By Modupe Gbadeyanka
When Miss Chidinma Okeke, a 19-year-old student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka won Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant organised by the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) 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 October 11, 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, Mr Nze Uche Nworah, Miss Okeke 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 October 11 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 lèsbianism with another girl.
At first, Miss Okeke was said to have denied being the one in the video until about a week later when a more explicit 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 (NUJ) 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.”
Mr 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, the dethroned beauty queen 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 sèxually harassed, 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, Mr 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 Mr 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 sèx 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 sèx 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 sèx 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”
Pageant organisers disown beauty queen
As the controversy raged, officials of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, organizers of the pageant, through a statement signed by its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Uche Nworah, denied their complicity in the circulation of the video.
The statement read: “The attention of the management of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, organizers of the Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant has been drawn to a video with lurid contents purportedly showing former Miss Anambra, Miss Chidinma Okeke (Miss Anambra 2015).
“We wish to make the following clarifications: The said Miss Chidinma Okeke who is allegedly linked to the lurid content in circulation has served-out her term as Miss Anambra 2015 and handed over the crown in line with the terms and conditions of the Miss Anambra pageant.
“We condemn in clear terms any amoral behaviour/conduct as suggested by the alleged lurid content in circulation and do not condone such. It is on record that the Miss Anambra Beauty pageant has been a platform to empower Anambra women and celebrate our rich culture and heritage. Winners of the pageant are bound by contracts to be of good conduct and moral behaviour and to uphold/maintain the honour in their position as queen.
“Winners of the pageant also contract to refrain from any personal relationship that could appear to hinder their ability to perform the duties of their office as queen and role model and we do not expect any less. We therefore wish to dissociate the Miss Anambra pageant from any discussions on the said allegations.
“We feel sufficiently perturbed by the mere reference already made to the pageant and hereby state that we are in no way connected to the controversy.
“We apologize to the government and good people of Anambra State, our sponsors, supporters, friends and all those associated with the Miss Anambra project for the embarrassment the mere reference to the pageant in the controversy may have caused; whilst reassuring of the good intentions of the Miss Anambra pageant franchise.”
Chidinma seeks asylum
Following the cold silence from the accused, speculations were rife that she had travelled out of the country to seek asylum. Her family in a chat with Saturday Sun raised the alarm over the whereabouts of their daughter. But her close friend who pleaded anonymity in a telephone chat with our reporter claimed that although she had not heard from her since the controversy started, she believed that she had travelled out of the country.
This was even as her lawyer, Mr Ikenna Obidiegwu, said his client has not sought for asylum outside the country.
He said: “I have said it severally that my client, Chidinma is in Nigeria. She is in Awka. We shall address a press conference this week to say everything about this issue.”
Meanwhile, the state police command had said it has no knowledge of the sèx scandal.
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