In this article we are going to be looking at a historical event that took place in Owerri in the late 90s and early 2000s when Otokoto, a deadly ritualist was apprehended and executed in Owerri, Imo state. And this man was one of the evil men that gave bad name to the Igbos which made people from other tribes in Nigeria to think that every rich Igbo man is a ritualist. So we are going to look deep into the biography, history and documentary of Otokoto and how he was apprehended and executed in Owerri, Imo state.
If you are Igbo and born before the millennium, you would definitely know about the untold story of Chief Vincent Duru, alias, Otokoto who was infamous for ritual killings. His son Obidiozor Duru then was the kingpin of the notorious Black Secret Cult that was responsible for sporadic robberies and abduction of children within Owerri axis in Imo State. In fact, following rumours of the nefarious activities of the Otokoto family, Owerri residents subjected the Otokotos under the radar and surveillance.
It is said there is no smoke without fire. Also, when the wind blows, the ruff of the fowl is exposed. On the 19th of September, 1996, Otokoto was incriminated. His dirty linens were washed outside, his exotic hotels, ‘Otokoto hotels’ were razed down. He was incarcerated and later executed 20 years after indictment.
Who Implicated Him? It all happened in the capital city of Owerri, Imo State on the 19th of September, 1996 when an 11-year-old innocent boy named Anthony Ikechukwu Okoronkwo was murdered for ritual. The young boy was a groundnut hawker who frequent the streets of Owerri to sale his groundnuts. On that fateful day, he was walking past Otokoto hotels, when a man identified as Innocent Ekeanyanwu at Otokoto hotels, aged 32, beckoned on him to come.
Unsuspectingly, the young lad excitedly went into the hotel to sell his groundnut and was treated like a guest. He was given a bottle of chilled Coca-Cola which he chugged down with relish. Sadly, the drink was spiked and soon, the poor boy slipped into everlasting unconsciousness.
Innocent Ekeanyanwu then carried the limp body of Anthony Ikechukwu into one of the hotel rooms and what follows after is what both the gods and human beings forbid. He decapitated the boy’s head, ripped open his abdomen, harvested his liver, and cropped off his penile tip. He selected other organs he needed and stacked them together in a polythene bag and buried his remains in a shallow grave near the hotel.
How People Got To Know? After burying the ill-fated lad, he immediately left the hotel to deliver the head to a big cat, named Chief Leonard Unaogu at Eziama, Ikeduru, near Owerri. Blood was still oozing from the bag when he alighted which stirred the suspicion of the Okada man identified as Mr Hilary Ngọzi Opara.
Innocent Ekeanyanwu could not deposit the head as Chief Unaogu had already left the town for Lagos. Remember the year was 1996 and there were no mobile phones then. He had to go back to Owerri with the head. The bikeman quickly tipped the policemen and they intercepted Ekeanyanwu on his way back to Owerri in a Peugeot 505. Hell was let loose when the news spread. The media even fueled it as they beamed live Innocent Ekeanyanwu carrying the fresh head of little Anthony Ikechukwu.
The people of Owerri went berserk when they beheld the agony sight. They all trooped out in their numbers to Otokoto hotel for protest. The hotel buildings were razed down completely. They equally marched to the palatial mansion of Otokoto nearby and destroyed his expensive cars and expensive properties. The unstoppable protesters equally went round destroying other properties linked to Otokoto, even those of his friends.
During further investigations, Mr Innocent Ekeanyanwu who was later identified as a gardener in Otokoto hotel was remanded in prison. Surprisingly, he died four days later from food poisoning. Luckily before he croaked, he was able to confess. He implicated Chief Unaogu as the mastermind behind the brutal killing of Anthony Ikechukwu.
In fact, they ran a killing syndicate which specialized in kidnapping and harvesting of human organs for rituals. According to him, Chief Unaogu had directed him to get the human head. He further confessed that Otokoto and his gang had been in the business as far back as 1970’s. The guests at his hotel were not spared too. They were drugged or attacked in the middle of their sleep after which they were dismembered and their organs plucked.
The police swung quickly into action and discovered tens of shallow graves in Otokoto hotel. More than 24 decomposing and dismembered bodies of human beings were exhumed. Chief Unaogu was immediately arrested but he blatantly denied knowing whom Innocent Ekeanyanwu was. At that time Chief Unaogu has power and influence. He was the younger brother of Laz Unaogu, a then serving minister under General Sani Abacha.
Trial properly commenced on the 9th of December, 1996 with the Okada man, Ngọzi Hilary Opara as the first prosecution witness. Other witnesses came up which include: Ambrose Onah, a police sergeant who recorded the confessional statement of Innocent Ekeanyanwu before he was mysteriously killed, Margaret Acholonu, a receptionist in the hotel who confessed that Chief Vincent Duru AKA Otokoto was actually in the hotel the day poor Anthony Ikechukwu was beheaded.
Another police sergeant, Sunday Onwuchekwa told the court that Innocent Ekeanyanwu had lied about the crime scene. According to Sunday Onwuchekwa, Innocent Ekeanyanwu had told them he executed poor Ikechukwu and dumped his dead body inside Mba River near Owerri just to mask the actual crime scene. The police was deceived at first with the false trail before information reached them about the commotion at Otokoto hotel.
It was even reported that Chief Vincent Duru AKA Otokoto had shouted at Innocent Ekeanyanwu during the course of the investigation before he was murdered. Otokoto screamed at him in Igbo, ‘I mebo la m?’ meaning ‘Have you implicated me?’
The sorrowful mother of the poor lad, Laeticia Okoronkwo, Sulaiman Idris Ibe and the police officer where on seat when Hilary Opara the Okada man came to testify, another police photographer and Ralph Nwaiwu, the doctor that performed autopsy on poor Anthony Ikechukwu all testified in court.
The case snailed on without progress for three years as there were series of adjournments, absence of presiding judges and lawyers even to the transfer and retirement of judges. There were reports about the preferential treatment given to Chief Unaogu because he was the Minister’s brother. The case was stalled until Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, a powerful and fearless judge, took over the case on 28th April, 1999.
She sentenced the seven suspects linked to the murder of Anthony Ikechukwu to death. Their names were; Chief Vincent Duru (Otokoto), Alban Ajaegbu, Samson Nnamito, Ebenezer Egwueke, Lawrence Ebu, Rufus Anyanwu and Chief Leonard Unaogu.
In fact, while delivering her judgments, Justice Nwosu-Iheme referred Otokoto and Unaogu as hardened and unrepentant murderers and highly-sophisticated criminals. She said that the blood of poor Anthony Ikechukwu must be a very strong and powerful one that screamed to God in high heavens for vengeance.
After her epic judgement, all the convicts were taken to Port Harcourt Prisons in February, 2003 pending their execution. Their lawyers kept on appealing the judgments which was futile as the sentence of execution was still upheld.
Finally twenty years after the inglorious saga, Otokoto was hanged. His execution took place on Sunday, November 13, 2016. Chief Unaogu on his part died in Port Harcourt prisons in very mysterious circumstances.
Otokoto was later described by the media as the most heartless ritualist in history. Otokoto was a ritualist for 30 years until blood of poor Anthony Ikechukwu cried for vengeance and that was how he was apprehended and executed. He gave Igbos a bad name and made Nigerians from other tribes to see Igbos as ritualists.