I SET HER ON FIRE AND CALLED HER MUM TO SAY I HAVE BURNT YOUR DAUGHTER: MARIAM WAS OLDER THAN ME AND I THOUGHT SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD GIRL AND GUIDE ME BUT…
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Victor Orji, I am 18 years old. I was born on July 9, 2001. I am from Benue State. My mother is from Enugu State while my father is from Benue State Olatagba Abadi Local Government. I attended Al-Barka Primary School and I moved to Oduduwa Junior High School and I moved down to Gbagada Senior Grammar School, Lagos. I completed my secondary education in 2016.
The lady you set ablaze, who is now deceased, was said to be your girlfriend, when did you start dating?
We had been dating since February 28, 2019. I met her through a friend.
What was she doing when both of you met and became friends?
She was a sex worker. I was aware of that. Initially, our intention was not to date each other. I only wanted to have sex with her and pay her off.
How did you get yourself into this situation?
It started on a Monday. I gave her some money to make her hair. She went to Badagry for the hairdo because I did not have enough on me. On a normal day, if she wanted to make her hair, she used to go to Lagos Island to get it done. She left around 7:15am and returned around 8:30pm.
I tried to find out why she came back at that time. I told her the following day (Tuesday) to take her bag and leave. She immediately took her bag and she left. She came back on Wednesday with a female friend. I wasn’t at home at that time. When I got back and saw her and her friend, Olamide, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause a scene while her friend was there. So, we settled our quarrel.
On Thursday, she said she wanted to see her sister who had just delivered a baby at Sango Ota in Ogun State. She also said she would use the opportunity to see her family. So, she left. But I wasn’t convinced she was going to see her family. So I called her mum and asked if she knew where her daughter was and her mother said no. But I told her what her daughter told me.
Her mum, unsure of what to say, gave flimsy excuses to cover up for her. I knew her mum always asked me to forgive her. I felt it was becoming the usual situation.
So, on Friday (of the same week), she returned in the night but before then, in the morning, I had called her. I had already blocked her number. I called to ask when she would return home but her phone was switched off. After calling her for about three hours without success, I blocked her line.
Then suddenly, she started calling me, but it indicated a private number. After calling several times, I picked up. She said, “Victor, I am at home now.”
At home, she said everything was fine. I told her her mother had said she did not know where she was. She responded by asking if her mother would know everywhere she went. Then I got angry again and told her to pack her bag and leave. She called someone; I suspected that the person said he was not around so there was no way she could go there that night. So, she begged me to forgive her and I left her alone but I was sure she called someone because I saw the name (Kunle).
I asked who Kunle was and she said it was one doctor that used to give her medicine. After her explanation, I forgave her and allowed her to stay but she slept in the sitting room and I slept in the bedroom. In the morning, I checked her phone after trying different passwords. I saw the number she called. I checked Snapchat and saw videos of her. She was in a hotel taking hard drugs and having fun. So I took the phone to the sitting room to confront her. I slapped her across the face and she woke up. She already knew what she did. She ran to the kitchen and locked the kitchen door.
I asked her why she closed the door and if I didn’t look like someone that could scold her. She didn’t respond. Then I went to the backyard and tried to come in through the door leading out. When I got in, she pointed a knife at me. I ran to the bedroom to pick up a mop. When she saw me with it, she threw the knife away and ran to the backyard where I kept my generator. There was a keg of petrol there; she brought out the petrol.
Are you saying she was the one who brought out the petrol?
Yes. She was saying, “Victor, if you want to kill me, kill me”. I was able to overpower her. I put the keg of petrol down and went inside to get a lighter. I snapped the lighter.
Are you denying that you doused her with petrol?
It not like I doused her with the fuel. She was with the fuel but in the process of trying to take the keg of petrol from her, the fire started. I was the one that picked up the lighter and used it.
Were you not aware of the implication of such an action?
When I was in school I read a lot about fire, gas and lot of that, I was not thinking properly at that moment.
I wasn’t even angry or happy. I don’t know what really happened.
Did you actually weigh the consequences of your action?
I wasn’t thinking. When she was on fire, I ran outside to pick up a fire extinguisher but I didn’t know it was beside me because I wasn’t thinking. I even opted for water but I once heard that water would worsen something like.
I ran to the bedroom to get a duvet which I used to cover her immediately to put out the fire. It wasn’t even up to a minute, let me just say it all happened in about 59 seconds because everything happened really fast.
What did you do after that?
I called her mother and told her I had burnt her daughter and she hung up. I was confused and began to shout for help. Instead, people tied me up.
Now that the law has caught up with you, how prepared are you to face the consequences?
I won’t lie, I am not prepared. If I had taken a second to think about it, I would not be in this mess. I am still young; I have dreams and goals to accomplish in my life.
Within the little time we spent together, I understood her. She did things that she was not proud of and I was the only one that understood that. She said she had a five-year-old child and had to go through a lot of things. She had to leave her father’s house and that led her into prostitution. She said some friends introduced her to prostitution. She also told me she was going to stop and that she needed someone to take care of her, so I promised to take care of her.
How old was she?
She told me she was going to be 24 years old on December 28, 2019.
That means she was about six years older than you.
When I was in school, I never had a girlfriend. And when I was looking for a girlfriend, I met her and felt she was more experienced in life and would be able to guide me. Also, I felt that because of the things she had gone through, she wouldn’t behave like other girls out there. I felt I wouldn’t have to worry that she was going to cheat on me, especially since she also had a child.
What were you doing for a living?
I was into Internet fraud. I had been doing since 2016.
How much did you make from fraud?
What I used to get was not so much. At times, I got $1,500, at times $1,000. I’m really good at saving. I don’t like going out. I might just stay at home for like three months and save.
How were you operating your ‘Yahoo’ business?
I always used Instagram. I would go to some pages and follow people. Once they accepted, I would send them a message. From there, relationship would develop. If I realised that the person was interested, other things would follow. I could make demands, etc. You can’t get anything from some people.
The law has already caught up with you. What do you have to say about this incident?
There’s always consequence for every action. This is the consequence of my own action.
Are you prepared to face the consequences?
I’m scared but I know that between going to jail and facing death, I prefer death.
You mean you prefer death to serving jail term?
Yes; I prefer death. I cannot go to jail for two months. If I go to jail, my life will be messed up.
So you prefer to be killed for killing your girlfriend…
Yes, because that’s what everybody is saying now. They are saying something like “I’m not supposed to be human – that I must be an animal to have killed someone”. I didn’t even do it intentionally. But it has happened.