Vanguard (Lagos)

23 February 2013

Nigeria: Fear in Lagos Suburb As Mass Killer Still At Large

Residents of Igando area of Lagos State are still reeling in shock over the penultimate Saturday murder of eight persons during a shooting spree by a lone gunman who attacked the home of his girlfriend, killing her and seven other members of the family.

The incident, which threw the entire area into disarray, has reinforced a sense of insecurity among residents who have resorted to staying indoors and refrained from speaking with strangers.

Strangers are now viewed with suspicion and any attempt at inquiring into the incident would attract hostility. But those who managed to speak to Sunday Vanguard lamented the failure of the police from apprehending the gunman who has allegedly threatened to carry out more attacks on members of his late girlfriend's family.

"We now live in fear; we don't know how a man could come all the way from Delta State with a rifle and wipe out two families without anybody doing something about it. I read in the papers that the man is threatening to kill more people. I wonder why he is still on the loose and why he has not been apprehended yet," a resident, who identified himself as Rashidi, said.

Time was 10 pm on Saturday, 16 February, 2013, when the gunman, later identified simply as Henry, stormed the home of one Mr. Ekene Ozor, where his girlfriend, Sandra Ijedinma, was staying with her elder sister, Praise Ozor, at Ishitinu area of Igando, with an AK-47 rifle. Mrs. Ozor, children and siblings were preparing to go to bed when Henry allegedly entered their apartment.

Some of the victims during shooting spree

Katharine, Sandra's twin sister, and two of Mrs Ozor's children, Happiness and Bethel, on sighting Henry, were said to have stood up to welcome him into their apartment, but he greeted them with volleys of gunfire from his assault rifle, killing the children on the spot, while Katharine escaped. He then, according to an eye witness, moved in to killing his girlfriend, Sandra, who was lying on a couch in the living room. He shot her severally and left her in a pool of blood before going after Mrs. Ozor, a seven-month-old pregnant woman.

However, Mrs. Ozor, out of bravery, made a last ditch effort to save her life as she sprang from the living room with her last child, Victory, and made for the door. But Henry, out for more blood, went after her and shot her from behind. She ran further before she allegedly collapsing in front of her bed room where Henry caught up with her and fired more shots at her, but Mrs Ozor wrapped around Victory and prevented her from being hit by the bullets.

Not yet satisfied, Henry went to the home of Mrs. Ngozi Odia, one of his girlfriend's elder sisters; also living within the area, and killed her alongside her three children: Angela, Chidinma and Chinenye.

But before escaping, the suspect made a call to Mr. Ekene Ozor, the man whose home the assailant had visited to wipe out his family, and who runs a popular bar in the area, and threatened to kill him. According to Ozor: "I was surprised when I received the call. He said, 'this is not Sandra's boyfriend. I am coming for you. Anywhere you are, I must get you.'

I asked him, 'who are you and what is the threat for?', but he switched off the phone." Startled, Ozor said he quickly called his wife, Sandra and Katherine. Although their phones rang, none of them answered. I had to call my landlord and he told me that something tragic had happened in my flat and that I should come home immediately."

Katharine has told the police that Henry was her slain twin sister's boyfriend who is familiar with everyone in their family but nobody knew he was a kidnapper.

A source said: "She (Katharine) told us that her late sister used to visit the boyfriend, Henry, at his base in Delta State and, during one of such visits two weeks ago, some heavily armed men stormed Henry's apartment manhandling Sandra in the process.

"She added that the armed men reportedly told Sandra that her lover absconded with their share of the ransom paid to them for one of their kidnapping exploits, threatening to wipe out all his (Henry's) family members if he did not pay the money.

"Thereafter, Sandra contacted her family members in Lagos, informing them of what happened to her and they rushed to Delta State and brought her to Lagos for medical treatment. But while she was receiving the treatment, Henry, feeling betrayed, stormed their Lagos home. She told us that the moment Henry entered their apartment; her sister's children welcomed him without knowing that he was out to kill them".

Lagos State Police Command has vowed to apprehend Henry as detectives from the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Lagos, have taken over investigations into the killings.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that a crack team of operatives at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja have been detailed by the state commissioner of police, Umar Manko, to assist the homicide detectives in tracking the suspect.

Sources disclosed that the homicide detectives and their counterparts at SARS are not limiting their search for the suspect to Lagos State. They said the Lagos police were collaborating with the Delta Command to apprehend the suspect.

A police source blamed their inability to apprehend the suspect on the night of the incident on their failure to pinpoint his exact location after the attack.

"We knew he was within the area after the attack because we had the entire area under lockdown. Also all entry and exit points within the state were sealed with policemen. But our problem at that time was that we couldn't pinpoint his location. We suspected he could be in one of the hotels in the state waiting for the dust to settle before fleeing. No body also knew the registration number of the SUV he drove", the source stated.

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