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As the controversy over the death of Joy Odama rages, her nother, Mrs. Philomena Odama, has opened up on the tragic incident, saying an Abuja-based millionaire should be held responsible for it. In an interview with Molly Kilete in Abuja, at the office of the non-governmental organisation championing the arrest and prosecution of the suspect, she tells a pathetic story.
What transpired between your late daughter and Alhaji?
The whole incident happened on December 18, 2016. Joy, was my first daughter. I have two of them. She was an undergraduate at the University of Calabar and came to Abuja for Christmas holidays.
On that fateful day, which happened to be a Sunday, we were all at home when one of our neighbours named Elizabeth came to look for my second daughter and we told her she was not at home; she said, what of Aunty Joy? I told her she was inside and she went inside the house to meet her.
She even used Joy’s phone to speak with the younger sister who told her she was at Life Camp.
She now pleaded with Joy to accompany her to one daddy, that is what she called the Alhaji, who she said wanted to assist her in her education and asked her to see him.
When I heard her reason for coming to my house I told her Joy could not go with her but she began to plead with me that it had to do with her education and that she had stayed home for over one year before this daddy agreed to help her; it was for this reason that Joy agreed to accompany her.
And that was the first time Joy heard about the Alhaji because she had never met him before.
About 30 minutes after they left the house, I called to find out if they had arrived and she told me yes, because I always monitored my children, and I told her not to stay too long and she agreed and that was about 4 O’clock in the evening.
Shortly after I spoke with her, she called me say the daddy said he wanted to know me. She said the Alhaji had asked who she spoke with when I called her and she said it was her mother and he asked her to call me so he can speak with me.
He told her to ask me to come that he would like to know me so he can render the same help he wants to render to Victoria to Joy as well.
When heard that and the fact that it was my daughter who called me, I went to the house because it’s not far from our house by her description.
When I got there, I met my daughter and the girl that took her there with another girl and the Alhaji, who greeted me nicely and asked me to sit down but I refused because I was not too comfortable the way I saw him when I entered the house. my mind was not at peace and I was even pleading the blood of Jesus over me.
And I told my daughter and the other girl that we should start going home. We dint even stay long in the house.
He told me my daughter was a very good and well-brought-up girl. He asked me what my occupation was and I told him I was not doing anything at the moment. He then asked if I could work with Civil Defence and I said yes, because I thought it was real and thanked him for offering me such a job and I was happy.
When I told him we wanted to leave he said I should send all my details to him and we left.
When we got home, Joy, sent my details to the Alhaji through text message and that was all.
On December 20, I went to Karmo market to shop and when I returned I did not meet Joy at home and called her on the phone and I asked her to come and cook and she told me that Daddy sent for her to come and help him take care of his house-help who was sick so he can go and get a doctor to attend to her.
I said okay but asked her to come back on time.
I called 30 minutes later to find out if the daddy had come with the doctor and she said I should not worry that she would soon return that they are still waiting for the Alhaji to return.
At that point I asked if she was there with other people and she said yes and I asked her to hand over the phone to one of them. She did, and I asked the person I was speaking to, what is your name? She told me her name was Gift. I asked her where she hailed from and she said Imo State and I said okay, please help me take of Joy and make sure she comes back home on time because she’s not the type that goes out, and she said no problem.
I waited until 8pm, I called again to ask her to start coming back home but she did not pick the call. I called repeatedly and she did not pick the calls, and I was wondering why she was not picking her calls. At 9pm, I decided to go to the house of the Alhaji myself to find out what was going on but on getting there the guard refused me entry after asking me where I was going, after waiting for sometime and calling my daughter on phone but she was still not answering my calls and I thought she wanted to start misbehaving because of the girls she met there so I left the place because it was night.
When I got home, I couldn’t sleep, and at midnight, I called her number again it rang yet she did not pick, and I made up my mind to go back in the morning.
As I was about going there, two police personnel came to invite me to the police station. When I tried to find out why, they refused to tell me anything but said I should come with them that the DPO, wanted to see me. I then remembered that Joy did not return last night and I asked them what happened to my daughter, they still did not give me answer. At that point I rushed to one of our family friends to accompany me and also called my other daughter; this was on December 21.
On getting to the station, we went straight to the DPO’s office and I tried to find out why I was invited and he told me not to shout in his office and walked me out. I tried to pull myself together when I went out and went back to his office but he drove me out and said I should go and meet the DCO. On getting out, I saw the same man that came to invite me and told him the DPO, asked me to meet him. He said nothing happened to her that I should pull myself together that she fell ill an was taken to hospital where she was on admission.
I then asked him to take me to the hospital but he refused. In that confusion, I called my pastor and was crying on the phone. I stayed at the police station until night when they asked me to leave and come back the next day, so I left.
I went back the next day, being December 22, before 6am, and went to the office of the DCO. The person I saw said they had not resumed and asked me to come back at 10am. I left went outside and waited until about 10am, and went inside. On getting inside, I saw one of the girls, Martha, I met at the Alhaji’s house and I recognised her and went to the counter where she was and said, are you not Martha? She said yes, and I said where is Joy, and what are you doing here? She told me they instructed her not to talk and when I asked who gave the order, she said it was the DPO.
I begged her to talk and she told me she went to Alhaji’s house very early in the morning and saw Joy lying lifeless and thought she was still sleeping and tried to wake her up, but when she did she saw that her body was cold and stiff. As she was still talking to me, one of the policemen saw us and shouted at her to stop talking to me and walked me out of the station. That was how I came to know that Joy was dead. At that point, I started calling my people to tell them the sad news and meet me at the police station, I also called my pastor ad the NGO people and they all came to the police station Immediately and went to the DPO to ask what happened.
It was then that the DPO announced the girl was dead; some girls went into coma in the Alhaji’s house and were rushed to the hospital but Joy did not respond to treatment while others did.
It was the presence of my people and the NGO that made the police to take us to where they kept the body of Joy. We did not even know that they had already taken her to the mortuary without our consent. In fact, all that time they were dribbling me at the station they had already taken the body for embalming. If not for the people helping me, maybe they would have even buried her.
When the NGO people found that the police were trying to be funny, they called their lawyer, who rushed down immediately to the station and took the matter from there. We went to the mortuary and we confirmed the corpse to be that of Joy. They covered her up and refused to open it for me to identify, it was through her hair that I knew it was her.
But at the mortuary, we noticed that the pathologists and the mortuary attendants were surprised to find that I was Joy’s mother and the people that accompanied me because after confirming that we are Joy’s relations, they told us that the Alhaji brought the body very early in the morning of December 21, that he was her father and that they should embalm the body.
He further told us that they refused and asked him how he knew the girl was dead and demanded for a death certificate from the doctor who certified her dead, which he could not produce and so they rejected the body.
According to the attendants, the Alhaji returned a few hours later with the DPO in charge of Life Camp Police Station, who identified himself and instructed them to accept the body. They said it was only after the DPO came to them that they accepted the body and deposited it the mortuary of the Federal Staff Hospital.
They also said that the Alhaji, went with one 14-year-old girl who claimed to be the younger sister of Joy and worked in the same office.
It was also while we were at the hospital that the pathologist said, madam, do you know they have embalmed your daughter?.
At that point, my people began to question why the body was embalmed without the family’s consent. They stopped us from seeing the full body and even prevented the lawyers from taking photographs of the body.
Why do you think they refusd to let you see your daughter’s body, d you suspect foul play?
I think they refused me or my people to see the body because they were working on the orders of the Alhaji, because, the way they were behaving, all was not well and that was why we had to transfer the body to the National Hospital.
On leaving the hospital, we got back to the police station to know why the body was embalmed without our consent but they did not give us any good reason. At that point, the DPO then told us that, if we insisted on knowing why, we should come back on the 24th, when the Alhaji would be available to hear from him.
We went on that day and on getting there with our lawyers they were not comfortable and it was like the meeting was not going to hold; it was rescheduled for December 26.
When we got there again, the Alhaji came with one Assistant Inspector-General of police, whom the DPO introduced to us. The AIG then ordered us to collect N400,000 from the Alhaji as burial expenses. Before he made the offer, one of the people that came with me tried to ask some pertinent questions, but the AIG asked who he was to ask such questions when he the AIG, was there and ordered us to go out. Another interesting thing that happened while we were in the DPO’s office was that they seized all our phones because they were afraid we were going to record the conversation.
After ordering us out, they called us back after sometime and offered us the N400,000 to go and bury the girl. The DPO said that it was a natural death and that there was no need for us to do an autopsy because we cannot afford the kind of money they pay for autopsy, we should just accept the money that it was sudden and natural death.
The AIG then warned that he did not want to hear anything about the case, if we don’t accept the money, and that it was him that forced the Alhaji to increase the money to N400,000, as he had offered to give N300,000.
We left the station without accepting their offer and up till this moment the police has done nothing to arrest the man; and he is still walking free, bringing more girls to his apartment.
He even called one of the girls that since they have refused to come to his house again, he has brought new girls from Lagos.
What do you think he does with the girls?
I don’t know and that is what I want I want the police to ask him
The polce said you knew the Alhaji and he had been assisting you and you family…
Before heaven and earth and the God that I serve, I have never heard or met the Alhaji before in my life. I first met him on that December 18, and he was the one that asked my daughter to call me after I called to know if they had gotten to their destination; and it was on that same day that my daughter got to know him and the girls who took her there can testify to this, they are my witnesses.