Four men accused of complicity in last year’s murder of Miss Cynthia Osokogwu were yesterday arraigned before the Lagos High Court in Ikeja.
Okwumo Nwabufo, Ezike Olisaeloka, Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso were
arraigned before Justice Olabisi Akinlade on a six-count charge of
conspiracy, murder, stealing and negligence .
Nwabufo and Olisaeloka allegedly tricked the lady they met on
facebook to Lagos from Nasarawa State and strangled her in a hotel room.
They pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them. Their trail
commenced immediately, with the prosecution led by the state Attorney
General, Ade Ipaye, calling its first witness, Mrs Ifenyinwa Njegbu, a
receptionist at the hotel where the alleged murder took place.
Mrs Njegbu told the court how the first two defendants-Nwabufo and
Olisaeloka – who brought the lady to the hotel, escaped after allegedly
killing her. The witness said the duo escaped on the excuse that they
wanted to withdraw money from a nearby ATM.
Mrs Njegbu told the court that while on duty on saturday 21, July
2012, she checked in two guests, a man and a woman, who claimed to be a
couple into room C1 of the hotel at about 12am.
She said at about 8am while she was preparing to hand over to one of
her colleagues, Vivian Amule, the first two defendants informed her
through the phone that they were checking out.
“After I had handed over to my colleague, I asked her to check out
the couple since they had told me that they were leaving that morning,”
Mrs Njegbu said when she resumed duty the next day, her colleague
told her that the couple had left, but that a brother of the man had
taken over the room because the room was not going to expire until 12pm
of July 22, 2012.
She said she noticed that the brother of the man who had booked the room was still occupying the room.
She said while sitting at the reception, a man in brown long sleeve
shirt went straight into the bar with a brown bag and he was drinking.
When asked to describe the person she saw, she described the second
defendant (Olisaeloka) as dark in complexion, tall, young. She also
identified him as the second person in the dock who had on a pink polo
She told the court that after sometime she saw a man who is fair in
complexion that wore a dark sun glasses coming down from the upstairs
towards her, where the second defendant (Olisaeloka) in the bar met
with the first defendant (Nwabufor) at the reception and they went out
together before she stopped him because it is the normal thing to do,
especially when the person did not officially lodge in the hotel.
The witness said they didn’t return until around 3pm, when someone
called the intercom phone of the hotel and identified himself as the
occupant of room C1, revealing that he is not going to return to the
hotel, saying “ you people should remove the idiot from the room.”
Mrs Nejgbu said she replied that sir “but you promised to come back
and pay for the room”, the only thing he did was to drop the phone.
“Immediately I called the manager and explained what had happened. So
he told me that if he didn’t come back the girl will pay for the C1
room, so he told me to call the room through the company’s intercom
phone and I called but there was no response.
“The manager, Mr Victor, went upstairs and said he knocked at the
door and there was no response, so he told me to take the master key
since am a lady like her that I should go and open the door, so I went
upstairs to the room and knocked severally and there was no response, so
I used the masters key to open the door and I met the deceased Cynthia
naked on the bed, with one of her legs touching the ground in room C1
and I was shocked and shouted Jesus.”
She added that she rushed down to inform the manager, who went upstair to identify the corpse.
She added that the next thing was that she saw policemen who called
all of them on duty to identify those they saw through the CCtv in the
She further said that she was able to identify the first and second
defendants and the police took them to “Area E” police station where
their statements were taken.
She said two weeks later, someone called the hotel and asked for the
details of Cynthia, the deceased, if she lodged in the hotel,
identifying himself as the deceased’s brother.
She said it was not in the practice in the hotel to disclose details of their customers.
The state alleged that two of the defendants, Okwumo and Ezike, on or
about 22 July, 2012 at Cosmilla Hotel, Amuwo-Odofin, Festac Town,
conspired to murder Cynthia.
The state also alleged that the defendants murdered Cynthia by
administering Rohypnol Flunitrazepan tablet into her drink, chained her
hands and legs and strangled her to death.
The duo were also alleged to have stolen three blackberry phones
valued at N150,000, jewelries, an international passport and a driver’s
licence belonging to Cynthia after they strangled her to death.
Orji Osita, the third suspect, was charged for negligently of selling
the Rohypnol Flunitrazepan tablets to Ezike, the second defendant,
without a doctor’s prescription and without showing due care.
Ezike Nonso, the man who allegedly bought Cynthia’s stolen blackberry
Bold 5 was charged for being in possession of a stolen phone.
Lawyers to the third and fourth defendants, Orji Osita and Ezike
Nonso, the pharmacist and the man who bought Cynthia phone respectively
applied for their bail.
Ruling on the bail, Justice Akinlade ordered that third defendant
should continue with the N1million bail granted him at the lower court.
The judge also granted the fourth defendant bail in the sum of N2million with two sureties.
She ordered that one of the sureties must be a Grade Level 14 civil
servant resident in Lagos with proof of three years’ tax payment.