This is the very tragic story of Hadiza, a girl who had the dream of conquering the skies. She did achieve her dream before she was cut down in her prime by the very people she fed, clothed and trusted with her own life. The late Captain Hadiza Lantana Oboh was the first and only female pilot of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
LOVE, FAMILY AND MARRIAGE
Hadiza was single and lived alone in her residence where she enjoyed every available luxury and was hardly visited by friends, relations or associates. She seemed to have been very much focused primarily on her career and might have been very introverted.
A hardworking and focused lady, Captain Hadiza Oboh was reputed to have checked out as a Flight Officer (F/O) aboard a Boeing 737 of the Nigeria Airways in 1984.
By 1989, she was already a well-established pilot and remained an aviation superstar all through the 1990s. She was always a point of reference and source of pride for all women associations in Nigeria and Africa.
THE PLOT AND THE MURDER
The cold-blooded murder of Captain Oboh still sounds like a scene right out of a movie, even 22 years after her unfortunate exit from the world. On that fateful day, around 8.00 pm on the 8th of February 1998, Captain Oboh drove straight from the airport to her 40A Bourdillion Road home in Ikoyi, a high-brow part of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center. A very lively lady, she was full of sparkle and was probably famished after a hectic day (pilots are some of the most worked and stressed-out professionals), she made for her kitchen to prepare a quick meal to line her stomach.
Inside the kitchen, she set a pot of soup on the electric cooker. She was never to taste of the meal she was cooking. Unknown to one of Africa’s few female captains, her domestic servants were already putting finishing touches on how to send her to the Great Beyond. As stated earlier, Captain Oboh was single and lived alone. The only people staying with her at her Ikoyi residence were her domestic servants and were males. They worked as the gateman (Abdullahi was the maiguard or security watch), gardener in addition to handling some other household tasks.
As she approached the entrance of her posh residence, Abdullahi flung open the big gates to her residence and she drove in, parked her Santana car and strode in. As Hadiza entered her well-furnished duplex, she did not suspect a thing. She headed for her bedroom while one of the domestic workers helped her with the flight bag. Hadiza had one habit which is quite common in many Nigerian homes with domestic ‘househelps’: her workers had access to her bedroom. However, this was to have very devastating consequences for her.
On the various occasions when the domestic servants assisted her with her bag into the lavish bedroom, they saw foreign currencies scattered all over the place. That was the beginning of the nightmare. Her workers were attracted by the money which she sweated for. On that fateful day, which would be her last on earth, as the servant dropped her flight bag in her room, they noticed more foreign currencies littering the beautifully-arranged bedroom. In addition to the money, Hadiza’s room was also full of designer wears, jewel-studded bracelets, gold chains and many others. She was a woman of class and fashion, a very classy pilot with an eye for the very best. Her wardrobe contained the best money could buy. Her residence was also equipped with the latest and most sophisticated electronic appliances and gadgets of that era. It was these glittering items that made the neurons in the brains of her workers to misfire and they conspired. They conspired to kill Hadiza.
After she relaxed for a while in her room, she stepped into the kitchen to prepare a meal. While she was in the kitchen savoring the aroma of the dish, Abdullahi sneaked out and opened the gate for the three other conspirators who entered the expansive compound. One of the brains behind the plot was Peter Iduwu Eche from Benue State. Trained as an auto-electrician, in 1993, Captain Oboh also employed him as a gardener and gateman. He was hired because Oboh had fired Abdullahi for gross misconduct. While Peter was working for her, he was residing in the boys’ quarter inside the compound.
However, when Peter travelled to his village in Makurdi, Oboh decided to re-employ Abdullah pending the return of Peter. That mistake would prove most deadly. When Peter returned, Abdullahi moved swiftly and worked on his brain. He hinted Peter of his sinister agenda to kill Hadiza and co-opted Peter into the bloody mission. Abdullahi was reported to have said Oboh should be killed because:
‘…she get plenty money and property.’
Without thinking of the consequences, Peter agreed to the plot. In fact, he went a step further by organizing for and arranging the four assassins who would take part in the operation. The meeting point for the killers was the spot outside the house where Abdullahi was selling his petty items. When Oboh arrived her residence that day, the plan was for the killers to melt into the environment and lurk around and wait for signals. Once they saw that madam was comfortably inside, Abdullahi sneaked out of his post and flung the massive gates open and the other agents of death entered. Their plan was thorough and detailed. The assassins gained access to the house via the rear kitchen door. As they entered, Hadiza was inside the kitchen, cooking.
Like a crazed cat, Abdullahi took a leap and bounced on her. In his hand was a rope which went straight to the neck of Nigeria’s only female captain. Hadiza shouted, pleaded and struggled but was overpowered. As the pilot gave her last kicks in a desperate attempt for survival, the very person she hired to protect her, Abdullahi, increased the grip and tightened the rope around her neck cutting off blood supply to her brain and probably severing her brain stem in the process while other assailants attacked and restrained her.
The bitter struggle went on for a few minutes, and after the macabre drama, all was left was the lifeless body of one of Africa’s most illustrious daughters. In this manner of murder, Captain Hadiza would have died very quickly. The assailants did not stop there.
They took her corpse and did a most unthinkable thing. They carried out an act that would shock many for centuries to come. They headed for the septic tank (locally referred to as the ‘soak away’),where they dumped her body. They then made for the bags of cement and fully cemented the tank. Inside the kitchen was the rope they used in killing her.
With Hadiza’s body vaulted away inside the septic tank, they moved to the next stage of their orchestrations: they embarked on a proper looting of her house. They carted every valuable thing in her residence, from her gold jewels to her expensive wears to the hard currencies she laboured for, they cleared everything. Even her car was not spared as they turned it into an unpainted taxi. Peter then abandoned the boys’ quarter and started living in the main building formerly occupied by the deceased pilot. So each time a visitor or friend came to check on Hadiza, Peter and the rest would answer saying:
‘Madam don travel and we no know when she go return.’
The soak away she was thrown in.
• Armed robbery
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