He was born and named Gracious but his lifestyle never reflected this good name. Instead of being gracious to others, he was a nightmare to them. His worst victims were women, especially young girls, who he killed at will.
To Gracious David-West, killing women in Rivers, Lagos, and Imo States was fun and sport. Until he fell into the police net, the way and manner he killed girls remained a mystery to both security agents and hoteliers, whose property he used for his dastardly acts.
In his confession to the police, Gracious admitted that he killed only seven girls in Rivers, Lagos and Imo States. And all of them were raped by him.
In the height of his escapades, distressed and distraught women in Rivers took to the streets in thousands to protest the killings and demanded the unmasking of the perpetrators. Unknown to them, it was a young man of 39 years that had brought tears, sorrow, and anguish on the residents of the state. His pattern of killing was the same: strangulation. And his major weapon was a kitchen knife which he used to intimidate his prey to submission.
Apart from having free sex with the girls, usually under duress, Gracious always completed his assignment by emptying the accounts of his victims after obtaining their ATM passcode under threats.
And now that the arm of the law has caught up with him, Gracious is looking for grace he did not show to his victims.
The end of the road came for Gracious on Thursday, September 19, 2019, when men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Rivers State Police Command arrested, Gracious, the suspected serial killer of young women in Rivers State.
He was arrested along the East-West Road in Khana local government area while travelling in a commercial bus to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Before Gracious was arrested, no fewer than 11 young women were strangulated in hotels between July and September 2019, in Port Harcourt and Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of Rivers State.
The suspect, who hails from Buguma City, headquarters of Asari-Toru local government area of the state, however, owned up that he killed five girls in Port Harcourt and one each in Lagos and Owerri, the Imo State capital.
While being paraded before journalists at the Police Headquarters yesterday, Gracious said: “I don’t know what is doing this to me. When that thing comes on me, I do it. After doing that, I will start crying and regret why I did it.
“I even went to the Lord’s Chosen Church, Oyingbo Branch and I told the pastor that I kill girls in hotels and if he has a way of helping me; that I don’t know what is wrong with me.
“So, the pastor told me that they have a crusade on Friday. I went there on Thursday. He said they don’t allow people to sleep in the church. He said I should come on Friday so that he could take me to their General Overseer.
“So, we went for the crusade but I didn’t see the General Overseer. When we came back on Monday, he told me that he had no other way to help me; that I should go. I left the church when we came back and lodged in a hotel.
“I am the one that has been doing all these serial killings in the state. There is no motive behind it but when that thing comes on me, I do it. There was a girl I slept with on Wednesday, I didn’t harm the girl and she left. It is when it comes on me that is when I harm the person.
“I usually buy a kitchen knife from Hausa traders and when we go into a hotel and after eating and making love, after sleeping for a while I will wake the girls up. Then, I will hold them on the necks and threaten to kill them with the knife if they shout.
“Before that time, I had increased the volume of the television set in the hotel room. After that, I will remove the knife from her neck and tell her to cooperate with me. I will then tear the pillow case and use it to tie her hands and legs so that she will not have a way of struggling with me.
“I use the knife to threaten them to tell me how much they have in their accounts. After killing the girls, I wait for at least three hours for the day to break before going to the ATM with their cards.
“I killed five girls in Port Harcourt. I did one in Lagos and one in Owerri. I started the killing in Lagos, then, went to Owerri before coming to Port Harcourt. I met the girl I killed in Owerri at a club. You know in Owerri, there are many hotels and clubs.
“After killing the girls, I will collect their phones. I have a boy that usually buys phone from me at Waterlines after the filling station. His name is China and has a small shop there. There is another one at MTN office but that one does not have a shop. He stands by the roadside. These are the people that bought the phones from me,” Gracious narrated.
The suspect had upon his arrest told SARS operatives that he belongs to one of the most dreaded cults operating in Rivers State, Deygbam, which is fingered in the violence that have engulfed various communities in the state, leading to the killing of several youths and rendering of thousands homeless.
Police Celebrate Gracious’ Arrest
When he paraded Gracious before journalists at the Police Headquarters in Port Harcourt yesterday, the commissioner of police in Rivers State, Mustapha Dandaura, said: “I am delighted to have you here today barely three days after I had addressed you on the rising cases of mindless killings in hotels in the state and measures put in place by the command to arrest the seemingly disturbing trend which had attracted both international and local condemnation.
“Today, it is my pleasure to announce to you that resulting from the measures put in place, the command has apprehended Gracious David-West ‘m’ 39 years from Buguma in Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers State.
“The suspect, who was arrested in a commercial bus en-route Akwa Ibom State, confessed to have carried out five killings in Port Harcourt, one in Owerri and another in Lagos State.
“He was on his way to Akwa Ibom State, having seen that Rivers State was no longer conducive for him. Whereupon he was arrested by the operatives of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), Bori, who were on a routine ‘Stop and Search’ along the Ogoni axis of the East-West Road
“The Rivers State Police Command is indeed elated with this achievement, but this did not come as a surprise.
“It could be recalled that on my assumption of duty as the commissioner of police three months ago, I made a pledge to the good people of the state that I was here with a clear mandate to fight crime and criminality head on and bring same to the barest minimum.
“Today, I make bold to say that the state is better for it. I have been able to stabilise the East-West Road, the Elele-Owerri Road and recently, the killings in Khana and Gokana are gradually declining.
“I will continue to do my best and will not be distracted by the machinations of the Fifth Columnists who will never see anything good in the state but bent on sponsoring smear campaigns against the command.
“Once again, I want to thank everybody who contributed consciously or unconsciously in the achievement recorded today.
“The suspect is definitely not alone in these killings, though he had made useful statements, but the command will go beyond his confessions to ensure that a conclusive end is achieved that will serve the interest of justice.
“So far, three suspects are in our custody and are being investigated in connection with these killings. They will be paraded as soon as investigation is concluded,” he said.
Gracious’ cult group, Deygbam was created in 1991 as a street/creek wing of the Klansmen Konfraternity (KK), a group also called the Eternal Fraternal Order of the Legion Konsortium.
In KK’s parlance, Deygbam means “Be Strong.” KK was founded at the University of Calabar in Cross River State in 1983 by five students. The first leader of Deygbam was the late Onengieofori Terika, popularly called “Occasion Boy.”
In Deygbam’s terminology, he was known as “Teetan the Great,” or “Teetan the Giant,” meaning the group’s chief. Members who are undergraduate students in universities are called Klansmen and belong to the KK, whereas Deygbam is strictly for the street/creek members. There is, however, an organic link between the university-based KK and the street/creek wing Deygbam.
Deygbam has a more formidable and clear leadership structure than its Deewell rival does. This is because the initiation into Deygbam is extremely tough and membership dues and contributions are high, explaining why many Deygbam cultists take to organised crime such as election rigging and other vices to meet their membership obligations.
Their membership obligation is approximately N100 per month, unless there is an emergency when more money may be demanded. Deewell, on the other hand, relies more on support from politicians and others who are part of their patronage network.
Occasion Boy, the first leader of Deebam, hailed from Bukuma in the Degema local government area of Rivers State. Under him, the group expanded and attracted membership.
He was killed on October 9, 2003 when he led scores of his Deygbam combatants to take over Tombia, a neighbouring community a few kilometres away, and was shot dead by members of a rival cult group.
The Great Women Peace Walk Against Serial Killings
On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt South, the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and 73 other women groups in Rivers State staged a peace walk in protest over the killing of young women in hotels in the state.
The peace walk, which started at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Port Harcourt, moved to the Government House, Port Harcourt and later to the office of the Department of State Services (DSS), headquarters of the Rivers State Police Command and the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The protesters carried several placards and banners which read: “Protect the women, Stop the killings, Respect the women, don’t kill them”, and “Women have right to life”.
At the Government House, the protesters presented a copy of their petition to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Tammy Wenike Danagogo, who received them on behalf of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The president of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt South, Rita-Marley Idonoh, who presented the petition to the SSG, said that women in the state were worried over the killings.
Idonoh charged the security agencies to step up their operations and ensure that the perpetrators of the act were arrested.
She demanded for a public apology from the Rivers State Police Command for referring the young women killed by the serial killers as prostitutes.
Similarly, former acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ibim Semenitari, said that women in the state were burdened because people were dying in the state without cause.
Semenitari said: “We are here to make a demand from the governor of Rivers State as the chief security officer of the state. We are here to make a demand because our mothers are being killed. We are here to make a demand because our daughters are being killed.
“We are here to make a demand because our sisters are being killed. We know that he will be able to do something about it and we have come with a petition to Government House, Rivers State. We are burdened because people are dying in our state without cause,” he said.
In his response, Danagogo apologised to the women over the statement credited to the authorities of the Nigeria Police.
Danagogo, who said that the state government was on top of the matter, advised the residents of the state, especially the young ones to be security conscious.
He said: “We doubt if the commissioner of police or the police public relations spokesman had said something like that but we sincerely apologise to Rivers women over such statement. A lot of the victims might have been careless but it will be wrong to address them as prostitutes.
“All of us must understand that the Nigeria of today is not like the Nigeria of yesterday where some of us grew up. We have to be very careful. That time you can stay anywhere till anytime and nothing would happen,” he said.
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