When Chidinma Okeke, a 19-year-old student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka won Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant organised by the Anambra Broadcasting Service, in 2015, little did she or anyone else know that her reign as a beauty queen would record a sad end.
The 300-level student of Medical Laboratory who hails from Ogboji community in Orumba South council area of Anambra State had been enjoying the benefits of her position until 11th day of October, 2016 when she was unceremoniously stripped of her crown by the organisers of the pageantry.
The star prize, a car given to her was not only taken away from her and parked at the premises of the radio/TV house, but the Miss Anambra 2015 inscription on it was erased.
According to the management of the station led by its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nze Uche Nworah, Chidinma was stripped of her crown because “she had served out her tenure in line with the terms and conditions placed by the pageant organisers.”
The unceremonious event, televised on 11th October had some senior members of staff of the station in attendance. Shortly after she was stripped of the crown, the social media was awash with video clips where the beauty queen allegedly engaged in lesbianism with another girl.
At first, Chidinma was said to have denied being the one in the video until about a week later when a more e.xplicit version of the video, which she later owned up, was released by those she described as her traducers.
Although the beauty queen switched off all channels of communication following the attacks she was receiving from the public court, her lawyer, Mr Ikenna Obidiegwu, on October 26, arranged for a World Press Conference to be addressed by the beauty queen to tell her own side of the story.
The media parley, which was scheduled to hold at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre, Awka, was called off abruptly when information filtered into the complex that some gunmen were coming to disrupt it.
Miss Okeke, was said to have sworn to expose “the powerful cabal” behind her ordeal in the sordid video, but her lawyer later said that she could no longer address journalists because “her life had been threatened.”
Obidiegwu alleged that the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Okaula, had denied his client police protection for the press briefing on the grounds that the police got a short notice. “The Commissioner of Police said the notice was too short, and that he could not mobilise police security for the queen immediately” he said.
According to a post she made on her Facebook wall, Chidinma said she had been warned not to step the venue or risk assassination.
It read: “Considering the need to make the world know the truth about the trending scandal, and what we have been going through before then and now, I decided to hold World Press Conference at the NUJ Press Centre, Awka today. But from the moment I made public this intention; I have been under siege of threats by my blackmailers and traducers.”
“They are seriously threatening to shoot me at the press conference if I ever open my mouth to say the real truth about the ugly episode. Since I have no protection and if I die now the truth would be buried forever, it’s my objective to sacrifice myself to save not just myself but other girls and other upcoming pageants by letting the world know the truth and what we go through” the post added.
Her family breaks silence
For more than two weeks of the ugly development, all the concerned public could get was a chilling silence from her family. But Saturday Sun took a bumpy ride to Chidinma’s hometown of Ogboji.
On arrival, our reporter met the family residence under lock. The thick bush growing inside the compound easily discloses to any visitor that the family must be residing somewhere else in the city. But members of their extended family living in the next compound gave their words on the raging controversy.
Speaking to our reporter on the telephone, Chidinma’s father, Sir Jeremiah Okeke who is living in Aba, Abia State with his family, lamented that the family had been going through emotional and psychological trauma since it all started. With a voice laden with heavy emotions, the 65-year-old man told our reporter that the family had handed over the situation to God.
“Chidinma is my own daughter” he said, “but there is nothing much I can say about this because there is a lifestyle adopted by my family. We don’t foment troubles.
“I, as the father, have committed everything to God in prayers. Human being cannot fight our cause but only God in heaven. We are in serious prayers for God to intervene. I don’t have anybody on earth except God.”
Asked if his daughter has before the incident complained to him that she was being sexually harrassed, he said he was confused about the whole matter, even as he raised the alarm over the whereabouts of his daughter.
“I am confused about the whole thing as of now. It is only when I set my eyes on my daughter that I will know about all these. As it stands now, I don’t know where my daughter is.”
He said he was not suspecting anybody of having a hand in his daughter’s ordeal as speculated in the social media. Going back memory lane, Okeke recalled that God’s mighty hand on him was evidenced on his miraculous survival from his childhood tragedies.
“There are many ways God is fighting my battle. I was only five years when my father died. I don’t know whether I got up to six years before my mother died too. I don’t have anybody but it is only God that sustained me all through. It was same God that assisted me to raise and train all my children. All the family members are praying.
“As it stands now, my daughter is still a small girl. I don’t know whether she is still alive or dead. But all I know is that God will prove Himself worthy to fight His children’s battle. I don’t have much to say for now.
“So many people have told me to take certain actions but me and my God are still communicating through prayers. There are several ways God reveals some things to me. I am not suspecting anybody but only God knows who is behind that; whether he is human or spirit. I’m leaving whoever that is behind it to his conscience. The life of my daughter is most important to me now. Wherever she is, let her be alive for me.”
The depressed Okeke, who obviously needs assistance to enable him bounce back to his years of comfort told Saturday Sun that his business which hitherto was flourishing was hit by the economic tsunami sweeping through the country.
“I am a businessman but because of this harsh economic condition, my business is no longer moving as expected. You understand? I am just doing little things to feed.
“I was a distributor for Peak Milk here in Aba, Abia State but for some time now, I have stopped because I don’t have strength for fomenting troubles. We borrow money from the banks to embark on the Peak Milk distribution business but when it became too competitive, in addition to the losses incurred in the course of doing the business, I stopped.”
Chidinma’s cousin, Blessing Chinenye Nwafor, who our reporter met in their village in Ogboji, told Saturday Sun regrettably that the s*x video had gone round their village.
“There was a day I was going out on a mission, some persons stopped me and told me about the s*x video but I didn’t believe it. One of them said he saw the picture but not the video.
I left them in anger. After walking some distance, another guy called my attention and showed me the video. The people in that area started mocking me; saying all sorts of foul things. I started crying and walked away from their midst.
“But later on, I learnt that what that boy did in the village was to share it with the villagers. I am personally annoyed about his attitude and I have resolved to call him later and caution him.
They have an only daughter in their family. Suppose it were to be her, would he be going about and be showing it to everybody in the village? I have not seen him but once I see him, we would have some axe to grind.”
Though the video had gone viral, Blessing told Saturday Sun that she was yet to believe it.
“When I heard about this s*x video for the first time, even though I didn’t believe it, I was not happy at all. I told my mother about it when I returned home and she was very sad all through. She could not sleep that night.”
She described Chidinma as “a good girl” pointing out that “personally, I don’t believe that she did that stuff. I am of the view that she was drugged and forced to do that thing. It is also possible that her enemies are behind that.”
For Mrs Hope Nwaka, Sir Okeke’s niece, her spirit tells her that Chidinma was innocent of the allegations.
“My spirit tells me that Chidinma did not do that thing she was being accused of; I know her very well. I see it as something planned to smear her name and that of our entire family. It is also paining my daughter, Chinenye but I told her to relax that it was not true.
“We are living in the last days. The love among brethren would grow cold. Nobody would want another person’s success. But I have not believed that stuff was true. It was forged. She could not have done that. Even if she did, know it that she was forced to do it.”
Asked on the implications it could have on the yet to be married sisters of Chidinma, Mrs Nwaka said that it would not in any way stop them from getting suitors.
“For now, it is only one of her sisters that has gotten married but it will never stop others from getting married too. God is with our family and He will continue to bless us with everything we need including ensuring that her remaining sisters get married at the appropriate time.”
Meanwhile, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka said it was yet to decide whether to expel the beauty queen as the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku was yet to be briefed.
In a telephone chat with its Director of Information and Public Relations, Dr Emmanuel Ojukwu, he said: “The Nnamdi Azikiwe University has not taken any position yet on the matter. For now, we regard everything we have been hearing as speculation.
We will find out from the head of her department and the Dean of her faculty what is happening. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, will be briefed and then the University will know the next line of action.
“This thing is procedural because the Head of the Department would be told to find out what is happening because for now, the whole thing is speculation to us and he will report to the Dean. You know the reporting system in the university. And then the Dean will brief the Vice-Chancellor.
“And you know at Nnewi, we have a Provost in charge of College of Health Sciences who is like the boss of all the medical departments and faculty in Nnewi. So the Vice-Chancellor has not been briefed. Whatever that is happening is still within the realm of speculation”