Testimony of a Double-Dealer

L-R: Ikechukwu, Nwabufo and Nonso, being escorted by prison guards
L-R: Ikechukwu, Nwabufo and Nonso, being escorted by prison guards

Vivian Amunike, the receptionist in Cosmilla Hotel, Lagos, where facebook friends’ murdered Cynthia Osokogu, confessed she illegally gave a room to her killers and pocketed the money

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim  |  Mar. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

WHEN Vivian Amunike walked into the court room on February 22, to testify against two suspected killers of Cynthia Osokogu, allegedly murdered by her facebook friends on July 22, 2012, she looked nervous and even confused. But as she mounted the witness box and started answering questions from Ade Ipaye, attorney-general of Lagos State, the reason for that disposition became clear.

Amunike, the receptionist on duty the day Cynthia killers lodged at the Cosmilla Hotel, Lagos, confessed to diverting the money paid for the room into her pocket. Led in evidence by Ade Ipaye, she said the original occupant of room C1, a male and a female, checked out at about 7:30 am. So, when Okwumo Nwabufo and Ezike Ikechukwu, the alleged killers came to ask for a room at the same time, she simply collected the money from them and issued them a used receipt. To cover up her deed, she told Ifeyinwa Francis, the receptionist that came to relieve her that morning, that Nwabufo and Ikechukwu were relatives of the couple that left room C1 and they would be staying until the money expired.

Ezike Nonso accused of buying Cynthia's phones
Ezike Nonso accused of buying Cynthia’s phones

During cross examination, Victor Opara, counsel for Nwabufor, sought to establish to the court that Amunike was a serial liar. Opara said the fact that Amunike issued fake receipts to the lodgers as well as lied to her colleague that the previous lodgers were related to the new lodgers and also repeated the same lie to the police when she was questioned after Cynthia had been killed, made her an unreliable witness.

Four people linked with the murder of Cynthia, were arraigned on February 8, before Justice O.A Akinlade. They were Nwabufo, the second defendant and Ikechukwu, the fourth defendant, currently facing a four-count charge of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit felony to wit-stealing, and stealing. Orji Osita, the third defendant, was charged for reckless and negligent act of selling Reflon (the substance suspected to have been used in the killing of Cynthia) to the first and second defendants without a doctor’s prescription while Ezike Nonso was charged with having possession of items reasonably suspected to have been stolen from the deceased.

At the last hearing, Justice Akinlade granted bail to the third and fourth defendants.  The third defendant, (Osita) was granted bail on condition that he presented two sureties who must make a deposit of N500, 000 each and must also be residents in Lagos State. Also, the fourth defendant (Nonso) was granted bail on condition that he produced two sureties, one of which must be a senior civil servant  of grade level 14 and a sum of N2 million,

Also at the last hearing, Francis, a receptionist in the hotel at the time the dastardly act, was committed, explained that she was on duty on the 21st of July, 2012, when a couple lodged into the Cosmilla hotel. She checked them into room C 1. The following day, Francis said she resumed work and was told by her colleague that the couple had checked out but a brother of the couple took over the room pending when the payment for the room would expire.

“When it was close to the check-out time (12 pm), I called all the rooms to note those that are staying behind and those checking out. The occupant of room C 1 told me he would stay behind but would have to use a nearby ATM to get some money”, she said.

She said after sometime, she saw the first defendant whom she identified by his fair complexion, descending from the staircase. He paired up with the second defendant who had been at the hotel bar, making calls. According to her, the first defendant identified himself as the occupant of room C 1 and would be going to get some money and also admitted that his girlfriend was in the room, waiting for him.  But to her shock, she received a strange call and the caller identified himself as the occupant of room C 1 “He said he is the occupant of room C 1 and that he is not going to be coming back and I should remove ‘the idiot’ (the girlfriend he left behind)  from the  room”, she said.

She said she quickly alerted Victor, her manager, who advised that she should call the room. She called the room severally but there was no response. Her manager went to the room and banged severally, yet there was no response. It was then that she said they used the hotel’s master key to unlock the door. There, they found Cynthia completely stripped and dead.

After her testimony, she was cross-examined by counsel to the first and second defendants.  The case was adjourned to March 22, for continuation of hearing.

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