Chidinma Ojukwu is beautiful, enchanting and voluptuous. No wonder predominant comments – especially from men-folk – on this 21-year old self-confessed killer of Lagos-based 50-year old Usifo Ataga, CEO of Super TV, are wrapped in the poser: was she a lethal, destructive woman the French call the femme fatale, or victim of a delinquent higher institution girls’ sex trade that turned awry?
The story of Chidinma, student of the University of Lagos, which is trending on the social media radar at the moment, is riveting. It is a perfect script for a crime fiction thriller. She courted massive traffic to herself due to the horror of her narrative and the shock people get upon realizing that such physical beauty she represented could be a shawl hiding a dastard cruelty of immense proportion. She is no doubt a prominent member of that cult of young girls who are completely immersed in the flesh-for-cash barter trade that is the hub of the Nigerian social circle. Chidinma had confessed to murdering, via stabbing Ataga, her sexual liaison, at a service apartment in Lekki.
The femme fatale is no doubt an invention of a patriarchal French world. She is a mysterious but beautiful mannequin whose major stock-in-trade is seduction of men. With the ensnaring charms of her enchanting beauty, this French invention uses herself as deadly bait for men which, when swallowed, becomes the death of them. Her most notorious representations are biblical characters like Delilah, Jezebel and Salome whose beauty entrapped men to their graves. The femme fatale archetype was also depicted by Irish poet and playwright, about-the-most-successful-playwright of late-Victorian London, Oscar Wilde, in his play, Salome. In the play, Salome manipulated her lustful uncle, King Herod, with an enticing Dance of the Seven Veils. After seducing him, she then asked for the head of John the Baptist, an imperious demand Herod could not decline.
Even if you were as unfeeling as to be capable of making barbecue with the ugly, bony and sparse-meat head of a tortoise, when you read the grief-provoking story of Chidinma, you will be sorry for motherhood and for the mother who begot her. From you will flow empathy for that uncertain, painful moment of delivery at the maternity ward which the Yoruba carefully parceled in the panegyric, ikunle abiyamo. How could a child, apparently born with much celebration and rejoicing, turn this tragically into a demonic man mauler?
Details of the tragic story are in the public domain and have elicited diverse comments from Nigerians and beyond. They do not need a rehash here. Questions upon questions are being asked but none is yet able to explain the riddle of how such a young girl could perpetrate that gory crime to which she has confessed. In court, lawyers will battle whether the narratives conveyed in Chidinma’s confession and evidence from the murder scene tally with the crime of murder or manslaughter.
Do the multiple stabs, her decision to pay for the hotel with a pseudonym, the withdrawals from deceased Ataga’s account and the fake driving license bearing “Mary Johnson” with her photograph, constitute premeditated murder? Was there absence or presence of the mental element called mens rea in the killing? Those are however not our bother here. The society, enveloped in the Chidinma story, is.
From all the narratives presented of this 21-year old, it is obvious that she lived a double-faced life like Janus, the Roman god with two faces. She was a reserved, angelic girl next door at home and in her neighbourhood and at the same time, a total delinquent in shrouds of innocence.
The second part must have been concealed from her parents, classmates and her tiny rank of friends, but totally open to the world where she caught her fun. Those who know, who have a social barometer that measures the pulse of the town, told me that many parents are like Chidinma’s father and mother – they know very little about who their wards are outside of the home. Away from the English social reformer, statistician and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale picture they cut at home, many of our children are nothing but whores, perverts and drug addicts who daily frequent fun arenas to get their fixes. From police report, Mr. Ojukwu, Chidinma’s father, got violently antagonistic, like many parents will, when policemen came to their home to arrest his daughter. How could his angelic daughter be the homicidal psychopath the police were looking for?
Chidinma’s viral confession also revealed that she was afflicted by the famous bug that has become a pestilence among the youth in our society – drug addiction.