When a rig worker, Bankole Charles met 28-year-old Ms Loretta Odikagbo on Badoo, a social media platform in 2013, he did not know he had started a relationship that would end his life. Their relationship flourished until it came to a stormy end on September 19, last year.
Before them, the bond had gone sour when Ms Odikagbo, at the peak of her affection for the man, discovered he was married with children. The news did not go down well with her.
When she confronted the late Charles, who hailed from Ondo State, he confirmed it and allegedly promised her a car as settlement.
However, for whatever reason, he failed or was unable to keep to his promise leading to a chain of events that culminated in his unfortunate end.
Ms Odikagbo, an Ordinary National Diploma holder in Marketing from the River State Polytechnic (RIVPOLY), confirmed in an interview at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) last week that in company of some accomplices, she stormed the Woji, Port Harcourt residence of her estranged lover, who was an employee of Halliburton Nigeria Limited, under the cover of dark and killed him.
She was not found out until a team of four policemen led by Mr. Joseph Okpamen, an Inspector, of the Homicide Department of the SCID, busted the gang and forced them to break their covenant to maintain sealed lips over the killing. The SCID team first traced Ms Odikagbo to the residence of her other boyfriend whom she was putting up with at Rumukpokwu, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area on December 10, last year.
Police discovered that she did not execute the heinous job alone. She reportedly went there with 30-year-old Ime Francis Moses (Jr), a university dropout and native of Eket in Akwa Ibom State, and another accomplice, a tout.
Ms Odikagbo and Ime are cooling off their heels in police cells. The tout is still at large, but the police have vowed to arrest him at all cost.
Ms Odikagbo told Niger Delta Report: “I was arrested over the death of my boyfriend Late Charles Bankole. I conspired with my friend and took my in-law to his house to harass him so I could get some money from him, which led to his death; but I was not there when he died, I was at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM). There is a third person that can tell the story of how he died but unfortunately, he has not been arrested. So, he is not here now. This story can’t be complete if the third person is not arrested.
“I am 28 years. I met Bankole on the internet. I initially did not know that Bankole was married; overtime I discovered. He actually promised to settle things with me. He talked about buying a car. When I hinted this to my in-law (Ime), he said he had a way to help me get what I wanted from him and I conceded to the idea.
“On the agreed day, I moved into Bankole’s house and waited for them there. He came with another of his friend. I opened the door for them. They came in. His junior started tying Bankole up. Ime was holding a torch which they came with because this happened in the night and there was no electricity supply and it was raining heavily.
“At a point, I decided to go to the ATM with his (Bankole’s) card to withdraw some money from his bank account. One of the two men decided to go with me. So, my in-law (Ime) was left behind with Bankole who was still alive when we left.
“He (Ime) later met me at the ATM point to get some money from me. He informed me that he called a taxi driver to carry some things from Bankole’s house (supposedly some of his property). I told him that I was going because it was already late at night.
“I was arrested on December 10, brought here (at the SCID), and showed picture of lifeless body of Bankole. I don’t know who killed him. The relationship lasted for over a year. I am not so certain because we related a long time on the internet before we met in real life.”
Asked if Bankole ever promised to marry her, she said: “No, we never discussed marriage.”
On why she was enraged when she found out he was married, she said: “I was not actually angry, but he did not just tell me he was married. At a point we were serious with the relationship but when I discovered his marital status, I was disappointed and decided to pull out to continue with my life but he insisted on buying me a car instead to calm me down. That was what happened.”
Asked how she was able to get her victim’s ATM card and pin, Ms Odikagbo said: “He gave me his ATM card and pin number under duress. He told me that he had N130, 000 in that account, but I got N120, 000 from the account.
“I am a student of Bori Polytechnic in the Department of Marketing. I have just completed my OND and about to go for my HND. I did one year internship with NARUFUS Inter-Bricks Company.”
Expressing remorse over the incident, she said: “I feel so terrible and primitive. I am guilty of the crime. Bankole was my first internet boyfriend; I am not used to meeting people on the internet or Facebook. I blame my action on hanging out with wrong friends.”
The Eket-born Ime disclosed that he dropped out of the university after securing his admission with a forged certificate, adding that he was conscripted by Ms Odikagbo for the dirty deal.
“Loretta called and informed me that her boyfriend owed her some money, which he was supposed to use and settle her out of their broken relationship but he was turning her up and down.
“I promised to help her get the money out from the man. On the day agreed, she called me and picked me up at my street junction, from where we proceeded to pick another boy she had earlier called for the job, but the boy came and declined going with us. On our way out from the boy’s junction, we met another boy who I know that loads taxi at the junction there. I called him and she explained to him what she wanted to do that night; he agreed to go with us.
“When we got to the man’s house, she went in while we stood under the staircase of the one-storey building he shared with other occupants, waiting for her instructions. I was holding a torch light which she gave me money to buy and a holding a car window winder, which looked like a gun, while the boy was holding a rope and cellotape she brought.
“After a while, she came and opened the door for us. We got in through the kitchen, where we stood before she called us to come to the bedroom where she was with the man.
“When we stepped into the room, I pointed the torch light on the man and told him that he befriended our sister for such a period of time, and pushed her out empty and without shelter, no settlement.
“The man pleaded that we should wait, that he was going to settle her. At that point, she started to slap the man all over his face and used the tape to tape his mouth, after which the other boy tied his legs and hands.
“It was then she asked the man for his ATM card and pin; she got them and went to the ATM point with the boy, while I was left with the man in case the pin failed. While they left for the ATM, they carried the man’s phone and laptop.
“After a while, she came back to me at the man’s house. I asked her to come let us go, she said, ‘no’, that the man knows her very well, that if we should leave him at this junction, he will definitely come after her, and that when he gets her, she will mention my name. She asked if I will like to be arrested, I said ‘no’.
“She now went to the man’s kitchen and brought polythene bag which she wore on the man’s head and sat on it. As the man was struggling, I held his head until the man was motionless.”
Asked how much he was paid for the job, Ime said: “It was not a job, but an assistance I rendered to Loretta. I tried to persuade her to leave the man at the point we had tortured him, but she insisted on going down with me if the man comes after her. She gave me N28, 000 only. I feel very guilty for the action.”
Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) Ahmad Mohammad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said: “I want to use this opportunity to warn members of the public to be careful with friends they got through social media; because these are people you do not know their background, and upbringing. There are so much you may never know about them.
“Again, I want to appeal to members of the public to continue to co-operate with us the way they helped us in arresting these suspects, Loretta and Ime. I want to assure members of the public to continue to repose confidence on the police. We have all that it takes to investigate matters beyond the imagination of common Nigerian, like what happened in this case. There was nothing to trace these people with but they were tracked and arrested.”