Let’s face it; the world is a pretty dark place. Although many good things in life make us smile and have faith in the human race, the bad side also thrives. Thieves, liars, politicians, bigots, terrorists, etc. make up the bad side and at the top of the list are the murderers. But even murderers don't stand a chance against the No. 1 bad guys - serial killers. Yes, their acts repulse and disgust us, but we can’t deny our fascination with them. When you think of serial killers, the ones that come to mind are the famous masterminds like Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, Rosemary West or Sipho Thwala. Who are the Nigerian serial killers, you ask? Wonder no more. Rest assured that Nigeria is well represented in the serial killing community. While many have been apprehended over the years, others are still at large. Here are the stories of the worst serial killers in Nigerian history.
GRACIOUS DAVID WEST
Considered to be the worst serial killer Nigeria has ever seen, Gracious David West’s case shook the country to its core. He enjoyed a three-month killing spree that claimed the lives of 15 women in different states until his apprehension. West was born in 1980 into a polygamous family in Buguma, Rivers State, as the only child of his mother. He was a confirmed member of a notorious street gang that terrorized his community with criminal acts. Although records show that West started killing in June 2019, when he was arrested, he confessed to having killed several women before.
Overcome with an irresistible urge to kill, an unemployed and homeless West would drive around the streets of Port Harcourt, looking for women to spend the night with. He reportedly posed as a military officer and took his victims to cheap hotels without CCTV cameras. There, he had sex with them before robbing them of their valuables at knifepoint. To prevent his victims’ cries from being heard, he turned up the volume of the television or radio in the room before strangling them with his bare hands.
Gracious David West murdered fifteen women in the same way till he ran out of luck with his final victim/survivor. He took the 23-year-old sex worker to a hotel, where he tied her to a chair and raped her. The victim reported that even though she screamed for help, she was not heard over the volume of the TV and power-generating set that was close to their room. However, she kept begging him not to kill her. Fortunately, he listened and left the room immediately. The hotel staff rescued her the next day.
Gracious David West was arrested in the early hours of September 19, 2019, following the woman's complaint to the police. He confessed to killing nine women in Rivers state and six more in Abia, Imo, Lagos, and Oyo states. While shedding crocodile tears, he reportedly regretted his wrongdoing and even told the media about his earlier confession to his pastor, who invited him to a prayer crusade instead of reporting him. He was tried alongside a hotel owner, Nimi Thankgod, who allegedly dumped the body of one of the victims discovered in her hotel in a dumpsite. The judge dismissed her case and acquitted her, saying that she only disrespected the corpse.
In October 2020, after a lengthy trial that attracted a lot of media attention, West was convicted and sentenced to death for allegedly murdering nine women and attempting to kill one. Six previous murders were dismissed for lack of evidence. Two years after his trial, Gracious David West is still seeking an appeal for his sentence.
CLIFFORD NWA ORJI
This case is a more interesting and peculiar one. Clifford Orji was not only a serial killer but also a cannibal who was accused of murder, kidnap and sale of human body parts. He is regarded as the first known cannibal in Nigeria. Little is known about his upbringing. Clifford Orji was born in 1965 or 1966 in Enugu state but moved to Lagos where he lived under a bridge in Oshodi-Isolo. To make ends meet, Orji sold razor blades in the busy Oshodi Market till he quit to become a native doctor. He conducted his shady business in a makeshift shrine under the bridge and was reported to wander the streets, pretending to be insane.
For years, Orji managed to avoid attention to his lifestyle until February 3, 1999, when a shackled and dying woman was discovered near his abode. His screams attracted people, and upon investigation, they found decaying and cooked human body parts in his shack. After his arrest, Orji and his accomplice, Tahiru, confessed to kidnap, murder and cannibalism.
“We have been eating human meat for the past seven years before coming to Lagos. It is our culture to eat human meat. There is no difference between human and goat meat,” he told the press. He and his partner lured people, especially young hawkers to their shack under the pretext of buying their wares. There, they killed and cooked them for meat. They also revealed their preference - girls with permed hair.
A thorough search of his hideout unearthed human body parts and skulls in sacks and pots, clothes, a grill, foodstuffs to aid consumption of his preferred meat, a cheque for ₦80,000, and a mobile phone. The discovery of the money and phone, at a time when the G.S.M was not well established in the Nigerian market, suggested that his clients were wealthy people.
On December 7, 2000, Clifford Nwa Orji was arraigned before a Magistrate court and remanded for murder in Kirikiri prison. In April 2012, after 12 years without trial, he sued the Attorney-General of Lagos State for illegal imprisonment and lack of proper medication for his mental illness. He died four months later, on August 17, 2012, at the age of 46. An autopsy at the Isolo General Hospital revealed that he died of natural causes. The prison authorities made several unsuccessful attempts to contact his family, but it was difficult, since no one visited him in his 13 years there. At last, he was buried in the hospital.
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