Port Harcourt: Serial Killer On The Loose?

September 17, 2019

Ever watched one of those Hollywood movies with serial killers doing serial killer shit and just started shuddering? Movies like Seven and The Silence of Lambs? From troubled childhoods to bouts of insanity or using a particular motif, serial killers in movies usually have a very peculiar pattern that boils down to a “why” and“how”. Surely, everybody knows this.

That’s why it’s crazy that with the news of a serial killer on the loose, the Nigeria Police quickly concluded (without public evidence to back it up) that the victims were prostitutes in a tone that said, “Oh, look, they don’t really need protection.” As if that wasn’t enough, they advised women to desist from prostitution. And that’s all they could say.

Let’s back it up a little bit for context:

  • It started in late July, or early August. Different accounts tell it differently. It was in a hotel in Olu Obasanjo Road, Abia State; a man strangled a 23-year-old woman, Maureen Ewuru. When the news came out initially, the police said the prime suspect was her boyfriend. They also assumed it was an isolated event, but more events sprang up to prove that there’s really really likely a serial killer on the loose. 

“After having sex with her, he locked the room and took flight but unfortunately for him, he left a trace which is helping us in our investigation”

– The Nigerian police.
  • A few days later, this time in Owerri, Imo State, a hotel attendant found the dead body of a woman under a bed in one of the hotel rooms they had to clean. Apparently, the woman had come in with a man on a Saturday, and by the next day, she was dead and the man was nowhere to be found. There was evidence that sex had taken place; whether it was consensual or not remains a mystery, but the police again concluded that the man in question had to have been her lover. 
Hotel in Woji, GRA
  • A week later, and two weeks after the very first incident, another woman was found dead in a hotel in Woji, GRA phase one in Port Harcourt. Like Maureen Ewuru, she was strangled to death. It was at this point that the police started to suspect that it might be more than a “boyfriend kills girlfriend” type situation. In this case, the man took everything that could be used to identify her: from her clothes to her phone.
  • The most interesting part of all of this is that there’s a pattern. With the bodies of the women strangled in Port Harcourt, a white cloth (in some reports referred to as a handkerchief) was tied around their necks. 
  • At a march organised to protest the killings at the police headquarters, the deputy commissioner of police in Port Harcourt, Chuks Envonwu told the protesting women to advise their fellow women to not go into prostitution because it’s only prostitutes that can fall victim of this crime. Wild right? Maybe not so much. If you step out of your bubble once in a while, it’s easy to realise that this is how the average Nigerian man thinks. 
  • However, Soibi Ibibo Jack the woman who organised the protest gave it back to him. She told BBC that while the women killed were not sex workers, the lives of sex workers also matter. In her words, “They’re human beings and need protection too.” We stan. 
  • Only a few days after this protest, on September 15, another death was recorded. A woman died in a motel in Rumuola area in Port Harcourt in another quite similar death by strangulation. While the chairman of Nigeria Hotels Association Rivers State Chapter, Eugene Nwauzi has said that they’re working with the Police, DSS and State Government to stop this menace, it’s quite sad that these many women have to die before more action is put in place.
  • What are the police doing? They claim to be investigating while going around calling the victims prostitutes and prioritising the investigation of a parody @policeng account on Twitter. 
  • As it is, there are unconfirmed reports of the suspected ways in which the women must have been lured to the hotel. One Twitter user posted a broadcast message. The woman in the message narrated her experience with another woman who wanted to purchase some products she sold. The female buyer called her over the phone and told her to deliver the products to a hotel in Port Harcourt. When she got to the reception of the hotel, the female buyer told her to come up to her room. Remembering that a serial killer was on the loose, she decided to run for her life.

It’s only a theory, but who knows? 

Is it a gender war? Maybe, maybe not. There have been arguments about this all of last weekend, and theories about the motive of the serial killer. But what is clear so far is that women are being targeted, and by the definition of the term serial killer, the victims often have something in common: their demographic profile, appearance, gender or race. Reporting this story and seeing so many unconfirmed accounts and rumours made us wonder: just how many deaths from the hands of this serial killer have gone unreported? We do hope the police start acting right.

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