The gruesome story of Clifford Orji, Nigeria’s first cannibal serial killer

This article takes a look at Nigeria’s first cannibal serial killers Clifford Orji and his accomplice, Tahiru, who admitted to the police in Lagos that they had been killing and eating the flesh of fellow human beings.

Clifford Orji was only caught in his den at Toyota bus stop, Oshodi Isolo expressway, Lagos, after the loud cries of one of his victims, a woman identified as Awawu, a gaunt and shackled woman from Agege, gave him away on February 3, 1999.

Clifford Orji is from which state?

According to my source, Orji was originally from Enugu State in south-eastern Nigeria but lived in Lagos state in the south-west.

Clifford Orji Biography

According to sources, People always suspected that Clifford Orji was queerly different. He used to sell razor blades at the bustling Oshodi market, before moving to a self-created grotto under the highway bridge in Isolo, where he proclaimed himself to be a “native doctor Chinneyelu”.

Occasionally, he violently pursued stray-walkers to his “sanctuary” during day time. In the dead of the night he usually blanketed the air around him with the meat-like odour from his special barbecue.

People merely suspected that this barbecue- loving recluse was not normal; that he was possibly mad. But no one was prepared for the horrendous discovery that Orji was also a cannibal – a man eater!

The shocking discovery sent shock waves throughout the whole of Lagos, a sprawling metropolis of seven million people, drawing hundreds of people to the under-the-bridge abode of Orji, where he also kept a well-kitted kitchen to prepare cook and roast human flesh.

How long the razor blade seller cum native doctor from Enugu State has been feeding on human flesh in Lagos is unknown. Also, the number of people he slaughtered is unknown, as Orji did not reveal much to the police during interrogations.

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How Clifford Orji was caught

A shrill cry of a famished and emaciated lady, waiting to be slaughtered, was what gave Orji up on Wednesday, the 3rd day in February, 1999.

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According to sources, the noise attracted passersby who not only found the woman but also stumbled on a phalanx of human body parts in Orji’s make-shift home.

Human bones, skulls, legs, hands, freshly cooked soup with human meat, were was also found in Orji’s den.

The uproar triggered by this shock discovery was said to have attracted men of the Operation Sweep.

Orji attempted to escape, but the police quickly arrested him and took him to the Makinde Police Station in Oshodi, nearby. The lady being dressed for slaughtering, and who Orji had turned into a sex-slave for several days, was freed and taken to a hospital in Ikeja.

Orji’ accomplice

The arrest of another person, said to be Orji’s accomplice in the human-flesh eating business introduced a new dimension to the tragedy.

Police investigations found that Orji and his friend were not just human eaters, they were also human spare-parts sellers, as money, cheques were said to have been recovered at the make-shift home at the popular Toyota Bus Stop on the Oshodi-Isolo Expressway.

Were Orji and his accomplice mad?

Some people interviewed them at the scene of the tragedy believed they are sane. Some did not.

“What evidence do you have to claim that he’s mad,” said Chuks Igbokwe who spoke with the National Concord. “As far as I am concerned, he might be one of these Otokoto ritual murderers who trade in human parts. If he is mad, why should he kill and eat his victims?”

People who frequently passed by Orji’s make-shift home of horror recounted incidents when they were chased by the iron-rod wielding Orji; incidents when his potential victims escaped by the whiskers; incidents when the smell of his human barbecue pervaded the environment.

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“Any time wey I pass here, I go see the man eating meat . . . I no know say na person im de chop,” Okechukwu, a motor spare parts dealer told The Guardian.

The controversy about Orji’s mental state will linger for some time.

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Police parade Orji and his accomplice

On the 4th of February, 1999, Orji and his accomplice were paraded to newsmen by the then Lagos State Police Commissioner, Sunday Aghedo .

The journalists who crowded the premises of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, covered their noses with handkerchief while interviewing Orji who claimed to be a native of Enugu State.

Besides Orji was a middle-aged man, unidentified by the police, and who was bleeding on his nose and mouth.

Mr. Sunday Aghedo, the state commissioner of police at the time, described the two men as human eaters.

On display beside them were roasted parts of human beings – heads, leg, hand and the abdomen. One severed head wore a permed hair of a lady identified as “Eno”, a trader from Akwa Ibom.

Aghedo continued: “These are the men who were arrested yesterday by members of the Operation Sweep.

They were arrested with human parts in their enclave at the local airport area and taken to Makinde Police Station. They are now answering questions on homicide at the State Crime Intelligence Department (SCID).”

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Clifford Orji Interview

When it was his turn to speak, Orji confessed to the media men and said;

“We are human meat eaters. We have killed over three people, especially young girls who hawk wares. We always lured them to our enclave under the pretext that we wanted to purchase their wares. Once they are in our net, we pounced on them and killed them for eatable meat. My colleagues is the human hunter while I am the butcher. We usually go for girls with permed hair.”

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JOURNALIST: Why, have you taken to human eating; is it because you cannot afford animal meat?

Orji replied: “We have been eating human meat for the past seven years before coming to Lagos. It is our culture to eat human meat.”

JOURNALISTS: If you are a free man today will you still be eating human meat? Orji was asked again.

Orji replied: “Yes, to me there is no difference between human and goat meat.”

The lack of remorse by the cannibals made the police to doubt the mental state of the cannibals.

“They may be victims of psychic and spiritual problems. Before prosecution, we have to send them to psychiatric home for medical examination. Who knows, they maybe mentally sick”.

Mr. Aghedo also said that Cannibalism is a taboo in Lagos, but in some parts of Nigeria, especially, in the south east states of Cross River and Calabar, human meat eating is not strange.

Is Clifford Orji still alive?

In April 2012, after approximately 12 years in prison without his case coming to trial, Orji sued the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Ade Ipaye, for unlawful imprisonment. Prison authorities stated that they had been unable to have him treated for mental illness, which had progressed and he could not be tried when insane. He died at the age of 46 on August 17, 2012. An autopsy established that his death was from natural causes.

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