Twenty-four-year-old Miss Favour Friday has finally decided to open up on how she was caught in the web of the men who pinned her down and inserted pepper into her private parts. Favour, who is from Rivers State said she had been living in Benin since 2018. She disclosed that February 1, 2019 was a day she would never forget; that was the day the men accused her of stealing and thereafter debased her.
Favour was beaten and stripped by some men who accused her of stealing iPhone X Max valued at N440,000. Her accusers later inserted pepper into her private parts after taking her to a native doctor, who carried out a voodoo activity even in the face of repeated denial. Three persons, the head of the vigilance group at Ugbiyoko community, Mr. Lucky Igbinovia popularly known as One Man Squad, Joel Otoghile and Iyamu Kingsley, have been remanded in prison custody in connection with the incident.
Recalling that fateful day, Favour said: “I was in the hotel, where other girls and I used to ‘hustle,’ when a guy called my friend. He asked her to come to Lafun Hotel, where he was staying with some of his friends.” After receiving the phone call, Favour’s friend asked her if she could go with her, she responded in the affirmative.
Favour recalled: “My friend and I dressed and headed for the hotel. When we got there, the guy that called my girlfriend said I should go and stay with another guy that needed a girl. I sat in the middle of the men; the other man was with my friend. One of the men was breaking Tramadol and mixing it inside a bottle of Coca Cola. My girlfriend said she didn’t understand what the man was mixing inside the bottle. She was afraid and said she wanted to leave. “My friend went to the man that she was with, and asked him why he was taking Tramadol. She said she didn’t want to take it and wanted to leave. The man asked her how she knew the stuff was Tramadol. She replied that her friend told her what it was. The man started arguing about the mixture; I picked up the label of the substance to prove to him that it was Tramadol he was taking. “He accepted but argued that the drug doesn’t make someone to feel high. My girlfriend said she could no longer stay that she wanted to leave. She asked the man that called her, to give her transport fare. The man gave her N500.”
Favour said that as soon as her girlfriend left, she followed. She said she didn’t want to stay there alone, especially since the person that brought her had left. She said: “It was not up to 30 minutes after we returned to our hotel, that some men came shouting that I should return the phone I took. I asked what phone? I told them I didn’t take any phone. At that point, one of them slapped me. They wanted to strip me there, but our director warned them not to try it.”
According to Favour, as the argument raged back and forth, dusk began to gather. Tired of the accusation and counter-accusation, the director asked the men to leave and return the next day. Favour said: “They came the next day. They took us to One Man Squad’s house. The man asked what happened, we explained. He said he would take us to a native doctor’s house. He called the native doctor and asked him to come. Our director then said he was going to the bank to withdraw money to give his wife. Immediately the native doctor came, the men started speaking to him in Bini language.
“The native doctor said we should write our names on a piece of paper. We were about six persons that wrote our names. He said that the name of the person who stole the phone would disappear, while the names of those innocent would remain. The man who said his phone was stolen was asked to crosscheck the names and keep the paper. After the first time, I didn’t see my name; I was asked to write down my name. The man did what he did and again, I didn’t see my name. The native doctor said they should hold me; that I was the person who stole the phone. The native doctor also took two bullets and placed them on my stomach; right before my eyes, the bullets disappeared.
“He said that I should confess that I stole the phone, but I told him I didn’t. He said that since I have refused to confess, that the bullets would burst inside my stomach and kill me. He left, followed by the men that brought us there. A few minutes later, the men returned and asked me to go and beg the native doctor or I would die. I still maintained that I didn’t take the phone. Tired, I grudgingly went to beg him, but suddenly he brought out a snake and out of fear, I lied that I took the phone, but didn’t know where I kept it.” Favour said that after the native doctor left, the men started beating her. They stripped and inserted pepper into her private parts, while one of them video-recorded it.
“One woman later came to rescue me. She took me to a corner. She asked me if I stole the phone, I said no. She suggested that I should pay them; the men welcomed the idea. They said I must pay N440,000, which they claimed was the value of the phone,” recounted Favour. By then, news has travelled to Favour’s friends. When the ladies heard about the N440,000 demand, they rallied and contributed N250,000.
It was learnt that the men, who went to the base of the ladies, started a reign of terror. They destroyed things, including louvers and furniture. Although the director gave them money so that they would leave, they vowed to return the following day to collect a balance of N180,000. On Sunday, the men sent the video to my friend’s phone. She asked them why they sent the video even after they had collected money,” narrated Favour. It was later discovered that the video had been uploaded on the internet.
But the prime suspect in the horrific assault case, Joel Otoghile (36), has a different story to tell. Otoghile said that he returned from Ghana and lodged in Lafun Hotel with his wife. When his cousins came to see him, they requested for ladies with whom they could spend the night. He said: “I came back from Ghana to attend an event, which was to be held on February 2, 2019. When we were in the hotel, some of my relatives came to see me. One of my brothers requested a lady for the night. One of my brothers had the phone number of a lady; he called and asked her to come to the hotel. He also asked her to come with another girl. When the ladies came, I met my cousin with his girlfriend and some other girls; they were all seated. Otoghile said he left briefly to see the receptionist of the hotel, when he came back, the ladies had left.
He said: “When I came back, the ladies, who were sitting with me, were no longer there. One of the ladies that were there told me that the ladies had left. I asked why; she said the ladies complained that what I offered to pay them was not enough. When we were sitting, I had left my phone to meet the receptionist. I couldn’t find it. I started looking for it. I went back to the receptionist to ask if I left my phone there; she said no, that I only came with my ATM card and drink.”
The manager of Lafun Hotel came up with the idea of taking Favour to Ayilala Shrine, to swear to an oath that she didn’t take the phone. The native doctor carried a deadly incantation that made two live bullets to enter Favour’s stomach and further brought out a snake to frighten her into admitting to the crime. He also asked both Favour and her traducers to write down their names on a piece of paper, which he provided for them. He warned that after incantations, anybody whose name disappeared from the paper was the thief. It was when Favour’s name disappeared that the men insisted that she was the one who stole the phone. They descended on her, mercilessly beating her, before stripping her.
It was alleged that when the hotel manager noticed that the situation was turning bad, he called Igbinovia, asking him to advise the parties to go to the police for settlement. A high court sitting in Benin, Edo State remanded Igbinovia, Kingsley and Otoghile in prison for debasing Favour. They were arraigned on a 14-count charge bordering on kidnapping, attempted murder, unlawful administration of noxious substance into the private parts of Favour, unlawful trial by ordeal, among others.
The prosecution counsel, Peter Ugwumba, told the court that investigations showed that no phone was missing and that it was conceived to extort money from the victim. He added: “A native doctor, yet to be arrested, magically inserted two live bullets into the body of Favour, saying she would die if she refused to confess.” The presiding judge, Justice J. Acha, remanded the accused in prison and adjourned the case till March 6, 2019. He ordered the prosecution to produce other suspects at large in court, especially the native doctor, who pointed Favour as the person who stole Otoghile’s phone.
Following the attack on Favour, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State signed the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill into law. This was even as the state Police Command declared that no phone was missing, stressing that those accusing Favour of phone theft, only wanted to extort her. Incidentally, also, a group of women, led by members of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Edo State chapter, protested to the Government House in Benin to register their grievances over the manner Favour was humiliated and assaulted under the guise of looking for a phone.
The Police Commissioner, Odumosu, said investigation into the missing phone, which led to pepper being inserted in Favour’s private parts, revealed that no phone was stolen or missing. The Governor, Obaseki, who signed the bill at the Government House, Benin, said he was aware that the bill touched on fundamental practices among the people. He promised that he was not only signing the bill as a formality, but would ensure it was implemented to the letter.
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