When 19-year-old Chidebere Confidence Nwanma met 24-year-old Saliu Ladayo last year, little did she know that the relationship would result in her death.
They became good friends and Ladayo, who just arrived Akure from Lagos, was staying with one of his brothers, nursing the ambition to marry her someday.
For Chidebere, marriage was not really her top priority as she was planning to further her education after secondary school. She had gone to Kwara State to write her SSCE examination and just returned back to Akure, Ondo State a week before her death.
It started on May 15, 2018 when Ladayo was said to have invited her to his house at No 2, Dele Ojo Street, Falodu area of Oshinle in Akure, accusing her of dating another person, which Chidebere denied. She in turn, was said to have also accused Ladayo of the same offence.
Ladayo, said to be the son of a Pentecostal pastor, wanted to collect her phone and they started struggling. Before long, the man chased her to the kitchen, where he allegedly stabbed her to death.
Ladayo was arrested by the police and paraded alongside other criminal suspects. There, he told journalists that he was under a spell as he did not know what came over him.
In tears, he narrated how he stabbed her to death.
“After she came back from her West African School Certificate Examination, people on the streets told her that I came home with another woman. She was very annoyed and came to my place asking what the meaning of that.
“She started cursing me, saying if I made love with another girl, I won’t make it in life. I asked why she was cursing me, and I told her I did not do that. I returned the curse to her, and she left in annoyance.
“She came back on May 15 and I asked her to forgive me, and as we were talking I said she should cancel the curse but she said she wouldn’t, so I seized her phone and we dragged it. I was begging her to cancel the curse and she went out to tell one of our neighbours that I seized her phone, and the woman came to ask me. I told the woman what she did and she call a second neighbor, but before she (neighbour) came back, I didn’t know what came over me, I went to take a knife and stabbed her to death.”
Chidebere’s mother, Chioma, described her late daughter as a promising young girl.
According to her, she was to be admitted into the Imo State University to study Engineering.
“I really don’t know what must have come upon (Ladayo) to do such a thing,” she said.
“If you see how meet he is, you would never believe such a person can hurt a fly, let alone kill someone. Anyway, he must perform the traditional rites for her before she is buried. He will marry her just as someone is marrying a living person. He must marry her corpse and take her to our village to pay her bride price. I have never seen him around my house before.”
The family has met and decided that the accused now in Olokuta Prison in Akure must marry the corpse properly, saying if he refuses, nobody in his family would live above the age of her death. The father of the girl also said she may not be buried this year at all because the man must take her to the village to perform all the traditional rites before her body would be put to rest.
The marriage ceremony according to them is going to be like a normal ceremony where wedding gowns will be put on the corpse and the man will put a wedding ring on her.
“Otherwise, none of the family members of the man would live more than my daughter’s age, never. I was told he is a son of a pastor in one of the new generation churches.”
Neighbours said the late girl was loved by many people who described her as strong-willed.
Last week, a candlelight procession was held in her honour. The crowd at the procession was said to have come from different parts of the country, including Lagos, Kwara, Imo and Abuja.
The procession was held for her at Oke Aro in Akure, where her parents stay.
Her sister, who came from Owerri after hearing the news, said: “I had to drop what I was doing and rushed to Akure. On the way, I was just crying. On getting to Akure I did not believe what I heard.
“She called me sometime before she went for her exams in Kwara and told me that a man was disturbing her which I took as a normal issue that should not pose any risk. I asked her to forget that kind of thing and concentrate on her examination.
“Due to our closeness, by the time she got back from Kwara, she said the same man owed her N3000 and refused to pay back.
“She later told me that it was his usual practice and she vowed to collect her money.”
She said that she tried to pacify her sister and promised she would send her money before the week ends.
“It’s so painful because we were planning her 19th birthday on May 25th. We were so close that we were called twin sisters.
“We all went to check the body in the mortuary some days back, she was still looking fresh.
“The man stays in this area, and we normally see him around. I am very sure they never got close, because my sister would have told me,” she said.
Ladayo was remanded in Olukuta prison by an Akure Chief Magistrate Court.
The police prosecutor, Inspector Martins Olufeso, had told the court on Wednesday that he stabbed the girl in the chest, hand and leg which resulted in her death. His plea was not taken by the court.
Chief Magistrate Victoria Bob-Manuel who gave the ruling said the accused should be sent to prison pending advice from the state Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).