Living in Bondage & Otokoto Riot 1996

Okay, let’s do something different today.

I am very late to the Living in Bondage sequel party but I’ve got some things to share after watching the movie. This isn’t usually my kind of post but I felt it would still be good to stay on my diary for record pu

I read a post where someone criticized Charles Okpaleke, Ramsey Noah and the entire Living in Bondage – Breaking Free crew for misrepresenting the Igbos and telling the whole world that Igbos are ritualists.

A scene from Living in Bondage – Breaking Free

Just in case you have forgotten, this is a refresher of Okotoko Saga which gave birth to what is popularly known as Otokoto Riot 1996. You can read up about it if you wish. The plot of Living in Bondage sequel is centred around the fictitious surviving members of the ritualists who in reality terrorized Owerri Imo State.

Precisely 19th September 1996, Anthony Ikechukwu Okoronkwo, a groundnut seller was lured into the then-popular Otokoto Hotel, drugged and beheaded. His organs were taken too. The killer by name, Innocent proceeded to go deliver his head to Chief Leonard Unaogu whose brother, Laz Unaogu was a serving minister under General Abacha.

After the crime was busted, more than 24 dead bodies were found buried in the same hotel. Lots of other crimes with regards to years of ritual killings was traced to the popular Otokoto Hotel.

Ekeanyanwu, the killer, with the head of Anthony Okoroknwo

The ritual killing had been going on for a very long time in Owerri at that time, people had always suspected this, they had felt terror and Ill-treatment from the hands of various millionaire of that time who were very influential and strongly connected. There were many secret societies in Owerri then which had raised people’s eyebrows on the uncertainties of the wealth of some of the members.

Chief Vincent Duru, the owner of the hotel who was one of the masterminds behind the killings also had a son who was leading a major secret cult known as Black Scorpion. They were committed to major crimes like kidnapping, robbery and killings! He was sentenced to death by firing squad along with other seven persons.

The shallow grave where the remains Anthony Okoronkwo was buried.

The killer who killed Anthony died a few days after his arrest by food poisoning and it was discovered later that some of the police in charge of the case was working for the syndicates. About 9 policemen were involved in this. Another suspect died of mysterious circumstances where he was held in prison while Chief Vincent Duru was executed on Sunday, 13th November 2016, 13 years after his conviction in 2003 for a crime committed in 1996.

The ritual killing has been happening and it is still happening. This isn’t the question of whether blood money works, this is about ritual killings – whatever they do with it, we don’t know.

Though not necessarily needful, it is even worthy of note that Chief Duru got one of his female jailers pregnant and did traditional marriage rites before he was executed.

Otokoto Riot 1996 – Otokoto Hotel being pulled down by protesters.

Ritual killings started a long time ago and Otokoto killings in particular allegedly started within the time Nigeria got independent. No wonder it was so prominent that the first Nollywood movie had to tell the story of ritual killings which eventually led to many more movies portraying same probably because of the success and acceptance Living in Bondage enjoyed.

While fiction, Living in Bondage was based on real events. Twenty years after the first movie, Charles Okpaleke and others involved revived the story with a thrilling continuation which was released as Living in Bondage -Breaking Free.

Personally, I think it is unfair when we criticise what needs no criticism. We talk as though those things didn’t happen, we pretend like what we saw in the movies weren’t close to reality. Why do we always feel defensive when it seems it has to do with us but okay when it seems it has to do with others?

Chief Vincent Duru (aka Chief Otokoto)

People choose the story they want to tell, Charles Okpaleke and his team chose to revive a story and continue the discussion. In all sincerity, they did a bit of justice to this story in their own fashion and anyone criticising it needs a refresher.

For me, Charles Okpaleke and his team, using Living in Bondage -Breaking Free, brought to light, that even though we feel justice has been met in the case of Anthony Okonkwo and several others, there are still a lot of them out there who seem untouchable.

And Ramsey Noah? Being his debut role as a movie director, he did a fantastic job.