months afterwards, even till today (September 7); nothing has been heard from Oraifite”.
Has there been reactions from the government or its agencies, consequent upon letters sent to them?
“I cannot say that government is not doing enough, because I know that Igwe Okorie enjoys good rapport with Gov Obi. Also, I cannot say that the traditional rulers are not doing anything, because the kidnapped king is their Public Relations Officer (PRO)”, Chief Eriobuna submitted.
At community level, the womenfolk had declared a Prayer Day, where every commercial activity was suspended, to pray for the release of Igwe Okorie. The Prayer Day observed by Ihembosi Women was particularly significant, because they dedicated the most important market day of the week, when they could have enjoyed huge trading and profits, to supplicate to God for the release of their monarch, we gathered.
In the same vein, “Plans are in the pipeline by the men folk to suspend this year’s Iwa ji festivities, and again dedicate that day (last Saturday in September) to more prayers for their king to regain his freedom”, Eriobuna revealed.
And, so it was that, when the entire town of Ihembosi turned out at the New Yam Festival Arena last September 23; the gathering engaged in non-denominational prayers for their king’s release and not for Iwa ji fiesta.
And now, a painful question to ask; but, a candid one nonetheless: “The Igwe of Ihembosi was kidnapped seven months ago. Was hope dimming, the community would ever find him”? The sharp retort from Chief Eriobuna was: “We don’t believe in speculation, we don’t welcome unnecessary hearsay; but, one can say with emphasis that our Igwe is still alive”.
But, when asked to expatiate to clue us in on the basis of his faith; Chief Eriobuna declared: “For security reason, I won’t want to dabble in efforts by agents of our country’s security apparatus”.

‘Kidnappers robbing youth of jobs’
Apart from the case of the missing paramount ruler, it could be recalled that the President General of Ihembosi Progress Assembly, Chief Ebuka Onunkwo, was once kidnapped. Chief Onunkwo, who holds the traditional title of Odozi-obodo I, was seized from his country home on July 12, 2010; and, his abductors collected N30million as ransom before setting him free on July 15.
This is how Chief Onunkwo, CEO of Bukas International Sarl, narrated his experience to mauricearchibongtravels last year: “I was sitting inside my house, when they came in. There were four of them, each man heavily armed. Although, there were many other people with me in the house, I was the only one the men dragged away”.
Further reminiscing on his nerve-racking ordeal, a sigh reflexively escaped Chief Onunkwo; when he rued: “It was a terrible experience”.
So, what lessons did he learn from this unnerving experience, and what advice would he give in the circumstance?
Hear Chief Onunkwo, who is also Igbo Leader in Benin Republic: “The issue of insecurity has become a big problem. If something can be done to redress the situation, it will go a long way in encouraging many people to come home and help others. For example, many of us are discouraged from investing in Nigeria’s South-east geopolitical zone because of the (security) situation there. Many investors want to go down there and build industries. But, with the present situation, once you start, some people would begin to enquire about the investor. And, once you are identified; the kidnappers will come after you. How many of the big men from the South-east are going home now? All of them have fled home. So, all the jobs they would have helped to create are gone. It’s a serious situation. In fact, a critical one. It is a very sad situation”.
Evidently, the victim of kidnapping is usually not the only sufferer of a crime, whose nuisance value impacts on the entire society. Chief Onunkwo had to cough out N30million to buy back his freedom from kidnappers, and that money had been saved up through denying himself and his family certain luxuries over a long time. He had been saving up to raise funds to start a factory in eastern Nigeria, where he had hoped to contribute toward efforts at providing jobs for the ever-rising number of unemployed youth.

Other possible solutions
As to his views of the likely solution to the kidnap scourge, Onunkwo offered; “The solution calls for government to be up and doing with regard to the security of the country. Security of the lives and property of its citizens is the principal responsibility of any government. Part of the new strategy could be a review of the take-home of security operatives, because you cannot entrust food to the custody of a hungry man. The man would tamper with the food; his thinking would be: ‘Why should I starve to death, while preserving this food for the rich’? So, government must improve the conditions of service of people, who put their lives at risk for other peoples’ protection”.
It is worth noting that Onunkwo appreciates the fact that, irrespective of how huge security operatives’ wages become, certain incorrigible bad eggs, would always collude with criminal elements.
“We know that some people are hopelessly greedy; so, I know that salary review alone will not make crime disappear, but I believe that some people are involved in crimes like kidnapping and armed robbery because of hardship or want”, he reasoned.
Countless respondents suggested regular transfer and redeployments of security personnel. Their impression is hinged on the belief that, when a security agent spends a long time at a particular place, he might be drawn to interact with local rogue elements, including armed robbers and kidnappers.
There were also remarks that criminals frequently scout for accomplices among the police and other security agents. In the process, some operatives fall into the trap and get compromised. Such security agents subsequently metamorphose into kidnappers’ accomplices, armed robbers in uniform or the euphemistic fifth column.
Across Nigeria, traditional rulers, security personnel, bankers, lawyers, private enterpreneurs, public officials et cetera have fingered massive unemployment as a factor in the growing wave of crime in the country. Chief Onunkwo aptly summed up this perception, thus: “Let us compare it to an ailment; until the proper medication is administered, the sickness will not go away. So, we must get to the root of this crisis and apply the drastic measures that it calls for. It is a vicious cycle; people that should come and invest are scared away, everyone has fled. Without establishing more industries to curb the rising unemployment, the joblessness situation will continue to worsen, and the unsatisfactory security condition is one of the reasons kidnapping thrives in the South-east”.

Back to Adazi-Nnukwu
Back to Adazi-Nnukwu: Chief Oragwu was kidnapped, ironically on his way to church. Sources that spoke with mauricearchibongtravels in Adazi-Nnukwu on condition of anonymity revealed the clan-head had first gone to the local Catholic Church, for Mass. But, on realising that he had missed a substantial part of that day’s worship by the time he got there; he decided to proceed to the Catholic Cathedral in neighbouring Agulu. Sadly, he was nabbed on the way to that church and hasn’t been seen or heard from since six months ago.
It is worth noting that everyone now lives in fear across Adazi-Nnukwu: we rode into the town on an okada picked from another Anambra settlement. Although the commercial-bike operator knew his way to Adazi-Nnukwu, he wasn’t quite familiar with the location of the local palace. Therefore, we had to ask our way around. We stopped under an umbrella, where a trader sells recharge cards to ask for direction to the monarch’s residence.
Interestingly, the card vendor; a woman in her late 20s or early 30s, deliberately screamed out her response ostensibly so that as many as possible other people could hear and know our mission. And, before we could say igwe; it was as if the whole town had gathered around us out of curiosity.
Calmly, the bike-taxi operator had turned to an elderly man in the crowd and told him I was a visitor from Lagos and needed to get to the local palace for direction to the homes of select respondents. This elder had asked my name, where in Nigeria I hailed from; and, what I did for a leaving. At some point, I thought he was going to entertain the crowd further with questions of where my ancestors were buried; but, he simply asked to see my ID.
I passed my particulars, as Nigerians say at police checkpoints; to the old man. Sensing that our mission was not going to give the community any headache, the crowd began to disperse. After studying my ID, the senior citizen advised us to turn off the main road at the second street to the left, and ask our way from anyone we saw on that road. Along a dirt road, after turning off the asphalt-coated highway leading to Igbo Ukwu, we saw another old man trudging up the undulating erosion-infested avenue.
As if reading my mind, the bike operator pulled over close to the senior citizen; even before I asked him to. Alarmed, the elder tactfully moved to one side; and, starred around frantically to see, if there was any other pedestrian in the street. There was none. Were he much younger, he would have taken to his heels; but, unable to take flight; the man put up a brave face, but it was obvious he was overwhelmed by fear.
In response to our request to be directed to the palace of the local traditional ruler, the old man claimed he had no idea. He said he was heading to a funeral, and that we should please ask someone else. “O, you will find many other people as you ride along”, he assured us in a quivering voice.
That, in a nutshell, is how we let this papa be. Following the dirt road, we eventually came upon the local library, built by Adazi-Nnukwu community; and, it was here, we found people at the small market nearby to direct us to the local town hall. However, we soon discovered that virtually everyone at the busy town hall was wary of speaking of kidnapping. Nonetheless, a few less frightened folks confirmed that the clan head of Adazi-Nnukwu was kidnapped.
From Adazi-Nnukwu, we headed for Awka, the Anambra State capital with the aim of getting comments from the governor’s office and Police State Command. Unfortunately, due to heavy rains that pounded Awka for two consecutive days, we could not meet an appointment secured with Mr. Mike Udah, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Obi. When we turned up at his office the following day, the CPS said our visit was ill-timed because his boss was about leaving office to attend to important functions outside Awka.

We’re on top of the situation - Anambra Police PRO
Once, it was armed robbers Anambra inhabitants dreaded; but, today, violent robberies are rarely recorded. Criminal elements have found a more lucrative enterprise, kidnapping! Yes, the rewards from this venture are so tempting that it might prove impossible to stamp out the despicable business of abduction for money.
In saner climes, no county sheriff would sleep easy; where ordinary citizens groaned under insomnia triggered by fear. In any precinct beleaguered by crime, every police officer would strive to extirpate the culprits; in a normal setting. In the process, some policemen and women distinguish themselves by the number of crimes they bust and the criminals they succeed in sending to jail. That is how a security operative emerges as a hero/heroine.
With due apology to the truly dedicated officers in Nigeria Police Service (sorry Force); for, there are such ones in the mix; unfortunately, however, across Nigeria; the police usually fail, when it comes to reining in criminals. In Africa’s self-styled Giant in the sun, police chiefs distinguish themselves by the gargatuan sizes of their pot-bellies. This explains why the average Nigeria police personnel sleeps with both eyes closed, while citizens have to engage mai-guard, many of them foreigners; to keep robbers, kidnappers et cetera at bay.
Many Nigerians have, sadly, lost faith in some organs of their nation’s security service. Not surprisingly, countless respondents said Anambra is a good example of the Nigeria Police Force at its worst. The plethora of community vigilance groups must mean relief to many inhabitants that can now go about their businesses without falling prey to robbers’ bullets or being abducted for ransom.
However, most Nigerians see the current state of affairs, where local vigilance bodies have been hired by different communities for protection, as a classic vote of no confidence in the Nigeria Police. In deed, the repartee of one irreverent respondent was: “We have a Police Farce”. Continuing, while laughing heartilly, the fellow added: “Forget the meaningless Force in their name because the criminal elements holding Nigerians to ransom seem immune to their self-styled force”.
Analysts said the trend has been to throw more and more money into security votes over the years. Paradoxically, the feeling of insecurity and crime rate have spiralled over the last 12 years. It would seem that, the more the amount that was spent as security vote, the more the situation had degenerated. Observers opined the reason is not far-fetched: there would be no compelling need to hike the security vote, where safety and security reigned. Conspiracy theory? The situation speaks for itself…
Whatever the case, most Anambra inhabitants live in fear. From Adazi-Nnukwu to Nnewi; from Agulu to Nkpo or Onitsha to Ihembosi; and, across the state generally; there’s tension in the air. Mr. Mukhtari Ibrahim is Commissioner of Police, Anambra State. He assumed duty in Anambra in December, 2010; and, it would seem that kidnappers were determined to make his tenure as Anambra Commissioner of Police a tough one. Barely four weeks after he took office, the spate of kidnappings virtually skyrocketted.
When again contacted, during another chat with him on Thursday, October 6; Anambra Police spokesman, Mr. Chukwuemeka, enthusiastically informed that “Chief Emmanuel Uba had since been released”. With regard to the Igwe of Ihembosi and the head of Adazi-Nnukwu clan, the PPRO confirmed: “These two traditional rulers have not yet been released. But, the fact that they are yet to be released is not to say that police is not doing any thing. Concerning this matter, one suspect was arrested and is still in custody to help out with our investigations. We are doing everything possible to ensure the two traditional rulers are released, and with God on our side; we will effect their release.
“In deed, the Anambra Police Command under the current leadership has succeeded in substantially improving the situation. There are plain-clothe detectives at strategic places gathering intelligence and we are constantly monitoring potential flashpoints. This is one of the reasons that the incidents of kidnapping have dropped across Anambra State. These show that the police is not resting on its oars”.
Reacting to our observation that residents were still groaning under fear of kidnappers, despite all the incumbent police command has achieved, Mr. Chukwuemeka reiterated: “Records are there to prove that the rate has abated considerably, which means we have brought the situation under control and are capable of doing more, given credible information from members of the public. It is true that the scourge has not been wiped out completely. But, Police are not magicians; this is why every security agency needs the cooperation of the people”.
On the controversy surrounding the figures he gave, which fall far short of what is popularly bandied in the state; Mr. Chukwuemeka had this to say, “We don’t want to join issues unnecessarily. We keep record of every incident, including kidnap cases, which can be released in a few moments for relevant members of the public to see. Therefore, I can say; based on the records and the fact that crime rates have dropped in recent months, that; to this extent, we have been able to restore a sense of security in the populace”.

Anambra: A troubling paradox
The lingering fear of kidnappers is the reason an uncountable number of Igbo people dread going home, these days. Interestingly, of all the Igbo states currently groaning under kidnappings, the situation is most dire in Anambra State, which; paradoxically, has given Nigeria more distinguished personalities than any other region in the South-east geo-political zone.
The Rt. Hon Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Reverend Fr. Emmanuel Tansi, the only Nigerian to be beatified by the Catholic Church; Cardinal Emmanuel Arinze, Sir Louis Ojukwu, businessman extraordinaire; Chief Augustin Ilodibe of Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport Company fame; Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, a former Senate President; Dr. Nwafor Orizu, another one-time Senate President; Maths genius Prof. Chike Obi, Cyprian Ekwensi, Dr. Pius Okigbo, Chief Clement Akpamgbo and Ben Enwonwu are among deceased Nigerian heroes that Anambra gave Nigeria.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, a former Secretary General of the Commonwealth; literary guru of world renown Prof. Chinua Achebe; Dr. Alex Ekwueme, a former Vice President of Nigeria, renowned architect, businessman and accomplished politician; Prof. Laz Ekwueme, an accomplished scholar, actor and traditional ruler; and, Prof. Uche Okeke, a celebrated artist and art scholar are also among the galaxy of stars of Anambra origin.
Aside these older folks, younger generation of Anambra’s wiz kids include celebrated computer scientist Philip Emeagwali; Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo, immediate-past Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; World Bank Director Prof (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili; Prof (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili, who; as Director General of NAFDAC (National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control), was a thorn in the flesh of merchants of death masquerading as manufacturers or traders; Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Osita Chidoka; Chief Cosmas Maduka, founder of Coscharis Industries; Chief Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Group of Industries; Chief Sam Okey Nwosu, an industrialist, business magnate, political commentator and proprietor of Marble Arch Hotels; and, Chief Ebuka Onunkwo (Odozi-obodo I), Chairman of Bukas International Sarl as well as President General of Ihembosi Progress Assembly.
Sadly, however, developments in different Anambra settlements nowadays are so depressing; it would be hard to imagine that this same state is where the above-named very important personalities hailed from.
On the irony that Anambra is worst hit, whereas this state has produced the highest number of Igbos among the Nigerian elite; this is what Chief Eriobuna had to say: “You can’t pin the kidnappers down to Anambra, alone. In fact, feelers we get indicate the principal culprits are natives of states outside Anambra. I know what our (Anambra) youth can do…They don’t have the liver for this kind of deadly engagements”.
How does one explain the high crime rate across Anambra now, and what was the atmosphere in previous decades that enabled this state to spawn so many great men and women?
Eriobuna again: “During our own time, we were very resourceful and dynamic, and we valued education. Today, the society no longer cherishes education or hard work. Leaders seem not to encourage education or reward hardwork. And, values have been turned on their heads. Nobody wants to know what you do for a living, priority has been shifted entirely to wealth. So, money has become everything. Today, a kidnapper can make N50million overnight; this is why kidnapping is rampant. O, the quest for money these days is shameful”.
Aside from misplaced priorities and distorted value system, Eriobuna also identified “lack of jobs and loss of interest in education” among reasons for the staggering crime rate. “Our boys are no longer reading or even interested in going to school. The situation is so bad and very saddening. I was in a committee to select post-WASCE students with Credit in 5 subjects for further training, and I was shocked because in my hamlet we couldn’t find three boys with credit in five subjects. And, the situation is similar in many other villages.
“The boys no longer value education. They look around and find many graduates languishing in poverty due to unemployment. So, our youth now see going to school as a waste of time. The average boy in the village prefers to engage in menial work, like carrying blocks at building sites or helping to till the soil or planting on farmland for daily wages. They want income on daily basis, and no longer want to be in school because even graduates are not seen as better-off. This is the tragedy of our situation”.
Now, having identified the problems; how does Chief Eriobuna think government should go about redressing the situation?
“Government should find a way to get children interested in going to school. Government should embark on aggressive campaigns to lure young ones to school; the younger generation must be made aware of the importance of education and knowledge. In my days, we were regularly reminded that ‘knowledge is power’, but in today’s Nigeria everybody thinks ‘money is power’.
“This is a mistake. So, government should foster awareness because education is the bedrock of any growth. I don’t see how an educated person can rise up to kidnap a fellow human-being for money”!

Nigerian kidnappers export expertise
Some Nigerians may have gravitated toward kidnapping to earn a living, since epileptic electricity supply has rendered manufacturing centres dysfunctional, thus robbing youths of employment opportunities.
And, like every “professional” sector, there are kidnapping practitioners determined to export their expertise for foreign exchange. This must explain why some Nigerian kidnappers took their trade overseas. For example, no fewer than six incidents of abduction for ransom were recorded in Cotonou, the economic capital of neighbouring Benin Republic, within six months in 2010. And Nigerians were proven to have been involved in these crimes.
In deed, until early this year (2011); Nigerians resident in Cotonou lived in fear because of the wave of kidnappings in that city. It could be recalled that the Nigerian community in Cotonou had actually come under intense heat over the kidnap of a Lebanese in April 2011. The victim (names withheld) had been seized by two young men and taken to a hideout somewhere in the sprawling city.
Following negotiations, one of the kidnappers had gone to pick up the ransom. However, he practically walked into a police ambush and was made to lead the security operatives to where the captive was being held. There, the victim was freed and both kidnappers taken into detention. To verify their nationality, the Nigerian embassy had been called in, and a consular officer as well as a member of the Igbo community had visited the detainees in prison; whereupon it was confirmed that they are natives of Ahiazu-Mbaise.
Another of such ugly developments took place on Sunday, 21 November, 2010; when two children of Mr. Mike Orji, Assistant General Secretary of the Nigerian Community Union (NCU), Cotonou; were seized from their home, while their parents were on an outing. Although the captives were eventually released, five days later; their father had to cough out over CFA1.2million (at least N380,000) to get them back. The rogue elements had earlier demanded a ransom of CFA20million (over N700,000) for the children’s release, but after “negotiations” they had settled for roughly 50 percent of the original sum.
Aside Mr. Orji; Mr. Innocent Otuohan, who hails from Mbitolu, Imo State; had also surrendered CFA2million (over N700,000) as ransom for the release of two of his sons seized by kidnappers. In the same vein, another Igbo victim was forced to pay CFA300,000 (over N100,000) as ransom to recover his two children, too.
Reacting to growing rumours since October 2010 that a kidnapping gang from Nigeria had invaded Benin Republic, and worried that any criminal act traced to a Nigerian could poison the cordial relationship between the host Beninoise community and law-abiding Nigerians who had been living in Cotonou and carrying out legitimate business for decades; members of the Igbo community had called a meeting, where the matter was discussed at length.
Rising from that gathering, it was agreed that a circular be sent to all relevant stakeholders calling on every Igbo in Cotonou to be vigilant because it had been learnt that the visiting kidnappers avoid lodging in hotels to evade detection. Instead, they squat in the homes of some kinsmen from where they hatch and subsequently execute their evil plots.
The memo had warned that anyone discovered to have haboured any kidnapper would be reported to the Beninoise security authorities. As the highest ranking member of the Nigerian community at that sitting, the lot had fallen on Mr. Orji to sign the circular; and, it is widely believed the kidnappers resorted to abducting his children as part of a grand design to intimidate the man as well as silence other prospective critics of their nefarious activities.
Interestingly, an emerging pattern in all the Cotonou kidnapping cases, was the criminals’ demand for the ransom money to be dropped for them inside a cemetery in the town of Ouidah, an ancient slave port settlement and lies west of Cotonou on the way to Hilla Condji. This use of a cemetery as collection point of ransom money had sparked speculations that the kidnappers could be connected to evil cults.

Statistics, etymology of a global malaise
Etymology traces the root of kidnap to Scandinavia in Europe’s north-west. In some Nordic tongues, kid refers to child. Add kid to nap, the slang word for, to snatch or steal; and, you have kidnap.
Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Interestingly, however, whereas Central and South American countries as well as the Horn of Africa land of Somalia pose the highest risks; no Scandinavian country pops up among the world's 10 worst kidnapping nations.  
In 1999, Nigeria ranked nineth among the world's countries with highest rate of kidnap incidents, according to Information from Kidnapping in Foreign Countries at Mongabay's web-site, asserts that “Kidnapping is a real and dangerous threat in many countries”. Another report, Top 10 places to get kidnapped from, by Rock Castle Insurance; warns that lately, incidences of kidnap, ransom and extortion have waxed more abundant. Truly.
Within an eight-year period (1992-1999), 7,773 people were kidnapped in 10 countries. Interestingly, Colombia topped the list with 5,181 victims, roughly 70 per cent of the world total for these 10 most risky countries.
Mexico, with 1,269 incidents, came a distant second; followed by Brazil (515) as well as Philipines (492), Russia or all former countries of the defunct USSR (250), Venezuela (109), India (76), Ecuador (66), Nigeria (34) and South Africa (11).
These figures were culled from records compiled by Hiscox Group, and authorities admit: they “do not purport to represent the full extent of the problem”. Interestingly, the reader is also advised to “bear in mind that only a tiny fraction (10 per cent?) of all kidnapping cases are reported to authorities for fear that (more reports and publicity) will trigger further kidnappings”.
Rock Castle’s studies corroborate Mongabay’s data, which indicate that “48 per cent of kidnap for ransom incidents occur in Latin-America”. Quoting Insurance Carrier AIG’s Crisis Management Division in Philadelphia, USA; the report revealed: “There are over 20,000 reported kidnap for ransom incidents annually, with 48 per cent of them occuring in Latin-America”.
The Rock Castle paper also projects the impression that a large number of kidnap incidents do not get reported, thus: “80 per cent of kidnap for ransom cases go unreported”. According to Rock Castle, estimates by experts indicate reported incidents amount to barely 20 per cent, “largely due to distrust (of) local law enforcement (agencies)”. In other words, “the annual incidence of Kidnap for Ransom is closer to 100,000 cases per year”, going by the Rock Castle study.
It is worth noting that Nigeria might have been spared this appearance among the world’s 10 most dangerous countries, but for an upsurge which threw up 24 kidnappings in 1999, against one solitary incident recorded for 1992. From what began with white expartriate staff of oil companies as their primary targets, Nigerian kidnappers had subsequently since spread to dragnet over fellow indigenes.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that even with the rising wave of kidnappings across Nigeria; the scourge is more perversive in other countries of the world. However, this is no excuse for relevant authorities not to do everything within their power to extirpate this malady.
Evidently, incidents of kidnapping world-wide must be much more than official records show; this is the reason varying figures spring up from different quarters. For various reasons, there will always be incongruity between actual incidents and reported cases.
In deed, the disparity between the figures given by Anambra Police Command spokesman and those from Nnewi Traders Association members could be attributed to this incongruity.
A Janus-faced wahala
How does one evade kidnappers’ radar? Does public display of generosity expose one to kidnappers or is it safer to be tight-fisted and pretend to be as poor as everyone else?
Hear the view of one respondent: “Some Anambra-born money-bags live in opulence outside their hometowns and seem completely disinterested in the welfare of cousins and other distant relations, who live in the village. But, during home-coming for funeral or wedding ceremony; such city-dwellers revel in ostentation, much to the annoyance of poorer kiths and kin. Experience has shown that such people are subsequently targetted, sometimes with the collusion of a relation, who serves as informant to kidnappers”.
Interestingly, we were also told that some individuals that are widely perceived as stinking rich but believe in “chopping alone” are despised by some community members for being stingy. Through the connivance of some unhappy relation, such “clams” have also been known to have fallen prey to kidnappers.
Either way, to squeeze their share out of the more prosperous ones in the land; a member of the clan could be tempted to collude with kidnappers with a view to getting a cut of the ransom.
“If you are wealthy, enjoy your wealth in a dignifying manner. Don’t flaunt it unnecessarily, thus making the have-not miserable. Also, find some way of helping the less-privileged ones in your family and community without being loud about it”. This was the counsel of an elder in one of the villages we toured.
Given this senior citizen’s advice, how does one then explain the kidnap of Chief Ebuka Onunkwo, who was abducted for ransom, despite his famed charitable disposition?
We turned to Chief Eriobuna again. “Under normal circumstances, no sane person would kidnap such a man”, this retiree observed. Our interpretation: The circumstances are apparently not normal or the kidnappers are insane; possibly both!
This explains why, whether one was given to philanthropy or was simply miserly, he or she was still a potential target of abduction for extortion. In deed, the situation is evocative of head, the kidnappers win; and, tail; hapless citizens still lose.
Paradoxically, in this Yuletide season, kidnappers; who incidentally also want to be part of a celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ; could be plotting to abduct people that went home for the festivities. How sad…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

mauricearchibongtravels: Omodele Ayo Audifferen: Vital documents missing

mauricearchibongtravels: Omodele Ayo Audifferen: Vital documents missing

Omodele Ayo Audifferen: Vital documents missing

‘She was an angel who devoted her life to family’
…‘Whatever she craved that eluded her in this life, may she achieve it in the next incarnation’
This report is aimed at setting the records straight as regards Nigerian woman who died years ago, dies again in Benin Republic; which was published on October 3, 2011.
Although a brother of the deceased visited Benin Republic to collect the body for burial, the matter is still not closed as vital documents; including estates’ title deeds, are yet to be recovered.

It has emerged that the story, Nigerian woman who died years ago dies again in Benin Republic, actually involved two women; a mother and her only daughter. As was hinted in the report, published in Daily Sun of October 3, 2011; through our reference to Figure it out for yourself; the title of a thriller by James Hadley Chase, one could not really be sure who was who because of the convoluted nature of the then unfolding saga.
Albeit, we had filed the report with the hope of locating a relative since the deceased’s remains were still in a mortuary more than five months after her death. Cheeringly, that report achieved this purpose and even more.

The young Audifferen family in 1965, whilst resident at 1 Odo Ogun Close; six years before the father left home. L-R: Mrs. Margaret Ekanem Audifferen, Juyin, Dayo, Eng. Solomon Bankole Audifferen and Omodele (on her daddy's knee).

Dr. Ekundayo Audifferen, an overseas-based sibling of the late woman, after reading our story; travelled down to Benin Republic to collect the body for burial. Although this survivor in a statement believes the matter is sealed, mauricearchibongtravels can authoritatively reveal that the saga is far from over as vital documents, including estates’ title deeds, are yet to be recovered.
As regards Mrs. Margaret Ekanem Audifferen (nee Utip) and Omodele Ayo Audifferen, the names of both women mentioned in the report; we hit the nail on the head. The former is the mother who died and was buried in Nigeria in 2004, while the latter is the person that passed on in Benin Republic on May 2, 2011. Our unreserved apologies to her immediate family and blood relatives for any inaccuracies and distress caused by earlier reports; this was wholly unintended.
Reliable sources indicate an official of Nigerian Embassy Cotonou, who was saddled with this assignment, in conjunction with Alhaji Yusuf Salami, President of Porto Novo Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), are in contact with Benin government authorities to recover vital documents allegedly removed from the dead woman’s house for safekeeping.
However, two months since Omodele Ayo Audifferen was buried, mysteries shroud the whereabouts of some of her belongings, including passport, bank statements/cheque books and estates’ title deeds.
Whatever the report’s flaws, we have nonetheless been commended; for, the story helped to locate this brother of the late Omodele Ayo Audifferen; and, consequently facilitated her burial. But for our report, the deceased’s body would still be lying in the morgue by now. So, thanks to our story, Omodele Ayo Audifferen was finally buried on October 29, 2011; almost six months since her transition.
It is worth noting that the deceased was never married and died childless due to health complications. She never really got over the death of her mother in 2004 and probably, coupled with her medical condition, succumbed to depression and sought solace in drinking because of her medical record and matrimonial status. These are among the facts we must now put right following additional information made available to us.
In deed, US-based Dr. Audifferen, immediate elder brother of the deceased, was in Benin Republic, his first ever visit to that country, and the only one to Africa, since he left these shores more than 30 years ago, to identify the body and facilitate the interment of his late sister’s remains.
Although he pointed out some inaccuracies in our report, Dr. Audifferen, nonetheless, admitted that the story yielded positive outcome in helping to locate him and finally laying the matter to rest.
Report yielded positive result
In fact, it was only by a stroke of sheer luck that the eye-catching headline of Maurice Archibong caught the attention of a relative who, out of curiosity, clicked on his story and in her words ‘almost had a heart attack’. I was then contacted immediately and proceeded to deal with the situation. Mr Archibong's story, distressing and negative as it may seem, especially to my blood relatives, who also stumbled upon the story; (we) are at least agreed on the fact that the eye-catching nature of the headline itself had a positive outcome in locating me in the final analysis”, wrote Dr. Audifferen in a statement on the incident.
Reacting to perceived prevarication on the part of Nigerian Embassy Cotonou, which culminated in Omodele’s body lying for so long in the morgue; as alluded to in our report, the bereaved’s take, as declared in his statement, is: “The inability of the Nigerian Embassy officials to locate her true sibling during this period of time may be explained by the uniqueness of the case in hand and the lack of the necessary manpower, skills and personnel trained to conduct painstaking extensive searches of this nature”.
Dayo’s (Dr. Audifferen’s) guess at this point is that “this case in point is not strictly day-to-day conventional diplomatic business, which most of our embassies are accustomed to”. Adding that, “Whether valuable lessons have been learnt in this instance is beyond the scope of this statement; he subsequently went on “to thank the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou for their cooperation, the moment I came forward and presented myself with proof as next-of-kin”.
Dayo also expressed gratitude to Alhaji Salami, Porto Novo Chapter President of NIDO, who rose to the occasion and contributed invaluably toward resolving the issues on ground. “I can only describe him (Alhaji Salami) as a God-sent in assisting to bring this situation to its logical conclusion”, Dayo said.
Nonetheless, it would seem that the issue is still unravelling and far from conclusion, going by our findings which reveal that Dr. Audifferen has not been able to retrieve some vital documents, including estates’ title deeds, removed from his late sister’s belongings.
Sources close to the bereaved, when contacted, said Dayo had however sounded optimistic that the items would be handed over, following assurances from Alhaji Salami that an official of Nigerian Embassy Cotonou handling the investigation was in touch with Beninoise authorities with a view to collecting the documents.
From contacts with Dayo Audi
After filing my report, I had continued investigation of the story even before my exclusive was published on October 3. And, as I made progress toward a follow-up, I had received an e-mail on October 8 from the deceased’s brother. “It has taken me a while to locate your e-mail address, but I am glad I may have finally succeeded,” stated Dr. Audifferen in his mail.
Dayo’s letter added: “I can categorically confirm that the photograph which accompanied your article of Thursday October 6, 2011 is my sister Omodele Audifferen (taken in 1980). I am Ekundayo, her elder brother. The name, ‘Ekanem’ referred to in the photograph, is that of our mother; late Chief (Mrs.) Margaret Ekanem Audifferen (nee Utip), who died on November 1, 2004”.
Dayo also confirmed that his sister had no children, thus: “My sister also had no children of her own”. He further revealed he was deeply touched by the large crowd that accompanied the deceased on her final journey on earth.
In the three or four years that Omodele lived in Djeregbe near Porto Novo, she had garnered a sizeable number of well-wishers and was fondly called Mummy by everyone in the neighbourhood. And, every month; from the rent collection, Mummy bought presents for her tenants’ children and other kids in surrounding homes.
Dayo again: “She (Omodele) was a responsible, warm, trusting and loving individual who tried all her life to make things right for her family. It would seem that she bore her cross stoically, in spite of her depression and health challenges, without wanting to load her burden on anyone else”.
After our report, which led to Dr Audifferen’s homecoming, a coffin was bought, the late lady’s body was collected, and burial arrangements were about to be completed. And, as the funerary cortege was heading toward the cemetery, Viola! Suddenly, the few persons that initially set out with the coffin had swollen into a large crowd! The human throng got thicker as the body progressed toward the sepulchre, for many people abandoned whatever they were doing to bid this Mummy their last respects.
So sincere was the locals’ affection and spontaneous their reaction that Dayo was moved to tears. “These were people I had never seen or met in my life till that day. So, in the final analysis, the burial means that her soul has now been released. She has gone to be with the Lord; and, I am happy that we finally laid this matter to rest”, was Dayo’s muse as we discussed this matter severally on telephone.
“I had to hurriedly come down, when I realised what had happened. I owed it to my sister. If I didn’t come down and sort things out, it would haunt my conscience for the rest of my life. I was able to pursue my post-graduate education because Omodele was there to take care of the home-front for me. She was the angel of our family. She made sacrifices in her life, so that we could make progress in ours. She put her life on hold to look after our mother”, Dayo further remarked.
Mrs. Margaret Audifferen had died in 2004; and, after the burial of her mother, Omodele felt that her duty was done. It was about this time she started talking of moving on to start a new life somewhere, perhaps in Cotonou; where she said she had developed personal and business contacts. She had a thriving business that spanned a number of countries in West Africa, we gathered.
Some time in 2006, Omodele had informed Dayo, her big brother, that; finally, she was relocating to Cotonou. Part of her reason for leaving could be a desire to put her past behind her, especially the stress of her parents’ separation and the consequences of a very bitter divorce, which apparently left serious emotional scars.
Being the youngest sibling, and the only female, it must have affected her deeper than imagined, although she bottled in a lot of emotions. Omodele had promised to keep in touch since she had Dayo’s contacts; phone numbers, postal address and all. However, months had morphed into a year and no word came from her. After two years of silence, Dayo was seriously hurting: how could his baby sister ignore him so?
If he had Omodele’s current contacts, Dayo would have tried to reconnect with her; but, he had none. She had his, yet she would not call. Initially, he was angry at his sister for the breakdown in communication. But, as the years waxed from two to three, then to four; his anger gave way to anxiety. Dayo was now truly disturbed, no phone call or card on his birthday? No phone call or greeting card for Christmas?
This was strange, very much unlike his baby sister: never, since their childhood days, had they gone without communicating for so long. His anger having now evaporated in the face of apprehension; Dayo started making frantic efforts to locate his beloved sister.
Sadly, all the calls and letters to her old contacts drew blank. Then, on October 3, 2011; a friend sent him a text message drawing his attention to a story written by Maurice Archibong, which confirmed his worst fears: Omodele had gone home.
The Audifferens up close
As aforesaid in our previous report, the story of Mrs. Margaret Ekanem Audifferen and her daughter, Omodele, is both touching and gripping. Decades ago, love had brought the then Miss Margaret Ekanem Utip and Mr. Solomon Bankole Audifferen together. After a period of courtship, the couple had gone on to tie the proverbial nuptial knot.
While their union held, Margaret and Solomon were blessed with three children: the first two were boys, followed by a girl. The baby of the family was Omodele, and her immediate older sibling was Ekundayo (Dayo). The family certainly belonged to the upper class or upper middle-class, given that their House Number 1, Odo Ogun Close residence stood in the south-western parts of the elite Lagos neighbourhood of Ikoyi.
However, in December 1971, whilst the children were barely in their teens, their father left the matrimonial home to start a new life, ironically with a lady, a close family friend who the children called ‘Aunty’.
Presumably, before their parent’s unofficial separation, the atmosphere was always tense at home. Apparently, there were frequent fussing and shouting; and, perhaps, the occasional fighting. Unable to endure the rancour any more, the eldest of the Audifferen kids left his parents in search of another home where he could find peace.
Interestingly, as the distance between their parents grew longer, the bond between Dayo and Omodele waxed stronger. This brother and sister were always there for each other, and their mother never let them down. Their now single-parent family remained in Ikoyi and the children made steady progress in education. In 1982, Dayo left for the United Kingdom for post-graduate studies. He would remain in the UK, where he later bagged a PhD. He now resides in the USA.
Back home, Omodele was pursuing her Advanced Levels in Physics, Chemistry and Biology at the Federal School of Arts and Science (FSAS) in Victoria Island, Lagos by 1980. With her only two siblings away, Omodele naturally had to stand by her mom. Amid caring for her mom, Omodele also made good in the academic arena graduating as a medical doctor.
To make matters worse, at some point, she was diagnosed with an ailment that required hysterectomy. It is believed her passing arose from complications with this ailment. Sadly, after relocating to Benin; the new life she hoped to begin never really took off. If anything, that phase turned out to be the twilight of her sojourn on earth.
But, she lived a good life, nonetheless. Interestingly, Omodele was born on May 2; and, her passage on May 2 deserves some interpreting here. In the ancient West African Akan culture, it is believed that anyone that died on the anniversary of that person’s birth has automatically made heaven. So, we have reason to believe she lived a worthy life.
Any child deserted by a parent would naturally despise such a one. Understandably, Dayo stopped seeing any hero in his father; who abandoned him and his sibling, when they needed him most. He admittedly held a grudge against his father, not so much for the divorce of his mother, but for her ill-treatment and what he described as “attempting (though unsuccessfully) by thought, word and deed to replace his natural mother with an unnatural one”.
However, during the requiem mass preceding Omodele’s interment; the officiating priest, a complete stranger Dayo had never met; took his hand and, this is how the bereaved summarised the cleric’s advice to him: “He told me that now was the time to let go of the grudge I had nurtured for almost 40 years so that I can be free. He asked me personally to do this in memory of my sister and in order to equip myself with the moral fibre to be able to ask God for forgiveness as we are all sinners”.
And, how did that suggestion go down with Dayo? It went down well: “I have done so”, he declared. Evidently, Omodele has given others a new life through her death: her passage has washed away family grudges.
O Lord, Almighty God; please, grant the soul of our departed dear sister eternal peace. Amen. Omodele, Omo rele Ayo, sun re o

Statement by Dr Ekundayo Audifferen - brother of the deceased
Re: Nigerian woman who died years ago, dies again in Benin Republic
Since this story is now in the public domain, I feel it is absolutely necessary to correct the inaccuracies and distortions that appeared in the Daily Sun newspaper articles of both the 3rd and 7th October 2011.
Having left Nigeria for 30 years, and with the passing away of my mother in 2004, coupled with my sister deciding on a new life in Cotonou (Benin Republic), I have lost touch with events in my home country.
Admittedly, I have not been a follower of Nigerian news stories on television or the Internet. However, I always kept touch with my junior sister until after 2006, when she suddenly stopped writing to or phoning me. In fact, it was only by a stroke of sheer luck that the eye-catching headline of Maurice Archibong caught the attention of a relative who, out of curiosity, clicked on his story and in her words "almost had a heart attack". I was then contacted immediately and proceeded to deal with the situation.
In the interest of correct reporting, and moreover, to avoid the indictment of posterity, herewith the facts:
1. The deceased, Dr Omodele Audifferen (herein after referred to as Omodele), is the only daughter of Margaret Ekanem Audifferen (mother) and Solomon Bankole Audifferen (father). She survived by myself, her elder brother and another brother senior to myself. Her mother, Margaret Ekanem Audifferen, passed away in 2004 in Lagos and has since been laid to rest in her home town in Cross River State.*
2. We all lived together, father, mother, daughter, myself and elder brother as a family at 1 Odo Ogun Close, Lagos for many years. Even after my father departed the family home in December 1971, to start a new life with another woman - ironically a close family friend and confidante of my mother and someone who we fondly referred to as 'Auntie'- we continued to live at the same address.
3. Following my mother's passing in 2004, Omodele said she was going to start a new life in Cotonou (Benin Republic) where she said she had developed personal and business contacts. She told me she would contact me the moment she was settled in Cotonou and that since she had all my contacts, it was needless my writing to her as she was in transit between Lagos and Cotonou. During this period, she telephoned regularly and never forgot to send me a card on my birthday and Christmas. However, by the end of 2006, that was the last I heard from her, despite various attempts to write to her at her last known location in Lagos. I never heard from her again until Archibong's story hit the headlines.
4. The inability of the Nigerian Embassy officials to locate her true sibling during this period of time may be explained by the uniqueness of the case in hand and the lack of the necessary manpower, skills and personnel trained to conduct painstaking extensive searches of this nature. One can conjecture that this case in point is not strictly day-to-day conventional diplomatic business which most of our embassies are accustomed to. Whether valuable lessons have been learnt in this instance is beyond the scope of this statement.
5. Mr Archibong's story, distressing and negative as it may seem, especially to my blood relatives, who also stumbled upon the story, are at least agreed on the fact that the eye-catching spectacular nature of the headline itself had a positive outcome in locating me in the final analysis.
I wish to thank the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou for their cooperation the moment I came forward and presented myself with proof as next-of-kin. They introduced me to the head of the Nigerian Organisation in Diaspora (Porto-Novo Chapter), Alhaji Yusuf Salami, who I can only describe as a Godsend in assisting to bring this situation to its logical conclusion. May I take this opportunity also to thank my blood relatives from both sides of the family for their messages of condolence and support. May the Lord bless you all.
My sister Omodele in many ways was the guardian of our little family, who put her life on hold to support her Mother and mentor during those very difficult years. My prayer to Almighty God is that your efforts here on earth and the sacrifices you made for family, and the things you missed out on on earth, may not be forgotten by the Creator.
Ironically, it was as a result of this incident, that I found out from a relative, that my father had been very desperate to make things up with me in the final years of his life and apologise for what he described as "the mistakes in his life". Also, I heard he wanted to discuss with me something he said that had weighed heavily on his soul and conscience. Although I have not been privileged to hear what he had to say, in a bizarre twist of fate, the priest who officiated at Omodele's burial ceremony, and whom I had never met in my life, took my hand and told me that now was the time to let go of the grudge I had nurtured for almost 40 years so that I can be free. He asked me personally to do this in memory of my sister and in order to equip myself with the moral fibre to be able to ask God himself for forgiveness as we are all sinners. I have done so. And may the soul of my sister (deceased May 2nd 2011) and that of my father (deceased March 2010) and indeed the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in perfect peace.
Dr Ekundayo Audifferen

 Below, is the original copy of the first story submitted to Daily Sun:
Nigerian woman who died yrs ago, dies again in Benin Republic
… Despite wealthy estates she left behind at home and abroad, none has come to claim body lying in morgue since May

Her story reads like a thriller: the type only a great novelist could spin. However, the somewhat grace-to-grass context and the many twists and turns of her life’s tale could make some of the classic tragedies spun by dramatist extraordinaire Sophocles of ancient Greece appear less calamitous.
To be candid, ruminating on this woman’s chequered sojourn on earth invoked Figure it out for yourself, the title of one of scores of crime thrillers by James Hardly Chase; for, at the end of series of fragmetary sequences; you are still left wondering, if you got this one right.
Such was the variegated nature of this subject’s life that at some point, she served in the officer cadre of one of the nation’s armed forces only to die unloved and abadoned, and her corpse unwanted. This was a woman that actually lived overseas at some point; she apparently enjoyed the famed good, good life as a spinter; and, at the domestic level was married and had children.
Sadly, however, everything eventually went so kaputt that she died a lonely and forsaken woman. So unwanted was she, that her children and practically every other family member did not only shun her in the twilight of her life but denied her outright, when informed she had passed on and that her body was waiting to be claimed in a morgue in a neighbouring foreign country.
The deceased gave up the ghost a few minutes after midnight on May 2, 2011; and, her remains were immediately deposited at Morgue Le Pardon, the only funerarium in Djeregbe. Djeregbe stands roughly 10 minutes’ drive to Porto Novo, capital of Benin Republic; and, coming from Seme-Krake, near Nigeria’s extreme south-western frontier; Djeregbe is barely five minutes’ drive after turning right at Porto Novo roundabout.
The fees for leaving a corpse at this morgue is CFA2,000 (N700) per day, but after the first 10 days; the cost rises to CFA3,000 (N1,050) daily. Counting from May 2, the mortuary bills hit CFA20,000 by May 12. With CFA3,000 daily subsequently, by June 30 the bills had climbed another CFA147,000; bringing the total to CFA167,000 or N58,450 at the current exchange rate of N350 to CFA1,000. Furthermore, by July 20, the bill had risen by another CFA60,000 (N20,000 approximately), thus bringing the total to N78,450. Add CFA33,000 (about N12,000) for another 11 days to July 31; and, we were talking of over N90,000. By August 30, the figure had exceeded N120,000.
However, it must be pointed out that the woman’s offspring have not abandoned the body due to financial implication. The deceased was a very wealthy person, and the sale of a fraction of her estate will easily raise the money to pay off any bill accruing from her death and funeral.
It would therefore seem that the offspring’s rejection of any relationship with the dead woman arises from fear of exposure of kinship to one who was sick or worse still, for other reasons which; as some are wont to conjectutre, could even be considered sinister. If the contents of a video, we shall soon refer to, are anything to go by; the woman was initiated into a secret society sometime in 2005 by some juju worshippers in Akesan Town, Lagos.
In deed, the initiation was embedded in a house-warming ceremony. It is hard to say, whether or not she was conscious of what she was walking into at the time; for, even on film she was barely lively, instead of jubilant, whereas she was the celebrant of a house-warming ceremony. Interestingly, any one watching the recording of that event would immediately notice the absence of guests during the Lagos celebration; which contrasts sharply with what transpired, when she held a similar party in Djeregbe near Porto Novo in Benin Republic.
Truly, there are many twists and turns to this convoluted tale. Could a woman that died years ago in Nigeria die again in Benin Republic? Could someone or some people have done her in, in order to inherit her wealth? It is believed that apart from the house she owned near Porto Novo, the woman also had some landed properties in Lagos; receipts and building plans of such estates were found among her belongings, according to a reliable source. Interestingly, too; a receipt was found confirming she had secured a sepulchre for her burial in London, the same respondent added.
If documents reportedly found among her possessions are to be believed; there was hefty life insurance dividend to be picked by her heir in the event of her death. Is it possible that such dividend had since been claimed, while the woman was languishing in pain, misery and loneliness; whereas a funeral had been held for her?
If so, who collected such benefits; and, who signed her death certificate, and where was it issued? Where and when was she buried? Also, who organised a bogus funeral party to mark her departure from planet earth; when the woman was still alive?
Her health had deteriorated drastically over the week preceding her transition, but she wouldn’t stand any talk of going to see a doctor. However, late in the night of May 1, her condition was so bad and the woman so weak she couldn’t even protest, when one Isideen and another of her tenants put her atop a Zemidjan (a motorbike) to take her for urgent medical attention.
It would seem that workers at the first hospital the young men took the woman to refused to admit her and directed Isideen and co to take her elsewhere. All the while, the woman; sandwiched between the two men on the bike to prevent her from falling, had been panting profusely.
As the men rode toward another clinic, the woman suddenly exuded a loud sigh: she had just breathed her last. Alarmed, Isideen and his co-tenant started shouting “Mummy, Mummy”, but no response came; for the woman had given up the ghost. Now, instead of depositing her at a hospital, the young men were compelled to take the body to the only morgue in town.
For roughly five years, the lady lived in her storey building with five tenants in Quartier Yekponawa, not too far from Djeregbe’s Quartier Zongo neighbourhood. She called her house, which stands roughly 200 metres off the highway linking Cotonou to Porto Novo, La Ville Romuero. The highest-paying of the woman’s tenants was charged CFA15,000 (about N5,000) monthly. Three other tenants paid CFA10,000 (N3,500) each, monthly; while the rental for the fifth occupant was CFA7,000 (N2,300) for the same period.
Strangely, this landlady occupied the uncompleted upper floor of her two-floor house. This top floor was mostly unroofed and many rooms lack windows and doors, yet she chose to live in this quarter, while giving out the finished rooms on the ground floor to tenants. Curiously, she kept none of her valuables upstairs, where she lived.
Her belongings were divided between the rooms of two of her tenants, one of them Isideen. She occasionally ate in the rooms of these two tenants. Her moveable property included five sealed boxes, a few bags and other boxes that were not locked. It was inside one of these unlocked boxes that a video recording of the woman’s funeral, purportedly after her death decades ago, was found.
Sources told Daily Sun the woman probably suffered phychological, if not psychiatric, challenges years before her transition. Once, she had an acquintance called Samson; but, it would seem the woman sent him packing sometime before she died. Sadly, no one could locate Samson now; and, none was sure that even he had any clue as to the woman’s relations or friends. After parting ways with Samson, the woman neither went visiting anyone nor did anyone ever came to visit her for all the years that she lived in the compound.
No one remembered ever seeing her cook. “Mummy rarely ate any food”, said one respondent. One of her tenants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed she drank frequently: Guinness was her preferred brand, but when out of pocket; the woman settled for native gin. In fact, she showed signs of bloating a few weeks to her death, we were told.
Some respondents’ conjecture is that the late woman had at least two sons, whom; going by photographs taken decades ago must be above 40 years today. Among such people’s guess is that Mr. Percy (surname withheld) is a man believed to be one of her children. From this man’s first name, Percy, it would seem she had him for a Christian. However, there is another man, Ahmed, believed to be her son as well. It seems likely Percy and Ahmed were sired by different men.
One respondent told us, “Mummy spoke excellent French, English and Yoruba”; however, another throw-up of some that spoke with Daily Sun in and around Djeregbe was that the woman probably hailed from Calabar. They hinged their guess on the lady’s abhorrence of filth.
Further probe into the woman’s origins led to the discovery that her maiden name sounded like one from “the Calabar area”. Alhaji Yusuf Salami, President of Nigerian community in Porto Novo, who had accompanied local police personnel to the late woman’s house and the morgue, where her body was deposited; confirmed her maiden name hinted at Calabar origins. Unfortunately, Alhaji Salami said he could not recall that name.
He said that after being contacted, he had done the best he could as leader of the local Nigerian community and had properly briefed the Nigerian embassy of his findings. Subsequently, he had washed his hands off the matter; which now lay with the Nigerian embassy and Beninoise authorities. “If you want any information on this matter, please; go to the Nigerian embassy”: this was Alhaji Salami’s advise to us, when we contacted him on phone.
After deeper probes, we were at some point told that the deceased was Miss Margaret Ekanem Utip. We were also told that her husband’s grandfather was a half-caste, and the man’s white grandfather, Mr. Audifferen (first name not known) died in 1933. However, the most baffling of all is the 2005 ceremony in Lagos, celebrated as Warming of late Margaret Ekanem’s House.
In 1979, one Miss Omodele Ayo Audifferen, who lived at Number 1, Odo Ogun Close in South West Ikoyi; was a student of Federal School of Arts and Science (FSAS), Victoria Island, Lagos. A student’s ID card, signed December 12, 1979, carries the portrait of a pretty young lady that probably morphed into a charming woman.
While studying for her A Levels at FSAS, she was in the group MSD, which means she was of the Morning Session classes and that her subject combination was Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Successful products of FSAS SD groups usually went on to study medicine, pharmacy, biochemistry, life sciences and related courses.
And, going by leads; which include epaulettes that show the wearer went through the rank of Mid-Shipman before being promoted a Sub-Lieutenant, found among the deceased’s belongings, the late woman belonged to one of these professions. Moreover, she probably served in the Medical Corps of the Nigerian Navy, going by some leads. Could this be the late one, whose body is lying unclaimed in Porto Novo?
Interestingly, during the house-warming ceremony, dubbed House-warming ceremony of late Chief (Mrs.) Ekanem Audifferen; the woman was variously called Doctor and at least once addressed as Mrs. Abidu. In the same video, the said Mrs. Abidu was described as “the last child of late Chief (Mrs.) Audifferen”. This late Chief (Mrs.) Audifferen could well be one-time Miss Ekanem Utip, who hailed from Oku in Ikot Offiong, Calabar. Born in Beua, now known as Victoria, in Western Cameroon; the young Ekanem Utip had her primary education at Government Secondary School, Beua from 1933 to 1941.
The house in question stands at Number 10 Kassim Achiomu Street in Akesan Town, off LASU Road; going by the address found on the cartridge of a video recorded by SOAJ Video and Film Production, which in December 2005 gave its studio’s address as 220 Ijegun Road, Ile-Ibadan Bus stop in Ikotun, Lagos.
Curiously, a year after that purported posthumos housewarming took place, she turned up in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin Republic. It remains unclear, where she resided in those days; for Samson, who might know; having served the woman for years, could not be located. In any case, in 2006, she bought a house, which was still under construction in Djeregbe and made home there.
The late Mrs. Abidu was probably sibling with one-time Master Ekundayo Essien Audifferen, who was baptised on August 5, 1961 at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos. Ekundayo Essien Audifferen subsequently had his Confirmation and First Communion at the same church on June 4, 1978, a year before Omodele Ayo enrolled for Sixth Form studies at FSAS, Lagos. The duo were probably related to one Mr. S.B. Audifferen, resident of House 18, Nevern Rd, SW London; going by an address found on the envelop of a letter sent by one Dr. Audifferen from Number 10 Boyle Street, Lagos.

On Nigerian Embassy Cotonou
The unfolding saga of Nee Audiferen’s life and eventual death in Benin Republic as well as the fact that her body is still lying in a local morgue four months after her passage has once again thrown up doubts about the efficiency and diligence on the part of officials of Nigeria’s foreign missions.
It could be recalled that Nigerian Embassy Cotonou had come under severe criticisms in the past for its staffers’ lackadaisal attidtude to work. In deed, Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou was virtually loathed by all; Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa alike.
September 2 marked 120 days since the former Miss Audiferen died. Questions would be asked as to what the Nigerian Embassy Cotonou has done over the four-month period with regard to unveiling her identity and subsequently getting the dead woman’s relations to come and collect her body for burial.  
At least one official at Nigerian Embassy Cotonou had mooted the idea of selling the deceased’s woman’s house. The explanation for this seems to be to raise money to pay morgue fees and other bills, Daily Sun gathered from reliable sources.
However, perceived foot-dragging on the part of the local Nigerian mission in treating the matter has fuelled speculation that those contemplating the sale of the woman’s property had erected hedges to present access to information on the death woman. That way, according to conspiracy theorists, those hoping to reap where they did not sow could then sell the woman’s belongings at give-away prices to themselves under the excuse that no relative of the deceased could be traced.