Source close to Mr. Symphorosa Otike- Odibi the lawyer who was murdered by his wife has revealed that he may have had some premonition of his death hours before he died. It was revealed that he had launch with his staff just few hours before his death and while they were at lunch, he was in an unusually high spirit and reportedly told them to “eat and make merry” because “life is too short”.
Odibi lived an active and fun filled life before he was allegedly murdered by his quiet and unassuming wife, Mrs. Udeme Odibi (47), also a lawyer, on May 2, in their apartment at Diamond Estate, Sangotedo area of Ajah about 10:30p.m. Udeme became the second celebrated female lawyer in Nigeria to allegedly kill her husband in such a reprehensible manner.
The first was Mrs. Yewande Oyediran, working with the Oyo State Ministry of Justice. Yewande stabbed her husband, Lowo Oyediran Ajanaku, 38, to death in their Akobo Estate home in Ibadan, Oyo State home on February 2, 2016, after she found out that he fathered a child through another woman.
The similarities between Yewande and Udeme are mind-blowing. Both women are both brilliant lawyers, both husbands had children from other women and both had been married for three years before they snapped and killed. The manner in which Udeme allegedly murdered her husband sent shivers down the spines of many Nigerians.
The reason Udeme allegedly killed her husband has two versions. The first claims that she killed after a protracted quarrel over issue of infidelity, while another version insists she murdered him over property sharing.
A police source said: “It was Udeme herself that told us the quarrel was over infidelity. She also mentioned that there were other issues. She never said anything about property.
We still don’t get it; she killed her husband and then severed his genitals, what was she trying to prove? She’s an insecure woman. We gathered that whenever her husband greeted other females, she got angry.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Edgal Imohimi, working on what his investigators told him, alleged that Odibi’s murder was premeditated. Warming to his premeditated murder theory, Imohimi said: “Udeme bought a new set of knives, with which she used in killing Otike. She first hit him on his head with a frying pan before stabbing him with the knife, which she had already bought for the purpose.
“After killing him, she called her mother on the phone and told her what she had done. She also sent a WhatsApp message to her sisterin- law, complaining about her husband and asking her to pray for them.
She asked the sister-in-law to ask God to forgive her. After stabbing the deceased in his stomach, she didn’t call neighbours for help; rather, she called her mother to inform her about her deed. She had also packed all her certificates, including her O’ level certificate and made all arrangement to travel to the United Kingdom the following day.”
When police reached the scene of the crime, they found Odibi lying on the bed, in a pool of his blood. His stomach had been ripped open and his intestines were gushing out. As if that was not bad enough, Udeme had severed his genitals and placed it in his right hand. Udeme allegedly tried to stab and kill herself. She, however, failed and was rescued and rushed to the hospital.
The incident and attendant stories have left many puzzles. Neighbours were alleged to have stopped Udeme when they realised she was trying to skip town about 11p.m. The posers: How did the neighbours know she had killed her husband and was about to bolt at that ungodly hour? Police further said that Udeme bought a new set of knives to kill Odibi. But one wonders why Udeme, a housewife, doesn’t have knives at home and had to buy new sets.
Getting to speak with Udeme is out of the question as she was on Wednesday remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prison by a Chief Magistrate’s Court. Our correspondent paid a visit to Odibi’s office at Juli Estate, off Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Lagos. One of his workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Otike drove himself to office that fateful Wednesday. But before he left, he advised everyone to move close to God. He said that nobody knows what would happen to him or her. He also advised us to always see our spouses as our friends, not enemies.
We didn’t know that he was giving us his parting message.” Another member of staff stated: “We all knew what was going on between Otike and Udeme. We just didn’t know it could lead to our boss being killed.
When he arrived on that Wednesday, he went straight to his office. After some hours, he came out, called everyone together and started preaching that spouses should love each other.
What surprised us most was that he said that nobody could predict what could happen to him or her in a second. He sent one of us to go and buy food at an eatery. We ate and wined together.
When we asked him what informed the advice and merriments, he said that we should enjoy ourselves because life was too short. He later said that we were partners in progress.”
A female worker said: “We the female staff knew the kind of person Udeme is. She’s nice and kind, but doesn’t allow us to relate with Otike except on administrative grounds.
She worked with us briefly until last year when she left. We sympathise with our boss’ daughter and aged mother.” A clinical psychologist, Mr. Akin Gabriel, explained that for a wife to cut off her husband’s genitals after killing him was like sending a message.
He said: “The woman is either saying that the man was too aggressive; she’s saying she’s not accepting the authority of that man; that woman is saying she has the authority. The cutting off of that manhood is an aggressive statement of authority.
That act is an aggressive action of trying to dictate authority, such as saying, “I’m in charge. I’m tired of your authority. I’m tired of your aggression. I’m tired of the trauma, your molestation and your authority over me.’ Considering that penis is the symbol of power of the man, that woman by cutting off the penis is trying to snatch away the symbol of power away from that man.
A woman, who took such action, wants power or is tired of the aggressive display of power by the man. She took away the symbol of that power aggressively.” According to Gabriel, the lesson in Udeme’s action is that in every relationship, there is always a struggle for power. He added: “Although there are two people involved, but there is a wrestle for power. But really, if there is a marriage, there should be a combination of the two coming together.
There should be a relinquishment of power to be overtaken by a show of love. In a loving relationship, power is not to be the priority; love should be. There will be no need to display power aggressively.
Love instead will protect and nurture. Love will make the person to use the power he has to, instead to nurture and protect.” Our correspondent paid a visit to the Diamond Estate. The estate was like a fortress.
Before one is allowed access, he or she would have to call the host/hostess for identification. While the puzzles continue to increase, Odibi’s friends, have been mourning him.
But many insisted on being anonymous. One of them said: “Otike first studied English at the University of Benin and later went to Ekpoma University to study Law. It was in Ekpoma that people started seeing him as having a dark side.
He married first, second and third wife. In fact, Udeme is his third wife. But there’s also a fourth woman in the picture. We are wondering whether Udeme found out about the fourth woman. He was a woman’s man.
He has just a daughter from his first wife. The girl is schooling in the UK. In fact, she’s presently sitting for an examination. Everyone has been trying to prevent her from hearing the news of her father’s death, so that it wouldn’t affect her exams.” Another friend, Mr. Francis Ebuchi, said Udeme and Otike met while she was working in her husband’s law firm and has a jealousy streak. She had never wanted any lady close to Otike.
He said: “Udeme was a nice person, but got married to my friend after he divorced his first wife whom he had a daughter with. The couple began fighting after Otike maintained that some of his properties must go to his daughter in his will.
A position Udeme, who is yet to have a child with him, was strongly against. The woman allegedly made good her threat, ripping out the intestine of the victim with a knife and tried to escape.
I have missed a great brother and friend. Goodbye Symphorosa Otike Odibi. I still can’t believe you are gone.” Another friend said he had been privileged to know the late Otike for over 15 years.
He said: “I spoke to him a few weeks ago concerning a professional matter; he was a kind, gentle, patient and generous man who was slow to anger. He was a peacemaker, non-adversarial in nature and always seeking the route of compromise. His death was a shock. Otike was highly professional in his work at a first rate law practice, called Johnson Bryant, in which he was a senior founding partner.
He was on a very good term with his ex-wife, who is a very senior corporate lawyer at a first generation bank. There was absolutely no lasting bitterness or rancour from their divorce.
My heart goes out to his beloved daughter, ex-wife, mother and family members, friends and colleagues.” Another friend, Neville Agbonwaneten, said: “I’m still in shock. Evil comes in different forms and even manifests through supposedly loved ones.
From those who say ‘I love you’ How can one come to grip with the fact that a spouse you sleep and wake up with every day can be so full of evil to take your life just like that.
Such wanton disregard for the sanctity of human life. A callous and conniving woman whose primary desire was to reap where she has not sown. It is such a bitter pill to swallow. Her evil has robbed you of the benefit of enjoying the fruits of your labour. Such a dastardly act! What is her gain now?
What form of hatred and uncontrolled anger was that?” A former course-mate and business partner, Valentine Utulu, took to Facebook and wrote an elegy for Otike. According to Utulu, he and Otike met in the university and served together. They later started a law firm, but parted ways over irreconcilable differences.
He wrote: “I have not slept well in the past three nights. The timing and manner of your death has traumatised me like nothing else in my life. I never could have imagined you would go this way.
The cruelty of it all beggars imagination. My friend Sym, why did you not leave the house for her? When you knew she wanted to kill you, why did you not flee for your life? Why did you not go and sleep in a hotel or anywhere else for your own safety?” Utulu then went on to reminisce about their NYSC days. He recalled: “I remember our adventures in Port Harcourt during our youth service.
You taught me how to make a mean spaghetti sauce with one onion and two tins of ‘geisha’ and a little oil with ‘maggi’. You somehow turned those things into a gourmet meal. It was magic. I weep for you my brother.
I remember how we used to hang out at Aquarius Night Club and Beverly Café on Aba Road. I remember the many parties at the Navy Camp at Onne where you served. I remember how I volunteered to follow you to that secondary school in Bori Local Government to force the principal to reject you so you could get another place for your primary assignment. Both of us smoked cigarettes in that principal’s office to let him know we were bad news and so he was quick to reject you.”
Utulu further said: “When later we became partners in our law firm, I knew you were not a perfect man and so I took a secret oath with God that I will never quarrel or fight with you no matter what happened.
We started from one room at Agidingbi, and then we got our big break and started to build a modern, cutting-edge law firm. But when we had irreconcilable differences I walked away and left the firm for you. I still prayed for you often, even though we had not spoken in over five years since I walked away. You should have just apologised to me, Sym.
The office or material things were not a real issue. The real issue was that our relationship was broken and I could no longer be the spiritual support I was meant to be to you because of these things. You were a warm and wonderful soul. Your warmth touched many, but remember, I was your friend not because you were a perfect man but because you were my brother from another mother.”
Otike and Udeme got married three years ago and the union had not been blessed with a child. Police seized Udeme’s passport after they discovered she had earlier planned to skip town after committing the crime.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, Mrs. Yetunde Longe, who is handling the investigation, said that there had been reports of domestic violence and that the couple had not been speaking with each other for a long time now, even though they were living under the same roof.
A neighbour further disclosed that Otike called him on the phone on the fateful night he was murdered, complaining that his wife was threatening to kill him with a knife. The neighbour said: “I warned Otike to be careful.
He also called his mother and younger sister, complaining of the threat to his life that night.”Udeme, who is from Akwa Ibom State, is a well-trained lawyer like her husband.
Udeme’s LinkedIn profile revealed that she is not just a brilliant lawyer, but a financial guru, who had worked in banks, the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), overseas and had been a player in the oil and gas industry. Sources, however, said that Udeme was not happy as she had allegedly been looking for a child. Udeme has indicated on her LinkedIn page that children are uppermost among the three causes she cares about.
The others are education and poverty alleviation. Cool, calm, and collected, according to some of her friends, Udeme’s mind allegedly snapped when she suspected that her husband was having an affair. She was alleged to have turned to a recluse as her marriage began to experience difficulties. It was also gathered that Udeme stopped going to office.
Udeme and Yewande are unarguably brilliant lawyers and by the nature of their jobs, knew the consequences of their actions before wielding the killing knives. They must have thought it through, but were too enraged, depressed or traumatised to give a hoot.
A Lagos-based blogger, Helen Ozor, was the first to reach out to the niece of Lowo on the morning of his death. The niece narrated: “My uncle and his wife are based in Ibadan, and we are based in Lagos. I was in my office when my boss received a call from my uncle’s personal assistant that Lowo had been rushed to the hospital. I immediately alerted my mum since my dad, Lowo’s elder brother, was out of the country.
My mum rushed down from her office to my office and went directly to Ibadan with my boss to see Lowo’s state. Of course he died less than 15 minutes after he was rushed to the hospital.
From what the landlord that took Lowo to the hospital said, Lowo and his wife had a little argument between the hours of 10pm-11pm over the issue of going for an official assignment in Germany and France in two days-time with his boss and finance manager of his company. “The tickets had already been purchased. The wife told the husband not to go and there was argument.
She stabbed Lowo on the shoulders and the neighbours intervened. The dispute was resolved amicably. Lowo even took some pictures to send to his business partners in Denmark. Lowo went to a nearby hospital to get treated and then went back home to sleep. She then stabbed him while he was sleeping. She should have divorced him instead of killing him if she was tired of the marriage. Plus this February will mark their third marriage anniversary. The couple does not have kids.” In Yewande’s case, she was sentenced to seven year imprisonment, even though she repeatedly maintained, “I’m not guilty.”
The trial judge, Munta Abimbola, said that Yewande was convicted of manslaughter and not of murder. The judge said that with the evidence before the court, the convict and her late husband had frequently engaged in domestic violence.
He also adjudged the evidence of the couple’s landlord and wife, Mr and Mrs Akinpelu, as credible. The landlord and his wife had told the court that they saw the convict holding a knife, while the deceased was in a pool of blood. According to the autopsy report, the deceased died as a result of shock from a deep wound caused by a sharp object.