In January 2021, a then National Youth Service Corps member, Chidinma Paschaline Odume, stood trial over the murder of Akwaowo Japheth. Exactly one year later, she has been discharged, following the Nolle Prosequi entered by the Attorney General of the State.
The Presiding judge, Hon. Justice Bassey Nkanang, in his ruling, struck out the case and discharged the accused person following the Nolle Prosequi of the Attorney General, dated 10th January, 2022. The Court noted that the action was pursuant to section 211 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 71 of the Criminal Code Procedure Law of Akwa Ibom State. “This case shall be and is hereby struck out and the accused person accordingly discharged.” The Court ruled. Nolle Prosequi is a formal notice of discontinuation of the pros.
We had the opportunity to speak with Chidinma in this exclusive interview and she narrates her experience to us while the nightmare lasted a full year while she was in the Uyo custodial centre waiting for the ruling.
Congratulations on your recently served justice.
Thank you so much.
Tell me, How does it feel?
I feel so so happy, I feel so great, most especially I give all the Glory to God because he made this possible. I also thank God for a God-fearing Judge that he used. I’m so excited, very excited because I have finally been reunited with my family and loved ones. I’m also happy and grateful for the people God used to give me this victory. Honestly speaking words can never describe or express how I really feel. There is this joy inside of me that i know will never depart form my life.
Many people never got to hear your side of the story in detail, would you be able to take us through the event of that ill-fated day?
It was on the 10th day of January 2021 being on Sunday at around 9:30 am. I left my house that fateful day to buy food. I met this guy who approached and we exchange pleasantries. He appeared nice and asked me what I do for a living, and I told him that I’m a corper. He then told me about his parents,how they will be able to assist me if I’m done with my Youth Service. He told to come home with him atleast to say hi to the parents so that they will know me. I objected to that but after series of beggings and persuasions I gave in. When we got to the house he took me straight to him room and told me to make my self comfortable that he wants to go and put on the generator for me because the house was hot I said okay no problem and also requested to see his parents. I sat down waiting for him to come back inside. It seemed to me that he was wasting time so immediately I got up reaching to the door someone violently opened the door, it was him. He bagged into the room with a big Cutlass with his eyes pure red. When I saw him with that I quickly jumped on the bed with a hot urine that accompanied me out of shock. Next thing he commanded me to remove all my clothes that he will rape me and kill me then cut my parts and bury my remains. I cried, I shouted but he told me that even if I shout from now till tomorrow that nobody will hear me and that his generator was on and he had locked his gate. I kept crying, screaming I almost got tired. I wanted to give in but I heard a voice that said I should fight for my life. He then rushed me with the Cutlass, and two of us started dragging it. I struggled with him, he will will punch me, slap me but I didn’t mind. The Cutlass was so sharp that it cut my palm seriously. In the process of the struggle he said to me and I quote” You are proving to be strong, I have met so many of your type and they didn’t end well. I was not discouraged because I already made up my mind to fight, even if I died I will know that I fought. He kept on punching me with all the struggles. When he realized that I was not ready to give up he forcefully pushed me with his body and I fell down on the floor. So he rushed out, that moment I got up tried to run but he locked the door, I stayed back used his bedspread to atleast clean my palm because of the blood that was coming out from it. He rushed back inside with a smaller knife, “note” he was still with the Cutlass saying that he is going to stab me to death that I’m proving to be strong.
At that point he saw stains of blood on the wall, on the floor even on his bedspread, he commanded me to pick up the bedspread and go inside the bathroom to wash it. I was crying I told him that my palm hurts and that I don’t know where his bathroom was so he stood one place directing me to enter. Meanwhile he was still with the Cutlass and the small knife fear didn’t allow me to pass him, I begged him to please drop the weapons so he dropped the Cutlass by his side, with the small knife he was ordering me to enter inside the bathroom. I was scared he might kill me if I enter there.
Then I looked by the side I saw a door I quickly threw away the bedspread and ran inside there and it was a kitchen. I jammed the door but he reached out to the Cutlass and was hitting it on the door trying to break it while pushing it. He went back and pushed with force and fell inside the kitchen I had to quickly get up and ran out and jammed the door behind him. So then he got up and was dragging the door with me trying to open it and also to break it down with the Cutlass that he had. I was still crying screaming calling God to come and help me that i don’t want to die, I have not offended anyone since I came to Akwa Ibom and that I only came here to serve, I cried to the extent that there was no longer strength in me. He was inside there vowing to slaughter me once he breaks the door. Immediately after making this prayer my eyes went on the floor. In front of that kitchen door that small knife was there so I had to pick it up immediately. He was almost at the verge of breaking that door when I saw the knife and picked it. I quietly waited for him to break the door and come out. When that happened I quickly rushed him and stabbed him he knelt down, while kneeling down he raised the matchet to use on me I rushed him and collected the matchet from him to inflict more cuts on him so that I can escape. I ran out behold the gate was locked, I ran back inside behold I saw bunch of keys so I packed some but none opened the gate. I didn’t know what to do, I now ran around the house and saw a ladder so I climbed the ladder.
Note, during this period of time I was still naked. When I jumped down from the fence people saw me naked with blood stains all over my body. They held me till they entered that house, when they came out they shouted that I killed someone I tried to explain but they didn’t give me chance to. They beat me to a point of death. I was unconscious, lying helpless on the ground they now brought fuel and poured on me to burn me.
That was when the police arrived miraculously and took me away, straight to the station.
So he was not your boyfriend as has been peddled? He was never my boyfriend as I met him on the day of that incidence.
Effiong Scott was one of the ladies who had testified that he was a rapist, and maybe a serial one at that. In the course of this quest for justice, did you get more ladies coming out to testify against him?
Yes I did but some of them didn’t want to be mentioned. I can only mention Effiong Laurel Scott and Ruth Bessong Essien. These two were of good help in the course of the investigation. They also did their possible best to come and see me at the station and also put in their report as evidence.
What was your strongest evidence in court? The fact that he had so many pending rape cases and the fact that he was already on trial for some rape cases when he fled and was no where to be found till I encountered him.
What gave you faith and hope through this process? Almighty God and the fact that I acted in self defense.
How was your experience with the police? It was not bad, they really helped me in the cause of the investigation.
Has this entire experience birthed anything in you that you didn’t know you had? Yes the fact that I thought I knew God but I really didn’t and that God saved me out of his abundant Love and Mercy. I thank God for this situation because it has really drawn me closer to God Almighty and made me to know that really there is God.
How would you want history to remember you, as against what the social media has today? I want to be remembered for my braveness and I also want to be remembered as one who God showed Mercy.
What does the future hold for you? I was a serving corp member when this happened. So I hoping that NYSC will release my certificate sooner than later and that God will bless me with a good job.
What is your advice to other ladies? In this world we are living, we really don’t know who is who but my advice is that in everything that you do or want to do you should always put God first, ask him for directions and for protection and also they should give their life to God because he is the author and finisher of our faith.
Thanks so much for taking time to speak with us.
Thanks a lot.