Nigeria: Don’t you Know Clifford Orji, The Mad Man…?
by Prince Charles Dickson
“Person wey mad-man beat him papa if e see dirty mechanic him go run, person wey snake kill him mama dey fear earthworm”. Local axiom. Many commentaries I am sure have been written in the wake of his death, and reminders, as to the many things wrong with the Nigerian state. As usual, this is September. The typical Nigerian
phenomenon of learning so slow, forgetting so fast sets in. Every incident simply finds rest in the ‘voicemail’ as we say in local parlance–meaning we simply forget.
Many Nigerians may have forgotten him, but not many Lagosians will, he is Clifford Nwa Orji. First known Nigerian cannibal, you will forgive me, if I say ‘celebrated’ cannibal.
The news of his death filtered in on the 17th August 2012, he died of unknown causes at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos. As expected only in Nigeria do people just die of unknown causes and for full effects, an investigation committee is set up.
Clifford was arrested in February 3, 1999, and charged before an Ebute-Meta Magistrate’s Court in Lagos on February 19 of the same year. Since then, he was never tried.
When the Clif-cannibal saga broke out, the major issue was that of determining if it was a case of ‘human being parts merchandising’ or cannibalism cum insanity. It wasn’t the days of the now popular GSM, but Clifford had not only a 090 Nitel mobile phone of that era, he equally had a check of N80,000 on him.
While he was being arrested, Police at that time had reasons to believe he was insane, mentally unstable and psychologically handicapped, terms that best described a vast majority of those charged with running the affairs of this supposedly great country.
The intrigues however remained, who owned the check, whose account, amongst other loose questions, one is not ignorant of the fact that all sorts of strange and unrelated items are often found in custody of such characters. However it was a case of very little answers in the midst of many questions.
Clifford appeared in court only once and thirteen years later died in prison, was it a case of natural justice. Did Clifford feign insanity to cover a crime, like Hon. Farouk called bribe–‘a giving’.The essence here is not to vindicate him, or victimize a victim but to use him as a metaphor of a failing Nigerian system.
Who were those responsible for the Clifford case, was any of his victims ever identified. No forensic, no autopsy, nothing whatsoever to determine the cause of death of those he allegedly was eating even at the point of arrest.
13 years is not 13 hours, months or days. In recent times, we have been treated to the media blitz ‘Facebook killers’ of Cynthia who was buried over the weekend without the body because the police is still with the corpse. Will it be another 13 years tragedy?
Clifford by public court may have been guilty, but how does it feel knowing that innocent persons will be in same prison awaiting trial for over a decade, and if innocent, how would their families feel?
How could none of our psychiatric homes ascertain if Clifford was sane or not until after almost 10years when his health had deteriorated. The Nigerian Prisons medical team says it was carrying out a ‘forever’ autopsy but I am aware that the body is at a public hospital mortuary in Isolo Lagos, with the management complaining that neither the prisons nor Clifford’s family had come to pick the body and once they get ‘papers’ he would be buried.
I will end my admonition this week with Anders Behring Breivik the 33-year-old Norwegian Clifford Orji. He bombed government buildings killing 77 and injuring 242 people and then shot at a number of Labor Party supporters in July 2011.
After a court ruled him sane. Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen stated, “in a unanimous decision… the court sentences the defendant to 21 years of preventive detention,”. Experts say that Breivik will likely spend the rest of years behind bars.
Norwegians, particularly surviving victims and family are pleased with the sentencing. Survivor Tore Sinding Bekkeda told CBS News, “I am very relieved and happy about the outcome… I believe he is mad, but it is political madness and not psychiatric madness…He is a pathetic and sad little person.”
With the above, we saw a form of closure to the saga. Not more mysteries, meanwhile he would continue to be studied by all those interested from lawyers to pyscho-doctors, politicians to religious experts, multi-culturists to journalists in Norway.
We, in these clime, seem to have already forgotten Clifford Orji. Like Farouk-gate, like the naira notes once displayed on the floor of the National Assembly, there are so many cases of Clifford Orji without foreclosure–like the tell it to the dogs how some magic 15million dollars has no owner yet it was receipted matter of Ibori and Ribadu.
Bola Ige, Dele Giwa, Rewane, Ibru, Funsho Williams, Harry Marshall, June 12, Abacha’s Apple, Yar’adua’s squash and recently Dame’s medical tourism remains many a story with no head nor tail in our nation. You may not care, you may ask, who the…is Clifford Orji, but I tell you, we all know him–He is the system…until we are ready to address his issue, same system will continue to hurt, hunt and haunt us, only time will tell.
With compliments of aworship.com
True Christian Experience Online