The Life (and Death) of Vampire

"Do you know what a vampire is?" he began then quickly answered his own question "A vampire is a blood sucking animal" and proceeded to give a somewhat long winded speech about the vampire bat, the symbology and mythology behind Dracula and the modern day vampire. I suppose he can be forgiven, in a past life he was probably a lecturer, in this one he's a pastor so all that endless teaching seems to have become a major part of him. Usually he has it under control but in his excitement, it slipped out. He just got the news yesterday, Vampire is dead.

Henry Chibueze was born 30 years ago, according to all sources. Exactly when he was born, I do not know, but like all children, he was born innocent. He didn't stay innocent. He became one of the most dreaded criminal kingpins in the south-south and south-east areas of Nigeria. At one point (early this year), a thoroughly exasperated Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha put a bounty of five million naira (roughly 11,350 USD) on his head. Directly responsible for the death of over 100 people, no one would fault the nickname given to him, because if this was not a Vampire, it's kinda hard to see what is.

At the age of 7, he lost his parents and the extended family stepped in as is often the case in Nigeria. At 11, he turned down all of that and moved permanently to the streets. Around that time, he also became embroiled in crime. In the way of the Nigerian criminal, that meant dabbling in protective charms and the occult which is why some still refer to him as a notorious cultist. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. I certainly cannot tell you. He became an armed robber and a fairly successful one but soon realized that there really wasn't a lot of money to be made from robbery, after all, unless you're robbing one of those selfless leaders of ours, chances are you can't quite make it to the big league. And good luck robbing those guys. So at 17, Henry made a career change and became a kidnapper.

Now most of you don't need me to tell you that kidnapping is a booming business in Nigeria. In the criminal world, it's almost like a church or a hospital, one of those businesses that will never run out of operation (money) as long as there are humans. I don't mean to pull a Jidenna but kidnapping is a big business, especially in the South-South and South-East of Nigeria. It was in this industry that Vampire found a home and made a success out of himself. It was also where his body count started imitating the Yoruba demon of lore, it started rising astronomically.

While in Lagos celebrating a successfully closed case, Vampire had a falling out with his girlfriend Sandra Ijedinma. The lady left him and took with her his share of the loot, all 45 million naira of it (just over 102,000 USD). An infuriated Vampire tracked her down to her family home with an AK47, killer her, her parents, her older sister Praise and Praise's two children and then left to track down another sister living in another part of the city and killed her too. Only when Sandra and 8 members of her family were dead, did Vampire feel satisfied. This was 2013, in Lagos. A manhunt went up but he slipped it and went back to his base of strength, south-south/south-east, operating in several states (Rivers, Delta, Imo, Abia and Enugu to name a few).

In 2015, either after kidnapping the wife of a prominent man or while attempting to kidnap an electoral judge, Vampire was arrested. To arrange for bail money in 2016, he linked up a prison official with a gang of robbers and facilitated kidnappings worth near 10 million naira. The gang was captured and arraigned a few months later, but Vampire had his bail money. He was denied bail.

January 27 2017, Vampire was arraigned at the Imo State High Court. Even he had to realize that the chances of being anything but convicted, even in the face of the usually inept Nigerian prosecution, was extremely low. So he staged a breakout. His gang arrived in armed force and shot up the entire court, killing two and creating confusion large enough to slip Vampire away. A thoroughly exasperated Governor then put a bounty of five million for information leading to Vampire's capture.

The Nigerian Police had had enough. The Inspector General's Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) which despite it's name is a highly elite unit headed by ACP Abba Kyari was dispatched from Abuja to track him down. Together with men from the Imo State Police Command, Rivers State Police Command and the Directorate of State Security (which had arrested him earlier), they began the hunt for a vampire.

That hunt came to an end in the early hours of Sunday March 2, 2017. They'd tracked Vampire and his gang down to the Omu-Awa forest in Ikwerre LGA, Rivers state. In a classic case of holding on to every criminal cliche, the gang would not surrender and so they face one last battle. A gun duel that left Vampire dead, three to five (depending on your source) members of his gang as well as IRT sergeant Austin Nwachukwu injured and the gang broken once and for all.

According to one of the arrested gang members, they'd carried out four kidnaps between Vampire's jailbreak in January and his death in March. I really don't want to extrapolate that to figure out just how many kidnaps the man was responsible for. But either ways, Vampire is dead. 

More from aKoma