Fleeing The Rigors Of Lagos, I Run Into The Hands Of A Serial Killer
I’ve been on a self-imposed quarantine since I concluded my national service year in November last year amidst the uncurbed unemployment pandemic in Nigeria, just around the exact same time a new strain of the coronavirus had developed in the Hubei province, Wuhan, China.
From Cross River state where I had lived my NYSC experience for an unbroken one year period, I travelled to be with my sister and her husband in Ogun state instead of going back to my father’s house in Lagos.
My memorable time in the cocoa-rich town of Etomi in Etung, Cross River ignited a passion to stay in a fresh new environment.
I had grown so attached to Lagos where I had lived my whole life prior to my NYSC year, but Etomi would whet my appetite for a nouveau life.
I would stay at the couple’s apartment in the town of Ogere till early 2020 when we moved to their newly built home in a developing estate located in a town closer to Shagamu, only briefly returning to Lagos for the end of the year with my father and siblings long unseen.
Ogun reminds me of Cross River; large expanses of flora with evenly distributed fauna. The abundance of clean air and the dearth of noise pollution grants us a sort of tranquil security, at least until someone deliberately decides to concoct a new cauldron of commotion.
Between the two close-knit communities of my present and past habitation, there was a growing concern about a certain menace no matter how little was said about it.
A known madman had been on the loose after cutting down two people about two weeks into the imposed lockdown by the state government, no thanks to the new COVID-19 cases in Ogun. He went on attacking a couple of people days after these recent murders.
A mother of five went missing from the evening of the following week and we were left to speculate what happened to her days after her disappearance.
At this point, all denizens of Ogere and Iperu could do was to walk on the eggshells of caution. As a new resident in this part of Ogun state, the crime rate had become such a worrisome issue.
We enjoyed a quiet and scantily populated environment, but these enjoyable characteristics of our environs were choked by a series of unfortunate incidents.
Despite the restriction order placed on our movement to curb the spread of COVID-19, there had been multiple cases of theft and homicide in the month of May alone.
The frequency of criminal activities forced most residential areas and developing estates to acquire vigilante groups as security forces at night.
Our neighbourhood has more dogs in a single estate than I’ve ever seen in any other place I have lived before – about every home has a fierce dog attending to passersby.
The police had also had its Rapid Response Squad patrol our environs every night for as long as I could remember. But the last two people killed by this serial killer were security men while the last major burglary occurred a few buildings away from my house with all our canines sniffing and the police patrolling so close by. You would walk around our streets and hear no words of fear, but you’ll begin to feel the chill in the air as the sun made its daily trips to the west and out of our sight.
Windows started to close securely and doors were sealed shut. We got used to the gunshots resounding in the air and warning prospective trespassers as each day dissolved into the night, but no one was assured of security still. Like an accidental reanimation of a mad warrior, this man roamed our streets looking for his next prey.
His home community fittingly named him Spartan. Or he named himself so, for he acknowledged the moniker himself.
I was really surprised by this man’s alias. Of course, there are numerous cases of the mentally ill going by nicknames in cities where they abound and are left to roam. I was only surprised that this particular man was well known yet he was allowed to roam freely.
His nickname implies that the community knew about his violent tendencies long before now, he is said to be a citizen of Ogere town.
His family is known and his siblings have been aware of his condition all along. Strangely, Spartan –who is erroneously referred to as Spartacus by some– seemed to be less mentally unstable than completely mad. He usually made conversations appropriately, he could distinguish individual residents of his community, and he knew the geography of his home community so well.
This was no cuckoo, not in a traditional sense. Apparently, Spartan has a social media presence and he managed a Facebook account.
Now, this was a very interesting character. Initially, we were told that he was a madman so we already had the image of a full-fledged lunatic in mind.
However, his identity becomes a bit complicated when you check his Facebook profile. Feyisola Spartan Freeman writes “. . .I am esoteric” on his bio and his recent posts from 2019 are as esoteric as they come. There are scores of posts with jargons, words and phrases hardly sensible but suspicious.
Many words implied that he was an initiate of a private organization or a secret cult. There is also a post in which he refers to himself as a ‘proper madman’. There are also several posts about drugs and violence. We can only make conjectures; a young man mentally impaired after years of drug abuse or a serial killer hiding under the cloak of insanity.
On one of those mornings when an unemployed me had sat through the night reading anything, my siblings were awoken earlier than usual by a phone call.
My brother-in-law was informed by a colleague of his that two of the security personnel positioned close to one of their company’s buildings were attacked by an unknown assailant and their condition was unknown too.
A few minutes later, my brother and this colleague of his drove to work in the earlier hours of that day. On his return, he confirmed the brutal deaths of those security men. Whoever did it must have had assistance as he mercilessly cut down these men with a machete.
The wounds were so sharp and deep with no particular care for the location of the slashes. One of the men was well past middle age while the other was a youth still in his twenties. The youth suffered more blows from the blade of his attacker.
There was barely a part of his body that was left uncut, he seemed to be the real target. Speculations of members of a rival cult group being the perpetrators of the crime were only dispersed when this Spartan was confirmed to be the attacker.
A few days later, he cut someone else down. His next target luckily got out of his reach escaping with no lethal cuts. Under a week of these incidents, both communities of Ogere and Iperu suddenly became an ideal site for an episode of a slashed horror reality, and I was home alone in the middle of most of it.
My housemates are essential workers. They usually leave home at 7 am and aren’t back till 7 pm, working from Monday till Saturday.
I would always lock up the double gates and the door of our house immediately they drove out, never to leave the locked vault till they returned.
Our fence was low, we were yet to install a gate, and we were separated from the only other inhabitants of our street by a few uncompleted buildings. I dreaded walking down any street alone, as did everyone else who knew of Spartan.
I’d find solace in following international news on Al Jazeera and the BBC, a lot of interesting stories had sprung up amid the global COVID-19 saga. Work was reinvented, crimes were soaring, and politics was pivotal.
A few friends were online, willing to recount how they were handling lockdown and how they eventually got to step out.
I self-diagnosed artistic impotence when I couldn’t produce even the simplest of visual arts after a six-year hiatus, despite the encouragement of a close friend who’s also an artist.
For this reason, I went on exile from Twitter where I had been so active for the first half of the year. I would then spend days trying to summon the courage to transfer my imagination onto a sketchpad with no success. Some weeks would account for a few more deaths by the blunt blade of Spartan.
The woman who was missing was eventually found in an abandoned building, her corpse with multiple mutilations. Her five young children would probably not hear of this savagery exerted upon their mother’s body.
A decapitated corpse was found on the street adjacent mine about a month before this mother went missing. Spartan was not the only killer in our community, but he was the bravest and most diligent psychopath around.
Tuesday, the 25th of August 2020 saw the final apprehension of this sadistic criminal. Officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad and some unmarked vigilantes had been deployed a day before.
A volley of gunshots tore the afternoon peace asunder on Monday but the wanted man evaded his pursuers. It was alleged that Spartan was shot thrice but his skin was not penetrated by the bullets.
He is said to have dared the police to approach him with a gesture of intoxicated arrogance before retreating. He was surrounded, shot at, and teargassed on Tuesday afternoon before being rounded up.
He sustained no gunshot wounds but was somewhat disoriented when the vigilantes recovered him from the pit they pulled him out of.
Thrown into a police van without cuffs on his wrists or chains on his ankles, he was cowering on the floor of the truck and was surprisingly unresponsive.
He simply laid down and turned lazily like a tranquilized beast even though the security forces did not affirm if they had used tranquilizers.
The whole community was animated as soon as news of his capture broke, those closer to the police station went over to see this man who had terrorized us for so long. Our mental lockdown can end now with most of the communal paranoia evaporating in an instant.
The ever agitated townspeople will be heaving a sigh of relief. On the day Nigeria went into partial lockdown, I took an afternoon stroll in my new neighborhood not worrying about a machete just lying in wait for my flesh.