Miffed by the over-reaching reports in both social and conventional media on the serial killing of women in hotels in recent times, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that only eight cases of such murders occurred that were verifiable in Port Harcourt City, the state capital.
The police also denied the media reports making the rounds that two women were killed, last Monday, in an undisclosed hotel along Peter Odili Road axis in Port Harcourt, adding that such reports were orchestrated by their sponsors to over-reach the command.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura stated this while briefing newsmen at the command’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, yesterday, on the rising cases of murder in hotels, adding that the two suspects that have already been arrested in connection with the killings would be charged to court when investigations are concluded.
He explained that the victims were always rapped with white cloth material around the neck or waist region, which he alleged signified cult action, adding that the suspects usually drugged their victims before strangulating them to death.
According to him, without such action, it would be difficult to kill the victims as the act may attract attention of people nearby.
He further hinted that the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and other security operatives in the state have been placed on red alert to apprehend the suspected cultists and ritualists.
Mustapha insisted that forthwith, all hotel customers would be profiled, with their valid identification cards placed at the reception unit.
“All hotel customers will be profiled. Those with swimming pools will also have expert divers in case of any emergency”, he said.
“We now have a task force, no more short-time service in hotels. Every customer must book full time”, he added.
Dandaura said the essence the briefing was to express the command’s concerns over the mindless killings in hotels in the state, which he said, were giving the command bad image, adding that measures have been put in place to arrest the disturbing situation.
According to him, in the wake of the development, a meeting under the aegis of Nigerian Hotels Association (NHA), being the umbrella body of hotel owners in the state, was called, and a one-month ultimatum was given to all hotel and motel owners to install closed circuit television (CCTV) within the specified period, warning that failure to adhere to the mandatory resolution would attract severe punishment.
The state CP averred that the meeting also took an action to constitute a nine-member task force drawn from the police, DSS, hotel association and the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which would be headed by the ACP Operations at the command.
“The task force will, among other things, enforce compliance on the installation of functional CCTV in all hotels, guest houses and motels to cover the reception, corridors and entrances, strict compliance to check-in and check-out procedures, guest identity cards, phone details, registration of visitors, training of hotel staff on security and safety tips in partnership with the police and other security agencies”, he stated.
The CP, however, regretted that despite the huge efforts being made by the command to nip in bud this criminal tendency, some hotel owners were yet to comply with the directives on the installation of CCTVs in their various hotels.
“Regrettably, it has come to my notice and utter shock that some hotels are yet to comply with my directive, hence, my order to arrest the manager, receptionist and desk officers in the two hotels where two separate murders were recorded, and they will be investigated, and if found culpable, will be charged for culpable homicide”, Dandaura said.
“Today, I want to reinforce our commitment towards tackling this menace, and assure you that we have come to the end of these monstrous acts by desperate cultists and ritualists”, he added.
Dandaura appealed to the good people of the state to remain calm as the command was on top of the situation, and would spear no efforts in dealing with perpetrators of the inhuman act, even as he linked the killings to cultism.
“This serial killer will strangle his victim to death and a white handkerchief will be tied to her waist or neck without any part of the body removed. This proves to be cultism”, he added.
He disclosed that two hotels have been closed in defiance to the directives, and urged parents to advise their female daughters to shun prostitution.
The Tide learnt that some women groups in the state, including the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and others have concluded plans to stage protests against the ugly development in the state, today.
Similarly, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that the lifeless body of another middle-aged woman allegedly killed by serial murderers has been found in a hotel near Rumuola in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the state.
The police explained that the corpse of the victim was discovered in one of the rooms at the facility located near the Rumuola flyover, when the cleaners went for house-keeping.
However, the police have sealed the hotel following the incident, which they claim, was being investigated.
The identity of the victim, whose body has been deposited in the morgue of an undisclosed hospital, is yet to be ascertained as no form of identification was found on her.
An official of the hotel, who did not want his name in print, told newsmen that the man who took the lady to the room may not have given his real identity at the reception, as it was later discovered that he wrote down an invalid phone number before checking in.
The source further said that all details, including customer register, have been handed over to the police.
Spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni had told The Tide, last Monday, that measures were being put in place to stop the disturbing trend.
“The command is seriously worried about this development, that is the killings in hotels and we are putting measures in place that will curtail these criminal activities.
“It is a disturbing trend. The last incident was the one that happened in certain hotel in Rumuola. It is still being investigated. We have invited the manager and the desk officer and receptionist and they are helping us in our investigations.
“This killing of middle-aged women with the story we are working on now, I think it is likely to be a syndicate, and I can assure you that we are going to bring them down because it has been always the same style of killing,” Omoni said.
He further said that the police is open to speaking with stakeholders with a view to putting an end to serial killing of young girls in hotels in the State.
Speaking on the development, Secretary of the NHA, Theophillus Koko, who disclosed this when he appeared on a life radio programme in Port Harcourt, last Monday, said already a task force has been constituted to visit hotels and enforce compliance.
Koko also disclosed that the association is talking with security agencies to arrest those behind the killings in hotels.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Security Council says it was working round the clock to ensure that the recent disturbing killing of young women was stopped, and the perpetrators made to face the full weight of the law.
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, stated that over the last few weeks, the State Security Council under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike, has put in place measures to secure the lives of young women who have been targeted by serial killers.
He stated that the security agencies have been mandated to work with hotels and their managements to implement security measures that would end the ugly trend.
Danagogo said that the Rivers State Government remains committed to the security of lives and property, assuring that in no distant time, the Rivers State Security Council would end the ugly trend.
He added that the government through relevant agencies was embarking on mass sensitization of the people on security measures, and assured Rivers people that the Wike administration would continue to work for the promotion of security.
Reacting to the incident, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has advised young people, especially women to exercise extreme caution in their social lives,
In a statement in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday, Banigo said ”as a mother who has gone through the three trimesters of pregnancy and labour, she understands how it feels to lose a grown up child in such a gruesome manner”.
She also warned them not to follow friends or strangers to any destination or business meeting without notifying family members of their movement, stressing that they must resist the temptation of accepting lifts, food or drinks from strangers to avoid being drugged, abducted, raped or killed.
The statement further advised people to ensure that there is a little air time in their phones to call or send SMS for help in the event of an emergency.