The maxim that one can only run but not hide forever was brought to bear on 22-year-old Tanko Abdullateef, a security guard, who allegedly killed his female boss, Ms Mabel Okafor, whom he was employed to protect, when he was arrested in Taraba State, far away from Lagos State where he carried out the act.
The arrest was made by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, Lagos, after the challenge of the task of arresting the suspected murderer was thrown at the Commander of the RRS, ACP Tunji Disu by the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni and the state government.
In August, the Nigerian media was awash with the story of how the suspect was reported to have stabbed his 50-year-old boss, Mabel Okafor, in her apartment at No J68B, Close 9, Victoria Garden City in the Lekki-Ajah area on August 17, 2016, after which he ran to his village, Bali Community in Jalingo Local Government Area of Taraba State. He had barely spent two weeks at his job when he killed his boss.
The body of the woman was said to have been discovered after she was not seen at a meeting she was to have with some top government functionaries. Calls put through to her phone lines were also not connecting.
This was said to have made some people to go to her house to find out what was happening. On getting there, they were said to have noticed that water was dropping from the air conditioning panel outside. The people were said to have peeped through an opening they noticed, only to see her body lying on the floor of her living room.
A source told the Saturday Tribune that Abdullateef was suspected to have put on the air conditioner to preserve the remains of the deceased woman so that it would not quickly decompose and stink afterwards. This it was believed would give him the opportunity to have gone out of reach before the body would be discovered.
But the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, who started working on Abdullateef after he committed the crime, tracked him to his village where they spent about three days before his arrest on Saturday, August 27.
In an interview with Saturday Tribune, Abdullateef narrated how the murder was carried out sequentially.
According to the 22-year-old man, “I was in Lagos State in 2014 and worked as a security man but went back to my state. I returned to Lagos during Ramadan this year.
“I got a job with the deceased when her former security guard left. One of our kinsmen learnt about the madam’s search for another security guard and informed me. The former security man wanted to present me to her but had to give me her phone number when she did not return home in time on the day he was leaving.
“Eventually, I was able to secure the job. She placed me on a salary of N18,000 monthly and gave me a room to live in. I had worked less than two weeks by the time I killed her. I had yet to receive salary but she once gave me N1000 to eat.
“I can say that as this thing (killing) happened, it was the devil that got into me, because I never believed that I could kill a human being. On the day it happened, my boss returned home at almost 8.30p.m. She went to her room and later called me.
“She had earlier broken some branches of overgrown flowers within the premises. She asked me whether I did not allow DISCO officials to enter her compound when they had no means of identification and I replied her that I did not. She then asked me to go and trim the flower branches.
“At the time she called me, I had a knife in my hand to cut onions and pepper to prepare my dinner, and as she opened her door and gave the instruction, I just felt a spirit passed through my body. The next was that I stabbed her and I found her on the floor.
“I stabbed her two times but I don’t really know I did it. As she fell, she looked at me and called my name repeatedly: ‘Abdul, Abdul.” I said ‘sorry Ma.’ I lifted her legs and straightened them on the floor by the three-sitter in the sitting room. I noticed blood stained her dress and the knife I used.
“I pitied her as she called my name so I went to put on the air conditioner so that it would blow directly at her body. I left for her room which I ransacked to pick some trinkets and clothes. I went back to the living room to pick her phones and N10,000 from her purse which was there.
“One of the security men close by heard her when she screamed in pain after I stabbed her, so he came to knock on the gate to enquire what was wrong. But I dismissed him by telling him not to mind my boss, as she was only scared by the sight of a cockroach.
“I went to the boy’s quarters to talk to a man (name withheld) living at the Boy’s Quarters. When I got to him, I saw that he was busy watching football and when I noticed that he was not aware of what happened in the sitting room, I turned back and went to my room.
“I started putting my things together with the plan to run away the following morning. I threw the knife I used over the fence on to an undeveloped plot of land beside my madam’s house. I have taken police to the place.
“I left the house at about 5a.m. the following morning for Taraba State. My people did not ask me questions about my return since I had once gone and returned. I sold the trinkets to two people at N3,000 each and kept the rest for myself. I kept some of the clothes and gave others to my friend. I told them I bought the dresses for sale. I sold her phone for N20,000.”
Speaking on his arrest, Abdullateef said he was in his room in his village when RRS operatives came to arrest him. “They had earlier arrested my sister and she led them to my room. My kinsmen were very angry when they heard the story and they started raining insults and curses on me,” he said.
When asked of the offence of his boss that made him kill her, the suspect replied: “Walahi, my boss didn’t offend me; it was the devil that pushed me into such action.” He however pleaded for pardon, saying that he would never do such again.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on the suspect, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, confirmed the recovery of some of the deceased’s belongings taken away by the suspect. He stated further that the suspect had been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for investigations which had yielded more revelations. He added that the suspect would be arraigned in court after the completion of investigations into the case.