Last week’s murder of a young girl by her purported lover boy in a hotel in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, sparked outrage among indigenes and youths of the state. Emmanuel Addeh writes on the reactions that followed

It was meant to be a romantic relationship between two lovebirds, but the events, starting with the murder of a teenager, purportedly by her boyfriend last week in Yenagoa, and the chain reactions that followed, were anathema to what love embodies.
 
Faith Pius, an 18-year-old youngster was brutally murdered by Tochukwu her boyfriend who ostensibly wanted to get rich quickly and decided to harvest her vital organs to use the teenager for money rituals.
  
Tochukwu, an Igbo youth living in Yenagoa, was said to have invited Faith, his girlfriend, to a guest house in Biogbolo-Epie area of Yenagoa in the night of last weekend, unknown to the young girl that it was to be her last day on earth.
  
The night started well as the duo checked into the hotel, until events quickly turned sour when Tochukwu reportedly sedated Faith and attempted to remove her organs, including her breasts.
  
The young girl struggled with his lover boy turned assailant leading to several knife cuts all over her during the confusion that ensued. This was about 10pm, it was learnt.
 
A huge stab in the stomach sent the young girl reeling on the floor, but was not enough to keep her from screaming for help which attracted the attention of other guests around the hotel.
 
Twenty six-year-old Tochukwu, her attacker, who reportedly hails from Enugu, sensing that the deal had flopped and his vaunting ambition of becoming rich overnight was effectively over, at least temporarily, was said to have taken to his heels immediately.
 
Thereafter, the first set of eyewitnesses rushed Faith, who was at the time almost unconscious, to a private clinic where she was quickly stitched in her stomach and breast which had at the time started dripping with blood.
  
However, by the next day the young girl had developed complications, leading to her eventual death on Sunday.
 
Faith’s death filtered into her Biogbolo community on Monday, and quickly got reactions that snowballed into what could have been a major ethnic clash, lasting days or weeks, but for the quick intervention of security agencies.
 
While the manhunt for the culprit is continuing, THISDAY gathered that the hotel owner and two other suspects have already been arrested by the police and are telling the police what they know about the incident.
  
Following the girl’s death, her friends commenced a protest, brandishing green leaves and condemning what they described as grave violence on Faith. The protest once it got heavier, became violent.
  
The protesters said that members of Biogbolo community suspected that Tochukwu wanted to use vital parts of the victim’s body for ritual purposes.
  
An elder brother of the deceased, Stephen Pius, alleged that the suspect cut his younger sister twice each in her stomach and her heart region, raising suspicions that it was beyond a mere fight between two lovers.
  
The demonstration immediately raised tension in Yenagoa as the angry youths took to the streets to register their anger over the death of young Faith.
  
Several of the aggrieved youths were said to have attacked shops and vandalised vehicles reportedly owned by the kinsmen of the lover boy along some streets in the area, especially Opollo, where they own several shops. 
 
Operators of business outfits closed shop and immediately ran for cover, with the streets deserted in just a few minutes.
 
It was a day that many who were unfortunate to be caught in the crossfire, regretted coming out of their houses. While some properties were torched, others were vandalised around Ebis and Green Villa, particularly.
 
Armed with dangerous weapons, it was gathered that scores from both sides were injured before the arrival of the armed security operatives.
 
But like all stories of its kind, many versions of the incident continue to emerge almost on a daily basis.
 
A version said that the suspect, whom some say is a former tenant to the victim’s father lured the girl into his hotel room with N500 and inflicted injuries on the victim.
 
Yet, one other strand of the story said that the deceased resisted attempts by the suspect to have sex with her after they got into the guest house, resulting in an altercation.
 
In all, none of the accounts can be said to be watertight, since nobody was there when the incident happened and Tochukwu, who is still at large at the time this report, is yet to tell his own version.
 
After many hours of rage, a combined heavily armed force of the Nigerian army, the police and a detachment of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were able to bring calm to the city.
 
But the Bayelsa State Government in its reaction, called for restraint, saying that it was working closely with security agencies to apprehend the culprit.
 
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, the government urged residents of the state to remain calm and avoid any further act that will disrupt the existing peace in the state.
  
It warned residents against taking the laws into their hands in a fit of rage, stressing that it condemns the dastardly act in very strong terms.
  
“It is purely a criminal act and the state security agencies are working tirelessly to unravel the mystery behind the killings,” the government said.
  
However, Obuebite said the deceased was not mutilated, saying the police commissioner had confirmed that the remains of the teenage girl were found intact.
  
To douse the tension, he advised residents against taking the death of the young girl as ethnic or tribal, and called on them to allow the law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties of unraveling the mystery surrounding the incident.
 
“More so, the state Police Commissioner has assured the Bayelsa State Government that his men will stop at nothing to fish out the perpetrator (s) of the dastardly act and bring them to book.
 
“The government is committed to ensuring that the state is peaceful and we assure the family of Miss Faith of the support of the state government, security agents and the good people of the state,” the Bayelsa State government said.
  
On his own part, Mr. Oforji Oboku, the caretaker committee chairman of Yenagoa, called on the people of Biogbolo-Epie community to be peaceful and law-abiding as efforts were ongoing to resolve the killing of their 18-year-old daughter.
  
Oboku, who spoke in an interview with newsmen after a meeting involving him, the police and the community chiefs at Biogbolo Town Hall, described the incident as “regrettable”.
 
He said that a committee had been set up to handle the matter with a view to bringing justice to the grieving family and the community.
 
“We are working very hard, and we are gathering more information. What we want to do is to see that justice is done by apprehending the culprit. The committee had swung into action, and had started getting results only for violence to break out again,” Oboku said.
 
The council boss also appealed to Igbo traders in the community to stay away in the meantime until such a time that it would be expedient for them to return.
 
“It will not be long we will ask them to return and start their normal businesses. They (the Igbo traders) are aware that somebody died and it’s painful.
  
“That is the reason why the shops should temporarily close down, and hopefully we will call them to return to their shops,” he stated.
 
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Asuquo Amba,  warned the people against taking the law into their own hands, assuring that the police had interrogated eyewitnesses and would soon arrest the fleeing suspect.
 
Amba said that the death of the young girl had changed the entire complexion of the case as the police was treating it as physical assault leading to bodily harm before the girl’s passing away.
 
“But now that the girl has died, we are now treating a case of murder against one suspect.
 
“Though the suspect’s name sounds as if he is from one area, people should not take the law into their own hands because we don’t know who he is.
 
“We have a definite picture of the suspect. Eyewitnesses’ account in the hotel has given us a strong clue. I know some people are associating it to ritual killing, but we cannot conclude yet,” Amba said.
 
As at last Thursday, Igbo traders in the town, it was learnt, had also decided to lock their shops in solidarity with the deceased and her family until Tochukwu was arrested and made to face the law.