Ten days after the murder of 24-year-old trader, Chetachukwu Lotanna, at Banjeko Memorial Plaza, Oshodi, Lagos State, for allegedly biting his fellow trader, no arrest has been made by the police as the leadership of the market union has also refused to report the case. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
The father of 24-year-old Chetachukwu Lotanna, a trader and children’s games repairer at Oshodi Market, while receiving the remains of his son in his compound in Uhu-Obo, Okija in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, vowed that those who murdered his son would pay with their blood. Initially, when he was contacted, Arusi Nkwo (Nkwo Deity), a dreadful native doctor in Uhu-Obo, expressed disbelief over what turned out to be the truth about his son’s death.
In his disbelief, the native doctor asked: “Are you sure it is my son that you are talking about? I don’t believe it because I didn’t see it coming, as there was no spiritual sign to warn me about such painful incident.
But if it’s my son, bring him back let me see.” When the corpse of the old man’s only son was taken to Anambra for burial, the agonising father said to those that brought the remains home: “I’m still waiting to hear what happened to my son. I have heard all you said but you people will be hearing from me when I have concluded matters with the gods. The killers of my son will pay with their blood!”
The 24-year-old Chetachukwu, popularly called Ewi, was clubbed to death by his co-traders at Banjeko Memorial Plaza, Oshodi, last Friday, for allegedly biting a co-trader. Chetachukwu, it was learnt, had his hands and legs tied with a dog chain, hung and then clubbed to death. Sunday Telegraph gathered that the late Cheta was beaten with various weapons.
After he was beaten mercilessly, he was left to die by his assailants who went about their normal businesses as if nothing had happened. Cheta only got temporary relief when two of his friends, Nnamdi Igbo and Sebastian Udoh, came to see the victim visit from nearby The Arena Market, Oshodi.
The duo ran to where Cheta was tied to rescued him but by the time they got there, it was too late, as he was already dead. Igbo, one of victims friends, who came visiting, said those who assaulted Cheta didn’t know the evil they did, until the victim was brought down from where he was kept after the beating. Igbo noted: “Where Cheta was killed was an isolated location at the upper terrace of the market building.
This place is meant for wholesale traders. People don’t go there in the early hours of the day. We were in the market and had no clue about what was happening until he was brought down to the street.
“When his colleagues found out that he was unconscious, they rushed him to the hospital. And while this was on, those who assaulted him still went about their businesses until his friends at the Arena Market brought his corpse back and started protesting his murder.
It was at this point, that traders at the scene of the crime shut their stalls,” he said. Cheta, was rejected at the Longlife Hospital, where he was first taken to by his friends, before they took him to the Ikeja General Hospital. He apparently gave up the ghost in the commercial taxi conveying us to hospital. Cheta’s friends said he was never known to be a thief or a troublesome person.
“He was a good man; they just wasted him for nothing. Some of his belongings are with us, his business laptop, bags, shoes and clothes,” Igbo said.
Recalling how he died, Nnamdi said: “I was at home at about 6:40am when my phone rang. When I answered, a friend said Cheta was acting as if he had lost his sanity at the plaza where he does his business. At that time, I was preparing to have my bath.
So as to get to him on time, I asked Sebastian, who was already dressed up for work to rush to the Plaza to see what was happening to our friend. “I was shocked to get a call from Sebastian that, the traders at the market were out to kill Cheta. I quickly rushed to the scene where I saw my friend’s hands and legs tied with a dog chain.
We untied him and quickly hired a tricycle ‘Keke’ to rush him to the Longlife Hospital. He was rejected here. Before he was moved to the hospital in Ikeja, Cheta’s boss that brought him to Lagos met us and demanded that we take him to his pastor for prayers.
“When we got to the church, the pastor refused to come down to see us. At this point, we hired a taxi and took him to the Ikeja General Hospital, where he was declared dead (BID). Cheta died in my arms from complications of internal bleeding.
The beating they gave him resulted in internal bleeding, so said the doctor that attended to him. “While taking him to the Ikeja General Hospital, his mouth was opened wide, he vomited blood. We were surprised to hear that he lost his sanity because Cheta never showed any sign of insanity before. Everybody is careful and cautious because his father is a dangerous native doctor in the East.”
When contacted, Cheta’s boss, Obinna said the incident was unbelievable, adding that, Cheta was a good and responsible bachelor.
“Everybody has their own faults, it is sad dening that Cheta was killed like a dog. I don’t have anything to say, only Cheta’s father decides on what he wants,” he added.
Though, the stalls where the crime took place had longed been locked up, yet Cheta’s murder has not been officially reported to the police for necessary investigations as at Thursday, one week after the crime was committed. The crime was carried out in such a manner that co-traders couldn’t say precisely what happened.
There were many versions of the incident, especially as the case was not officially reported to the police. The executives of the market are trying everything possiblenot to involve the police so as to sweep the matter under the carpet.
Surprisingly, majority of the traders at the plaza are claiming ignorance, despite doing the business there, to avoid being implicated during possible investigations which they know would commence any moment from now.
One of the traders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “When we got to the market that morning, we were told that Cheta had bitten some people after taking overdose of Indian hemp and alcohol. While, this was getting too much, two members of the Police Taskforce in the Oshodi Market simply called Alabi and Arinze, got some boys to beat the ‘madness’ out of Cheta.
They chained and eventually murdered him.” According to our impeccable source, Cheta’s killers took a wooden stool from one of the shop owners and violently smashed it several times on his head and other parts of his body. “He was chained and kept in the sun and only untied when he was at point of death. You needed to see the injuries he sustained. He was beaten mercilessly. He had a deep cut on his face and his head was broken.
The policemen and other Task Force members that came to the scene suddenly left after hearing the story. I can’t say why they left but the story is sympathetic, I guess,” the source added.
When the police was contacted to speak on the alleged involvement of two of their officers, Alabi and Arinze, in the murder case and to know if any arrest had been made concerning the incident, the Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the police do not have record of such incident.
“We have no such report. Which station was the case reported?” the police PPRO enquired. Confirming that the case has not been officially reported to the police, she added: “There must be an official report. It’s a murder case, so those concerned need not be told.”
Also, one of the traders, Akin Ogundele, corroborated the police’s PPRO’s statement, saying: “The case was not officially reported to the police.
When the incident happened, the first thing was to take him to a hospital. But when he was confirmed dead, his friends and co-traders quickly hired ambulance and took his corpse to his father in the village in Anambra State. Also, the market union executives obviously do not want to involve the police.”
Ogundele wouldn’t know why the incident was not reported to the police, but he quickly added that, it might be an oversight due to stress and the huge spending incurred hiring an ambulance to take Cheta’s corpe to Anambra State.
The late Cheta used to have his shop at the Owonifari Market, Oshodi. After the market was demolished, he started squatting with some of his traders friends at the Banjeko Memorial Plaza, until he moved to The Arena Military Market, Oshodi, and he shuttled between Arena and Banjeko Memorial Plaza.
“Cheta was not a troublemaker and he was very jovial. If money entered his hand, he would call his close friends and give them some drinks. He was a known face in Oshodi Market and I do not see what he did, that would warrant him being murdered in cold blood,” Sylvester Agiri, one of Cheta’s friends said.
He continued: “His murderers claimed that Cheta smoke an overdose of Indian hemp and started biting people, but we are yet to see anyone with the evidence that he was bitten by Cheta.
He was also accused of drunkenness, but I can say with all sincerity that Cheta wasn’t a drunk. “Before the incident that Friday morning, I saw him, and we had a handshake while exchanging greetings. He didn’t smell of alcohol, he was himself, yet he was chained and beaten to death by yet to be identified persons.
One of our friends who saw when Cheta was being beaten and tried to intervene was attacked by the assailants and he fled. The next thing we heard was that he was dead.
“Some people have tried to link Cheta’s death to spiritual manipulation, but I strongly disagree with that because if they manipulated him from the village, the people that killed him, under what manipulations were they? They claimed that the guy had been killed in the spiritual realm,” he added.
A trader and a shop owner, Igwe Mordi, confirmed that the late Cheta had never exhibited lunatic predisposition prior to the day he was beaten to death.
He wondered why Cheta was beaten to death in a market where virtually everybody knew him. “If not that his shop was demolished by the Lagos State Government, the evil that befell him would have been averted. He would have stayed in his shop doing his business without squatting with anybody, he would have been alive today,” he added. The market union has vowed to ensure Cheta’s killers are brought to justice.
By midweek, the Union executives held a meeting with one of them claiming that the case has been settle after the police made some arrests. On the contrary, the police told Sunday Telegraph that no single arrest had been made as the case has not been officially reported to them.
One of the female traders, who was in tears, Mrs. Bridget Offor, noted that the late Cheta stayed in front of her shop to do his business each time he came to the plaza and she wondered why the executives were so secretive about the incident. She added: “What I don’t understand is why our executive members are keeping the matter secret. This is a market place for God’s sake.
Go to that man you were speaking with; he has all the information you need. He is one of the executives and he can give you the chairman’s number. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to give you the chairman’s number. The murder occurred in their lane and his shop is the third shop next to the place it happened.
There was a report that two police officers attached to the Taskforce at the Oshodi Market, Arinze and Alabi, were those that ordered some boys to assault the late Cheta, an action that led to his death.”