On Thursday, August 27, 2020, Miss Chinenye Nwoye, a 21-year-old undergraduate of University of Benin from Iruokpala Village in Abba town in Dunukofia, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, was strangled to death in a hotel in Abagana in the same area.
HumAngle learnt that the victim was invited to the hotel by her alleged killers.
Chinenye was on scholarship and had enrolled at a Computer Training Centre in Abagana to keep herself busy during the COVID-19 lockdown, sources said.
Her mother, Chinyere Nwoye, said she received a telephone call from Chinenye telling her that she was in danger and demanded her, Chinyere’s, ATM card pin number in order to secure her freedom from her abductors and that she rushed to the hotel to find out what was happening.
“When I asked the receptionist about my daughter’s whereabouts, they started checking for the booked rooms and I overheard her telling one boy to give her the keys to rooms 57 and 58.
“When the boy refused to give the keys to the attendant, she then looked for a spare key with which she opened the room and screamed aloud to everyone’s hearing, saying, `these people have killed somebody.’
“I then ran upstairs and was shocked to see my daughter naked, lying face down with her hands and legs tied with her own clothes,” Chinyere said.
The mother said she suspected that her daughter was killed and used for ritual and accused the hotel management of being responsible for the crime.
Similarly, on February 24, Paul Okwudili, a man of about 40 years old, allegedly died during sex with a lady in Plus View hotel in Onitsha.
The Public Relations Officer of the Police in Anambra State, Haruna Mohammed, said Okwudili went to the hotel with a lady.
“Minutes later, the lady came out shouting for help and the hotel manager, went to the room and discovered the man was gasping for breath,” Mohammed said, adding that he was rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention but he died.
Meanwhile, the mystery behind the death of Paul Idoko, a businessman in Oseokwodu, Onitsha, Anambra State, who left his shop to see a woman in a hotel in town and died minutes later on January 30, 2020, has yet to be resolved.
The family of the deceased claimed that there was a foul-play in his death but the management of the facility insisted that the man died during sex.
The family called on the police to investigate the death but Mohammed said autopsy report was still being awaited.
Also in October, 2019, three ladies were burnt to death in their sleep in a hotel in Ezekwuabo Otolo Nnewi, Anambra State, in an early morning fire from an unknown source.
A related matter was that of a 42-year-old man identified as Izuchukwu Achusim, who drowned in a swimming pool in a hotel in Fegge, Onitsha, in August.
The victim was said to have been intoxicated and plunged into the deepest part of the pool where he lost control and gulped a lot of water.
These and other unreported deaths raise concerns over security in hotels in Anambra State and other parts of Nigeria. Many who spoke with HumAngle on the issue stressed the need for a re-assessment of the operations of hotels in Anambra State and the country as a whole.
Jude Obiora, a who described himself as a hotel enthusiast, said most hotels in Anambra State lacked basic safety facilities.
Obiora noted that most hotels which had swimming pools neither had safety equipment for swimmers or those who wished to learn to swim, nor professional divers who could rescue those requiring help in the pool.
He said some hotels had become safe havens for internet fraudsters and drug users.
“I can’t see any visible safety measures in our hotels; at best the reception will only call to inform you that you have a guest and may be call you to know if you are aware that the guest is gone.
“Most of them don’t have CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras and those that have, installed them on their own because there is no law mandating them to install the security cameras.
“If you visit some of these hotels, you will perceive all kinds of smoke and odour which make it obvious that there are people doing drugs and you will see “yahoo boys” (internet fraudsters) hanging around these facilities,” he said.
Obiora said he was not sure if the standard practice of hotels submitting the list of guests to the police was followed and stressed need for the government to categorise hotels and enforce standards.
He said the customer had a crucial role to play by ensuring that some common safety standards were met before lodging.
“You can stop suspected drug users from hanging around or prevent dangers around the hotel but those inside the room like killing cannot be prevented.
“There is a need for industry players to enhance the safety environment of hotels,” Obiora said.
Dr Jide Onyekwelu, the Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Anambra State Chapter, said death in hotels could be avoided if there was timely medical intervention.
Onyekwelu said hotels should retain the services of hospitals nearest to them for quick interventions when necessary.
“The deaths are avoidable but that is if there is timely response, people who faint or who have heart attack can be resuscitated.
“So my recommendation is that hotels should retain hospitals that are closest to them, there should be payment whether there is patient or not, it should run as insurance.
“This will make the hospitals know that they are on 24 hour call.
“It is not practicable to have a standard clinic in a hotel, you can’t run such a place with nurses or community health extension workers and no doctor will accept to go and work there,” Onyekwelu said.
Mr Odira Ezeh, a hotel management expert said there were minimum measures that should be in place before a facility could qualify as a hotel and blamed the government for the failure of hotels to adhere to standards.
Ezeh, who manages some hotels across the country, said an ideal hotel should have CCTV cameras strategically installed, including guest rooms.
He said awareness of the existence of such facilities would deter evil minded people from using a hotel to carry out crimes.
Eze said there was poor regulation in the industry, pointing out the individual hotels adopted measures to secure clients to keep a competitive edge.
“For a hotel to say it has a functional swimming pool, it must have the basic equipment like life jackets and tools for amateur as well as a professional swimmers and divers,” he said.
Eze added: “CCTV cameras must be everywhere, from the reception to the rooms. This is not invasion of customer privacy because nobody is watching it but whenever there is an incident it will be easily called up for that day and time.
“There was a time Rivers State government made it a law but it is not like that in Anambra.
“The deaths are avoidable and when they occur the puzzles behind them can easily be resolved if these precautions are put in place.”
He advised guests to be safety conscious when lodging in a hotel and patronise those which showed reasonable commitment to safety.
The spokesman for the police in Anambra State, said the Commissioner of Police, Mr John Abang, had convoked a meeting with hoteliers in the state and advised them to install CCTV cameras as part of measures to improve security in their facilities.
The police spokesman stressed that security was not the business of hotels but that of every member of the public.
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