For those who knew Clifford Nwa Orji as a razor blade seller at the bustling Oshodi market, they’d never have imagined he’d turn out to be a deadly man eater.
When Lagos residents moved past the highway bridge near Toyota bus stop, Oshodi-Isolo expressway, it was not unusual to dismiss Orji as a destitute striving for a living. Until the morning of February 3, 1999, when a faint cry for help from a self-created grotto under the highway bridge alerted passersby.
The shocking discovery
Once inside the cave, the people were shocked to their marrows as they were met with a putrid smell, with freshly cooked human limbs, wrists, thighs and a dying woman lying helplessly by metal pots and firewood. The victim whose cries gave Orji away was identified as Awawu, from Agege, and she was immediately rushed to the hospital in Ikeja.
Orji was incoherent in his statement when police arrived at the scene and was taken to the Makinde Police Station in Oshodi, where media personnels drilled him for answers all Lagos residents were asking.
Few days after his arrest, Orji was paraded before the media with roasted parts of human beings, including skulls, leg, hand and abdomen. One severed head of a lady identified as Eno, a trader from Akwa Ibom, was also on show. It was indeed, a chilling sight.
A disheveled Orji told interviewers he hailed from Enugu state. And that he had been eating human flesh for years.
The defunct Concord newspaper quotes him as saying, “We have been eating human meat for the past seven years before coming to Lagos. It is our culture to eat human meat. We have killed over three people, especially young girls who hawk wares. We always lured them to our enclave under the pretext that we wanted to purchase their wares. Once they are in our net, we pounce on them and kill them for eatable meat. My colleague is the human hunter while I am the butcher.”
Orji’s answer to the question on whether he’d continue to eat human flesh if he became a free man led many to believe he was suffering from mental illness. “Yes, to me there is no difference between human and goat meat,” he said. Others simply believed he was putting on a show to escape the wrath of the law.
The unsolved mystery
Though police had reasons to believe Orji and his accomplice, Tahiru were not just human eaters but also human spare-parts sellers, as a huge sum of money, phone cheques were also found in the cave, the case led to dead ends.
Orji was later arraigned in court for alleged murder and was remanded in prison. He even filed a one million Naira lawsuit through his representative, Abiodun Odusote Chambers, against the Lagos State Attorney-General, Ade Ipaye, over his continued detention in prison for about 12 years without trial.
Clifford Orji remained in the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons in Lagos for nearly fifteen years, until he was pronounced dead on August 17, 2012 aged 46. He was said to have demonstrated extreme signs of insanity before his death. No one came forward to receive his corpse, which was deposited at the Isolo General Hospital mortuary.
In more recent time, occasional crimes of robbery and rape have been recorded at the spot which was once Clifford Orji’s hideout. The flyover that connects Apakun to Oshodi from 7/8 bus stop on the airport Road, Lagos, has become one of the criminal hotspots Lagos residents have been warned to be wary of, especially at nights.