Cynthia and the suspects
| credits: Eniola Akinkuotu
One of the suspects recently arrested for allegedly driving Cynthia Osokogu’s suspected killers to Cosmilla Hotel, FESTAC has denied the allegation.
The suspect, Gideon Okechukwu, said he was an unregistered cab driver that usually operated within FESTAC area of Lagos State.
Cynthia was said to have been lured to Lagos by Okwumo Nwabufo and picked up at the Murtala Muhammed Airport from where she was taken to the hotel where she was allegedly killed by Nwabufo and his 23-year-old cousin, Olisaeloka Ezike.
According to police detectives, Okechukwu was the one who allegedly drove Nwabufo and Cynthia to the hotel.
During interrogation, Nwabufo had said his modus operandi was to lure ladies to hotels in FESTAC where he would drug his victims and steal from them. The police alleged that Okechukwu usually drove Nwabufo and also aided him in escaping from crime scenes.
Okechukwu however said he and Nwabufo were not friends. He said he was an unregistered cab driver that had been hired by Nwabufo to drop him off on four occasions, adding that their relationship was strictly business in nature.
He said, “I am an unregistered cab driver and I usually operate at night. I attempted to join the cab association in FESTAC but they rejected me because my vehicle is too old. Nwabufo and I exchanged phone numbers after I rendered service to him the first time.
“So, he used to call me to pick him up and drop him off in front of his estate in FESTAC. He usually paid me N1,000 if I took him outside FESTAC while he paid me N600 within FESTAC. I took him to Yaba once and he paid me N2,000.
“On the day the lady (Cynthia) arrived Lagos, I wasn’t the one that went to pick her up. I’ve never seen her before. My vehicle cannot even go to the airport because if you’re not a registered cab driver you cannot go the airport let alone my rickety Mazda 1986 model. No high class person would even agree to board my car.
“On the Sunday that the lady was allegedly killed, I went to church. I am a Jehovah’s Witness and after attending church service on Sunday, I go from house to house preaching. I’ve never carried Nwabufo with anybody before. He didn’t even know my name and I didn’t know his until I met him in police custody. In fact, his name was stored as A1 Close on my telephone because all I used to do was to drop him in front of A1 Close where he claimed to live.”
Narrating how he was implicated and arrested by the police, the driver said the police detectives ordered Nwabufo to call him on the telephone and Nwabufo told him to come and pick him up as usual.
He said, “On August 20, Nwabufo called me on the phone that I should come and take him to University of Lagos. He said I should come and pick him up at A1 Close as usual. I didn’t know that he was being used by the police to lure me. When I arrived there, I was immediately arrested.
“During investigation, the Area E Commander told Cosmilla Hotel Staff to point out the people who came to the hotel on the day of the incident. The staff picked out the two prime suspects (Nwabufo and Olisaeloka). I’ve never been to the hotel before and I didn’t appear on the CCTV.”
The driver however said on the same day Osokogu was killed, he had gone to pick up Nwabufo on the road not too far from the hotel but did not know at the time that any murder had been committed.
Nonso Ezike, Olisaeloka’s younger brother, also told PUNCH Metro that he had no hand in the murder.
Although the police recovered Osokogu’s stolen BlackBerry phone from Nonso, the 22-year-old said his brother asked him to sell the phone, adding that he did not know that it was stolen.
The graduate of Mathematics and Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, said, “I finished last November and I was supposed to start my National Youth Service Corps programme with the next batch in November 2012. Pending the time, I decided to go into selling of phones.
“I bought a BlackBerry Torch phone at Ladipo Market at a cheap price of N37, 000. So, I thought I could be making profit by buying and selling phones. I would take pictures of BB phones and upload them on my Facebook page along with the price list.
“In July, my brother (Olisaeloka) brought a white Bold 5 BB (Cynthia’s phone) and told me it was for Nwabufo and that he wanted to sell it. The phone memory was wiped off while the external memory card was missing. I didn’t know the phone was stolen and I sold it for N68, 000 to a man in Port Harcourt and I sent it through courier.”