The untold story of The Otokoto Money Ritual Killings of 1996

One Thursday more than 20 years prior, on the nineteenth of September 1996, during the severe system of the late General Sani Abacha, something occurred in Nigeria that stunned the whole world.

In the generally quiet and tranquil city of Owerri, capital of the nation’s southeastern territory of Imo, a 11-year-old kid named Anthony Ikechukwu Okoronkwo was wandering his way through the avenues of the city with his valuable plate of product energetically adjusted on his head. The young man was peddling bubbled groundnuts, which was his daily schedule, the equivalent denounced predetermination for many other Nigerian children today. In any case, in his puerile guiltlessness, the young man was just doing what he was requested to do by his folks.

He walked around, offering his groundnuts for peanuts to whoever needed to purchase. At the point when he got to Amakohia zone of Owerri, his eyes lit up with satisfaction as a client coaxed on him to approach. That ‘client’ was named Innocent Ekeanyanwu, matured 32.

The kid was called into the renowned Otokoto Hotel and the little groundnut dealer was obviously energized, since it was a lodging, it implied that the new ‘client’ would most likely be purchasing bounty groundnuts which will mean more cash to bring home to make his folks cheerful and help his battling family. As he walked into the focal anteroom and meeting room of the lodging, he more likely than not given an adorable innocent grin as he was advised to sit and hold up a piece. While pausing, the kid was dealt with like a visitor, he was given a container of Coca-Cola to chill from the rebuffing warmth of tropical Africa. As each blameless kid of his age would respond, he immediately took the container of Coke and swallowed it down with relish.

For some, Nigerian children, drinking a container of Coca-Cola inside the entryway of a lodging was in excess of a fantasy work out as expected. Caused to feel at home, he probably been considering how decent his new and uncommonly responsive clients were. As he was tasting his soda pop and investigating the sparkling encompassing of the lodging, he could have envisioned having his very own inn excessively later on. As he was dreaming, his vision got hazy and the sounds around him became gagged and dull. Surprisingly fast, he snoozed off, never to wake up again. His plate loaded with groundnuts was lying in a corner.

Watching the kid from a sheltered separation was the man who had called him to purchase his groundnuts. He had spiked the kid’s beverage and once he saw he was sleeping, he took the limp body of the sedated chap into one of the lodgings and what followed next stays one of the most shrewd things anybody can ever cook up. A sharp cutlass rose up out of no place and the kid’s head was cut off from his body. He was decapitated surprisingly fast. Bystanders outside the lodging had positively no clue about what was happening inside the ‘high-forehead’ inn. After the kid’s head was cut off, they continued to eviscerate his middle and evacuated his liver and different parts they required. They were not done at this point, his privates were not saved too. After he was finished butchering the kid, he sifted through the organs, stuffed his head inside a polythene pack and they made a shallow grave where they briskly covered his disfigured remains. obviously, the kid’s folks some place in the city had no clue their son had quite recently been frightfully killed. Ekeanyanwu then took the polythene sack containing the head and set out toward the following goal: to the place of the man who required the new head.


At the hour of its reality, Otokoto Hotel was situated in an upscale territory of Owerri, explicitly the Amakohia side, and it was a most loved area for the rich and well off young people to meet, drink and have all habits of fun. Duru’s inn was comprised of three structures, (three, five and six stories every, one behind the other). It was claimed by Chief Vincent Duru, the dad of Obidiozor Duru, the pioneer of the Black Scorpions mystery clique answerable for a spate of burglaries and hijacking of kids in the state. All of Owerri set the Durus under their radar and reconnaissance, with bits of gossip everywhere about their detestable exercises.

Foundation TO THE story

Prior to this unpleasant episode, the individuals of Owerri (Ndi Owerre) were at that point exceptionally distraught at the strange activities of some boisterous, amazingly incredible and vulgarly well off people in the state. These individuals were exceptionally associated and mistreated everybody where they went. Bits of gossip were everywhere with respect to their dim dealings and even the chance of ceremonial homicides and killings however nobody truly had any hard proof yet or presumably the individuals who had it were too nervous to even consider saying anything. Whatever the case, these rich individuals who had no extremely unmistakable or effectively recognizable wellsprings of riches continued living enormous and imparting an air of dread and dread on the Owerri masses. This was the means by which Owerri was portrayed around then:

‘Extravagant wares likewise opened up in Owerri during the mid 1990s, yet for the most part through a lot of selective shops. These shops took into account individuals from their proprietors’ class: the recently prosperous and for the most part young social elites of the town. Other than the appearance of planes in Owerri’s skies just because since Federalist besieging assaults during the late 1960s, the town’s bikes and weather beaten Peugeot 504 cabs presently imparted its potholed lanes to the uncommonly costly cars and sports utility vehicles of the nouveaux wealth. While the least fortunate Owerri indigenes tuned in to Igbo-dialects programs on their radios and visited progressively well off family members to observe as often as possible disturbed nearby TV programming or recordings, the town’s manors were furnished with generators giving steady force, satellite dishes, video circles, and monster screen TVs indicating current universal news, business reports, dramatizations, sitcoms, and music and film programming from Great Britain and the United States.

By 1996, Ndi Owerre (Owerri indigenes) could, without a doubt, see what they had been absent before air terminal flourishing, however for the vast majority of them this was minimal in excess of a brief look through the luxurious entryways of world class manors or into shops whose merchandise had sticker prices what might be compared to a while’s income. Since some of the town’s parvenu moguls were not ndi owerre themselves, old standards of correspondence among well off and less fortunate tribe individuals didn’t appear to apply under the new system. This absence of correspondence was particularly felt as the youthful elites took titles and exhibited their dollar/naira power at open, ‘social’ occasions like disguise excursions, weddings and memorial services. Effective business enterprise in 1990s… .form extravagant houses, and parade their wealth in the essences of their enduring neighbors. At the point when the inquiry was presented about the birthplaces of such untoward riches, two prospects past real business enterprise introduced themselves to the Owerri nonexistent. To start with, the cash could be the badly gotten increases of Nigeria’s rising society of medication couriership and weapons deals. Second, and much more startlingly, the cash could be the result of the most exceedingly terrible kind of wrongdoing: the immediate abuse of youngsters, regardless of whether as focuses for parental coercion or as focuses for cash enchantment, a training in any case known in Nigerian Anglophone circles as’ritual murder’.’

That was a depiction of the environment of Owerri of that time. Furthermore, truly, the persecution by the well off was genuine. They displayed their flawed riches in the most disgusting way, took all the chieftaincy titles, moved around with furnished groups of police and troopers bothering everybody on the streets, their vehicles had uncommon and tweaked plates and any driver who set out to dissent got an amazing beating. These divine beings were basically unapproachable until everything dispersed.

At the point when the individuals knew about what occurred inside the lodging to the kid, Owerri detonated with outrage and hatred that had been accumulating for a considerable length of time. For two straight days, the individuals of Owerri trooped out in their thousands, dissenting and revolting. Not even the solid arm strategies of the Imo State military head, Colonel Tanko Zubair, could stop them (the organization of the previous military representative Navy Captain James Aneke was at that point seen as degenerate, 419-based and even complicit in the assurance of the Otokoto men while he was in office). They basically went out of control and the national and worldwide media concentrated on the Owerri uproars of 24th and 25th of September, 1996, otherwise called the Otokoto riots, the individuals felt they had all that could possibly be needed.

Any property suspected to have a place with the ‘Otokoto men’ were set on fire, from luxurious inns to extravagance general stores, their garish autos, palatial houses, everything was wrecked and caught fire. A progressively itemized portrayal of the mobs is given in the ensuing areas. Any associated part with the Otokoto pack was lynched. Preceding the mobs, the energetic individuals from the Otokoto group and other mystery social orders (accepted to be branches of grounds mystery factions) engaged with ceremonial killings went wherever persecuting others with their not well gotten riches making other persevering young people look dumbfounded and senseless. The horde activity of the Owerri individuals was portrayed in this way by Declan Okpalaeke in the Echoes of Otokoto underneath:

‘Individuals from the furious horde arrogated to themselves the intensity of the appointed authority and jury. It was for them, clearly, an open door for a putsch, for a purging of their once quiet town. Also, they went about it with goading anger. They called attention to heavenly structures inside the city suspected to have a place with fraudsters and hijackers. Also, when fingered, such structures were walked upon were walked upon and burnt with extraordinary vehicles and different properties decimated, their proprietors articulated liable by the horde. As the group moved starting with one piece of the town then onto the next, more individuals participated in the demonstration of anger and more casualties tumbled to its wilderness equity.’

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The Owerri open had no confidence in the police and indeed, the magistrate of police around then, David Abure, was viewed as the exemplification of defilement who lived like royalty with the malevolent ones. In any case, how did the updates on the ruthless inn killings spill out to people in general?


After the horrible homicide of the little Okoronkwo by Mr. Blameless Ekeanyanwu (what a name, guiltless for sure), he left the inn to convey the head where it was required. It was the cruiser administrator named Opara who took him to his goal in Eziama who understood that was his traveler was conveying inside the polythene sack was really a new human head. It was all the while dribbling with blood. At the point when he landed, the motorcyclist cautioned the police who at that point captured Ekeanyanwu on his all the way back in a Peugeot 504 vehicle, he was conveying the head with him in the polythene sack. Opara would later affirm in court.

With the cruiser he took before, he was setting off to the habitation of an exceptionally powerful figure named Chief Leonard Unaogu at Eziama, Ikeduru Local Council Area with the head however after showing up, he was told Mr. Unaogu had gone to Lagos. So Ekeanyanwu had no other choice yet to come back to Owerri with the kid’s head. At the point when the time had come to take the headless group of Ikechukwu to the neighborhood funeral home, Owerri inhabitants trooped out of their homes, it was a huge parade and they fought as far as possible. They remained around and inside the lodging premises and trusted that the police will affirm that it was to be sure a custom homicide. Some other Owerri inhabitants kept watch before the clinical focus, watching everything and furthermore hanging tight for the affirmation of a custom homicide from either the funeral home or the police. Yet, the notification was to inevitably originated from the Imo State TV channel. Doubt was at that point thick noticeable all around and anybody could smell the pressure. It was Owerri individuals versus the absolute most wicked types of mankind in their middle.

It was in this middle of this strain the neighborhood media station made its erroneous conclusion. They demonstrated the picture of Innocent Ekeanyanwu holding the leader of his casualty. The objective of the media was to guarantee the individuals, alleviate open dread, request that the open assistance recognize the kid and show official straightforwardness however what followed next was a disaster. Poop hit the fan as the goaded individuals of Owerri went haywire after the picture was first communicated on the 24th of September. All Owerri inhabitants surrendered their organizations and congregated at the town’s focal commercial center. It was there they chosen the following game plan and sketched out their techniques to manage the Otokoto ‘talent scouts’. The news spread quickly and in a little while, each home in Owerri had both of the news or seen the picture of Okoronkwo’s head or his shallow grave. Jobless and disappointed youngsters assumed control over the parks and gave dangers to the Owerri tycoons. From the Owerri principle advertise, the mobs detonated and spread.

The example of demolition was slick. The rampaging swarm previously went to the funeral home and from that point, they hurried to the Otokoto Hotel and set it ablaze. From that point, they went to the close by palatial chateau of Chief Vincent Duru and devastated his property, his costly vehicles were destroyed and Duru himself barely got away. From that point, the group split into assault gatherings and spread out to different locales of the priviledged first class and released greatest decimation. The notable Piano Plaza and Stores, close by another inn, Chibet Hotel, and different organizations connected to the Otokoto and their partners were totally crushed. The Zubairu-drove government later reallocated all the property as suggested by the board which was going by Justice PC Onumajuru.

From that point, they hurried to the royal residence of the customary ruler and director of the state board of conventional rulers, Eze Onu Egwu Nwoke (later prosecuted nearby Aneke and Abure by the board of request) and torched his home and his gas station, they likewise demolished the lord’s 15 airconditioners and a considerable lot of his vehicles. They were not done at this point, from that point, the group ‘troops’ set out toward the living arrangements of previous Imo State authorities. These heads were focused on as a result of what was portrayed as ‘their supposed reluctance to appropriately handle a few instances of custom homicide, capturing and burglary while in office.’ The furious agitators possibly consented to quiet down when the military chairman (MILAD) guaranteed them that a full, state-level examination of the episode would have been propelled.


Following the capture of Ekeanyanwu, he was remanded in police guardianship while anticipating preliminary. Yet, while he was in the police authority, enchantment occurred obviously, he was executed by food contamination. He killed the kid on Thursday and by Sunday morning, the 22nd of September, he was discovered dead in police authority and by Monday morning, the updates on his passing was at that point spreading all through Owerri.

Be that as it may, fortunately for the investigative specialists, before he was executed, Ekeanyanwu admitted and referenced Leonard Unaogu as the cerebrum behind the custom murdering coop. He admitted that the custom murdering ring was an efficient machine that had some expertise in the gathering of human body parts and offered them to those keen on utilizing them for ceremonies and all the standard babble they professed to utilize them for. He additionally said it was Unaogu who requested him to get a human head.

A few reports show that the Otokoto adventure (as the custom executing came to be referred to) had been set up as far back as 1976. Confession booth explanations additionally show that nobody was saved at the Otokoto Hotel. Honest visitors and clueless voyagers who held up at the lodging were sedated or assaulted in their rest and hacked to death after which they were cut into pieces available to be purchased.

Cops who dipped upon the lodging found not just the shallow grave containing that of the young man yet in addition graves containing different casualties with their decaying and dissected bodies. Nobody knows the specific number of bodies unearthed at Otokoto Hotel, with figures changing from 8 to two dozen. Some were covered at unnoticeable areas, for example, under the flowerbeds. Such shrewd, such loathsomeness!

The man that Ekeanyanwu referenced before he was harmed to death, Leonard Unaogu, was referred to in the general public as a business magnate. Everybody knew him. In any case, that was not all. His lesser sibling, Laz Unaogu, was a serving priest under the General Abacha system. The sibling of a serving government serve was embroiled in the decapitation of a poor kid, it was a great instance of the rich against the persecuted and poor Nigerian lion’s share. Leonard Unaogu was in the long run captured by the police when Duru guaranteed that cops had revealed to him that the late Ekeanyanwu had admitted that Unaogu appointed the slaughtering. He was captured and made to confront the legal commission of request and in the long run held in jail, accused of homicide. It appeared the legislature truly needed the guilty parties or if nothing else somebody rebuffed in light of the fact that the individuals of Owerri were prepared to jump on anybody should they be discharged to go free.

In any case, the individuals of Owerri made their voices heard, they sought after the case till the end. Truth be told, the Otokoto case can be viewed as the instance of the Owerri individuals versus the Otokoto Seven (as the seven chief suspects were called). The police captured Unaogu and when he was tested, he lied with a straight face that he never realized anybody called Innocent Ekeanyanwu and that he was not even in Owerri when the wrongdoing was submitted, saying he was in Lagos. He would later say something very similar in court just for the directing adjudicator to disregard it as rubbish saying his area when the offense was submitted was insignificant to the current issue.

Ekeanyanwu, who killed the kid, was matured 32 and he filled in as a planter inside the Otokoto Hotel. At the point when he passed on of food contamination, the Imo State Police Commissioner discharged a press explanation with the speed of light saying the police thought nothing about it saying there was no injustice. This flighty talk from the police boss maddened the Owerri adolescents, who expeditiously came back to roads requesting equity for the killed kid. This time around, they were resolved like never before to locate their own proof of custom homicide.

They attacked the homes of ‘suspected vendors in human body parts’ sniffing around for hard proof which they apparently found in one of the houses. The houses of worship were not saved as well, particularly the new-breed zealous chapels, with their fundamental objective being the Overcomers Christian Mission along Wetheral where it was supposed that human skulls were found with charms and talismans however the police later said what was found there were different creature skulls, pots brimming with vulture and different plumes, chalk, red candles, books on spiritualist subjects, photos, cowries, objects formed like people and jugs that contained unknown powders and natural arrangements.

Empowered by their prosperity at this disclosure, the nonconformists walked on different places of worship, a cabin and even an ashram. All the holy places well known with the moguls of Owerri were assaulted and wrecked. Just Winners Chapel barely got away as it had been encircled by fight prepared cops. When the tempest quieted on the 27th of September, 26 structures and a few vehicles had been wrecked. It was a primitive scene and the viciousness blended in with the ruthlessness was plainly clear in the obliteration. All the Otokoto suspects were remanded in the Owerri government detainment facilities during preliminary.