Rivers serial killer, Gracious David-West, moves to avoid death

Rivers serial killer, Gracious David-West, moves to avoid death

Saturday, November 13, 2021 2:14 pm

Gracious David West at Rivers State Police Command before he was paraded at the Police

Gracious David West at Rivers State Police Command before he was paraded at the Police

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Many Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when in October 202O, Gracious David- West was convicted by a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt of the murder of at least nine young women and attempted murder of another woman identified as Miss Benita Etim.

The death sentence on the self confessed serial killer looked like a fitting end to the horrible life of a calculative and meticulous murderer whose threat to the society to the society was never in doubt.

But like a typical case of a killer who will not even want someone with a sword to come near him, Gracious David- West is now seeking to escape from the hangman’s noose, according to his lawyer.

His lawyer, Christian Chuku, has revealed that he has filed an appeal at Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, to challenge the judgement, which found his client, guilty of murder and attempted murder and sentenced him to death by hanging in 2020.

No doubt, the appeal of the death sentence will reopen a blood-curdling, murderous saga which many Nigerians would rather want to be consigned to the history books.

Killed 15 women

David West was arrested after frantic search by the police in Rivers for a serial killer who specialised to taking young women for lodging overnight in hotels and abandoning them dead after they have been strangled mostly with sheets of the beds in 2019.

The serial killer was meticulous and methodical in his murderous activities – he carefully picked hotels located in relatively obscure area in any chosen city mostly, those without Close Circuit Television, CCTV.

He searched for good looking young sex workers or ladies who hang around hotels looking for a fling and lured them in for the night with irresistible offers of affection and benevolence.

The discovery of remains of young women, obviously strangled to death by a man who has taken them in for the night led to protests women groups and activists in Port Harcourt, where most of the killings took place.

The women group had asked the police to initiate measures to unravel the identity of the felon behind the killings.

Mustapha Daura, then then Rivers Commissioner of Police was put on under pressure to find the serial killer and one of his immediate action was to compel all the hotels in Rivers State to install CCTV Camera in their premises and to be more rigorous in taking down personal details of their guests.

Police efforts paid off as eventually, the image of the serial killer emerged from the CCTV camera in one of the hotels he killed another girl.

This culminated in the arrest Gracious David -West in Bori, headquarters of Khana local government area of Rivers State in September, 2019.

He was arrested on his way to Uyo, the capital of Akwa-Ibom State.

He was subsequently paraded before journalists in Port Harcourt on 20 September, a day after he was arrested.

Gracious David-West, from Buguma in Asari-Toru local had confessed to journalists that he killed a total of 15 women during his rampage beginning from Ikeja, Lagos before he moved to Owerri,Imo State and Port Harcourt.

I don’t know why I kill women

On the motive behind his actions, he said;”I don’t know what comes over me to kill.After I have killed I feel remorse and cry for killing.But after that,the irresistible urge to kill comes over me again.I kill alone.”

“I was a member of the Degbam Cult group, I have since repented. I am not killing for any Cult group. I just kill. I don’t know what comes over me to kill.”

Gracious David-West also revealed that he survived by stealing from his victims after strangling them in addition to the chilling accounts of how he killed the young ladies.

“The first woman I killed in one of hotels at Ikeja had about N85,000 in her account.

“Before I strangulated them after love making I use the knife to cut the hotel bed sheets into a semblance of a twine which I use to bind their hands and feet, and also use the knife to threaten them. The kitchen knife was sold to me by an Aboki.I threaten that if they raised alarm I will kill them with the knife. Out of fear,they keep quiet while I raised the volume of the television set in the hotel room to dwarf any noise from my room.I never kill with the knife.”

He added that before he kills his victims, he always insisted on knowing their account balance and ATM pin.

“After strangulating them,I steal their ATM cards empty their accounts from any nearby ATM machine and move on. It is not all the girls I sleep with I kill.I only kill whenever the irresistible urge to kill overwhelms me. l don’t have a house. My mother died through poisoning from her mate and I am homeless.I sleep in hotels,” said David-West.

He also revealed that the phones he stole from his victims is sold to a customer in Waterlines Junction off Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway and another buyer around MTN office by Oil Mill Market in Port Harcourt.

David-West also confirmed that he was one of the ex-militants rehabilitated by a popular church known for its philanthropic activities in Port Harcourt, the Omega Power Ministry, OPM.

He added that the Church later secured a job for him at Federal University of Science and Technology,FUTO, Owerri, through the Church but bolted away with students’ properties.

The suspect who at point broke down in tears also told Journalists that he tried to seek spiritual deliverance from Christ Chosen Church and Salvation Ministries to no avail because he couldn’t secure accommodation to follow through.

On his part, CP Dandaura disclosed that his insistence on to install CCTVs contributed to the breakthrough in the arrest of David-West.

He stated that “The suspect is definitely not alone in these killings, though he had made useful confessions but the Command will go beyond his confessions to ensure that a conclusive end is achieved that serve the interest of Justice.” .

A Dramatic Trial

The trial of David-West was filled with drama, just as his unprovoked murders were confounding.

For one, David-West caused a stir when he appeared in a State High Court ,on Friday January 17,2020 in handcuffs, wearing green top and green shirt Correctional Centre (Prison) attire in Port Harcourt and the “5 Nights Of Glory”tag.

His appearance sent tongues waging with many wondering if he had become a member of Salvation Ministries.

And to ensure that his trial was free and fair, when he could not provide personal legal representation, the state provided a lawyer for him free for his defence.

At a time, he complained to the Judge that he was been maltreated in the Correctional Centre (Prison) by warders.

This led the presiding judge, Adolphus Enebeli, to caution the Warders against trampling on his fundamental humanrights.

Justice Enebeli even threatened to commit the warders to prison if the allegation was found to be true.

During his trial, the police tendered a statement by a friend of one of his victims David-West.

In the statement, the friend narrated how the serial killer cornered her friend, bought chicken barbecue for her, showered her with so much “love” and above all, dangled N10,000 cash before her for a night of sexual fling.

“My friend came to me excitedly that she just ran into a fortune as one man who entertained her very well at the hotel bar had promised to pay her N10,000 to sleep with him for the night.

“I congratulated her not knowing it was all a bait.

“The next morning, I knocked at hotel door,the Television was loud and no response until hotel manager was called.

“We later saw lifeless body of my friend with hands and tied and mouth gagged with white straps torn from the bed-sheet.”

The drama filled trial came to an end on Friday, 9 October when Justice Enebeli delivered his judgment with the Judge declaring David-West guilty of murder of 11 women.

‘Calculative itinerant sex predator and a robber’

The Judge subsequently convicted David-West for murder and ordered that he should die by hanging for killing 11 women in hotels Port Harcourt and environs,and attempted murder of one Benita Etim.

In his judgment, Enebeli said the prosecution team was able to convince the court that David-West was the killer of the young women found dead in various hotels in Port Harcourt.

Justice Enebeli characterized David-West thus: “He is a dedicated serial killer intelligent and educated in his crime. He said contrary to what the Defence representation of David West tried to do during the trial, he is not impulsive killer,not mentally sick, but meticulously and calculatingly carried out the murder of the eleven female victims”.

He added that David-West was “an intelligent calculative itinerant sex predator and a robber whose mode of killing followed a familiar thread”.

The second defendant, Nimi ThankGod, a female hotel manager,who was charged with one count charge of misconduct with corpse was discharged and acquitted.

“This is a trial Court,the first defendant still has the latitude to express his under the constitution. If we lawyers are briefed to pursue his constitutional rights under the Law, that we will honestly do because the accused has right of Appeal up to the Supreme Court,” his lawyer had after the judgment said. The appeal of the judgment seem to be in fulfillment of that promise.

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