By PAUL ADUNWOKE
A middle-aged woman with an average height, fair in complexion and who appears to be harebrained has taken up residence under the bridge close to Toyota bus-stop, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the exact spot where a man-eater, Clifford Orji, was captured 13 years ago.
This development has raised a red flag among residents and passersby, who recall how Orji, who died last month, was presumed to be mad until he was caught with human parts under the bridge.
Many people are willing to second-guess the actual status of the woman presently occupying the bridge, as the question on the lips of those who are aware of the development remain: “Is the woman really mad or not.”
And there are reasons to be doubtful. On several occasions, the woman would be gaily dressed and she changes clothes daily, but she spends most of her day carrying her bag and sleeping mat around as she walks the road down to the International Airport and back countless time in a day.
She also changes her route by strolling down to Ladipo Spare-parts Market. Some other time, she would be sighted walking around the area in her undies or washing her clothes at the spot. Once it is evening, she remains at the spot and stares into space until nightfall.
While she could be easily ignored by passersby and neighbours going about their businesses in the area, her emergence at the spot immediately after the death of Orji raises cause for concern. As the days go by, it is yet to be seen if it is just happenstance or she is there on a mission.
Just like in the Clifford Orji days, both sides of the road are occupied by block-makers and gardeners; but they are only around during the day for their businesses and vacate the area once it is evening, leaving behind the mad woman alone till the dawn of the next day.
Mr. Udoh Ntiokiet, a bricklayer, who has been under the bridge for over two decades, said the woman do not appear to be insane because she relates well with them. “Most times, she is always neat and whenever her clothes are dirty, she would wash it. Whenever she roams around, she acts as if she is praying. She does not disturb people or pick things on the road.”
Udoh, however, added that it would be wrong to jump into conclusion as the woman and Clifford are behaving differently. “When Clifford was here, he was fond of putting tyres on the road at night. We could not challenge him then because it is a government road, but we have learnt our lesson. We are here to do business; we won’t allow anything that can implicate us to happen again. Clifford was a complete mad man, who was tested and confirmed to be lunatic, which was why we overlooked him.
“I lost over N80,000 after Clifford was caught as the people who thronged to this area were so disgusted wuth what they saw that they destroyed everything here, including my work tools.”
Udoh disclosed that the area is a black spot notorious for armed robbery incidents. “There are a lot of unreported robbery attacks happening here. Even during the day, people rob with motorcycles and at night, boys from Mafoluku come to hang around, trying to hide in between the flowers to rob. This is why we trim the flowers to bring it very low; we also try to open up the hill so that people would have a good view of the area.
“But government should play its part by providing adequate security. Everybody working here leave this area latest 6:30pm. Whoever you meet here after that time has a sinister mission.
Another bricklayer said the woman appears to be mentally disturbed. “I can’t see the reason why a normal human being would be taking her bath in public. I also do not think somebody who is alright would come and live all alone in the bush.”
A gardener in the area, Tony James, said the woman is there on a mission.
“I don’t believe she is a mad woman because this is a woman who takes her bath everyday. Whenever her cloth is dirty, she will buy soap and wash it immediately. Whenever she wants to cross the road, she makes sure there is no vehicle coming. I believe the woman has a mission here,” he said.