- How She Died A Few Months Back
When the news broke about 2 months back that popular Lagos businesswoman, Jennifer Madike had passed on, many people were shocked. It was sad news because this pretty woman who dominated the scene in the early 90s on account of her detention and trial by the NDLEA boss then, Fidelis Eddie Oyakhilome had become born again. She also died a Pastor. And she pastored her own church before she passed on.
Who is Jennifer Madike? She was this big babe who rocked the national scene in the early 90s.
She hit the limelight on July 12, 1990, when she was arrested by Fidelis Eddie Oyakhilome, the then boss of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). She was detained under the guise of helping to protect her from drug barons. But the arrest kick started a big scandal which eventually consumed the NDLEA boss.
Jennifer then was 32 and a mother of 4 kids, the eldest of which was 16. She was separated at the time and her former husband, John Ukaigwe, a Medical Doctor, ran a private clinic in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. John and Jennifer were birds of different feathers. Several times they quarrelled with each other. At other times, they got into brawls. Jennifer was just 22 when John drove her out. That twist put Jennifer on a fast lane: a pole-vault ambition, an eye to the top, a determination to get even with life.
Her ambition fed on a keen intellect: with a Microbiology University degree in 1981 from Blundow University in West Germany, fair looks and an average height, plus a strong talent for persuasion, Jennifer soon set out to dream a new dream, and avenge poverty. But first, she had to win friends and influence people.
She worked for 3 years, as a salaried employee in 2 public health institutes. First, at Enugu and later, at Benin Teaching hospitals, during which time her total income grossed close to N28,000. In 1985, she resigned to explore a new terrain: real estate business. Her savings were very little, but her ideas were big. She had been introduced to a Police Commissioner till 1982, shortly after John drove her out of matrimony. That Police Commissioner was Fidelis Eddie Oyakhilome. In later years too, Oyakhilome was to become Jennifer’s best pal. In later years, Jennifer would become Oyakhilome’s albatross.
When they first met, they took a liking to each other. Oyakhilome met Jennifer in distress, and lent a helping hand. He bent her husband’s will and allowed Jennifer take out her suitcases from her matrimonial home.
Oyakhilome provided “safety” for Jennifer, “accepted her as a member of his family: and assisted her “to start on her own.” A willing god-daughter had met a ready god-father.
Jennifer got a lot more favours. In 1982, Oyakhilome “informed” the Police Commissioner in Enugu to give Jennifer ‘the necessary protection.” A lively affair was starting. Soon thereafter, Oyakhilome was appointed Governor of River State. Jennifer sent him a word she would like to have his photograph. Oyakhilome obliged.
Jennifer’s confidence grew. In 1985. after quitting her salaried job as public health worker. she smartly drew out new plans to form a company. She took the plans to Oyakhilome. She wanted Oyekhilome and others to finance the company. Oyakhilome was to be a director but with only his middle names entered in the company’s subscription memo. On retirement from public service. Oyakhilome would have a prospering company to fall back on.
Oyakhilome signed the company’s sub scription memo. By now. Jennifer’s life style had changed. She’d given up on fish and meat diet. and was now into Yoga. ‘You cannot develop to any higher consciousness without stopping to take all those things,” he had said in an interview with Quality magazine back then.
Jennifer was starting to emerge a different person from her middling background as daughter of a retired professor. and was now putting behind those horrific experiences of a terrible teenage marriage to John Ukaigwe, to become a dead serious business director. If she would succeed. as she must have thought. Oyakhilome would be her gratest asset.
The sky too could be her limit, she thought. if only she got started. After leaving Benin, she entered the business world, remolding and selling old prop erties. The business would however only be a spingboard. Jennifer had her eyes ultimately on diagnostic laboratory company, the soap industry and pharmaceuticals.
Her business premises on Adeniyi Jones Avenue. Ikeja, Lagos already reflected what Jennifer had in mind. A spick and span environment. It is an ideal business premises with almost everything about her dream put in place.
Such drive as the zeal to get to the top manifests in her relationship with her workers. “I remind them (her workers) that life is a checkers- board and that the opposite player is time. One is playinq against a partner who does not tolerate indecision,” Jennifer told Poise. a women Oriented magazine years back.
Meanwhtle. as Jennifer’s estate business boomed, she kept in touch with Oyakhilome. They exchanged intimate letters and honoured each other’s offer Biofrika Venture Ltd In which both of them held shares and kept a long time bond tight. In November 1989. Jennifer Madike wrote as managing director of Biofrika
Ventures Ltd to Mrs. Maryam Babangida who had launched the Better Life for Rural Women programme.
Jennifer introduced Biofrika Ventures Ltd. a diagnostic laboratory clinic. Then she requested Maryam “to set up Cancer Screening Centre for women in all local governments.” Jennifer added that Biofrika Ventures Ltd would then “lend its know-how and experience,” to run the proposed screening centres. In a reply, Ms G.I Nwapa, on behalf of Maryarn Babangide ‘commended’ Jennifer’s contribution to healthcare in Nigeria, but regretted that “financial implications” would make the idea unaffordable. One door was closed.
But another soon opened in 1990, when Federal Government appointed Oyakhilome to head a National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Oyakhilome’s job as NDLEA Chairman was to stop the fast growing billion-dollar trade. Fair complexioned, articulate and tough talking. Oyakhilome accepted the job with the usual confidence of a retired cop. He said he would flush out narcotic centres in Nigeria. In a letter, dated 12 July 1990, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (in which Oyakhilome was Chairman) wrote to Biofrika Ventures Ltd (in which Oyakhilome and Jennifer had interests proposing to rent one apartment in Biofrika’s complex situated at 38 Moshood Abiola Crescent. Biofrika Ventures wrote back that same day accepting to rent the apartment to NDLEA.
The rent would be N60,000 a year, and NDLEA was asked to pay 5 years rent in advance, plus, 5 per cent agency fees. The total rent was N315.000. Five days later, Oyakhilome wrote back to Biofrika Ventures, “forwarding a cheque number LA/3 481707 for N315,000. And sent a Tenancy agreement alongside.
Biofrika Ventures followed up the tenancy agreement with another proposal on 4 September asking to be contracted as furnishing agents for the same apartment. On 13 September. NDLEA wrote back, and again appointed
Biofrika Ventures, In that letter, Biofrika was to furnish the private rooms and guest rooms In the duplex for an agreed sum of N377,150.
Like the earlier contract, the furnishing contract was executed without a murmur, Business and Frienship went on smoothly, and Jennifers affair blossomed ever more radiantly. Jennifer and Biofrika Ventures smiled to the bank, while Oyakhilome kept setting booby traps for drug runners, until he almost caught a big player.
NDLEA securitymen had swooped on Gregory Odilibe’s house in Ajao Estate, Lagos, on a tip-off. They missed their game. They had a clue he was to export 750 grammes of narcotics, and promptly, they went on television on 17 October . and put him up as The most wanted man in the drug deal.
Hand in gloves with NDLEA to combat global drug traffic, the American Drug Law Enforcement Agency which promised an assistance of $50,000 to NDLEA probably blew the whistle on Gregory Odilibe. A diplomat in the United States Embassy in Lagos however denied US involvement in this particular instance, saying It’s a Nigerian affair. However, two of Gregory Odilibe’s associates were nabbed, and detained. These associates; Emeka Chukwuedo Emmanuel and Chike Onwuazor, were suspected as main fronts in a huge drug-freight bustness. With Gregory Odilibe at large, matters remained at stalemate.
Then, on 27 October, Jennifer held her birthday party at Lagoon Restaurant, a posh eatery on Victoria Island. Oyakhilome was the Special Guest. Around this time, another gang interested in buying the freedom of Gregory Odilibe’s two associates in jail had set to work. The gang had money to spend, but needed a pointman. The gang wanted someone close to power, someone who could open the prison gates and allow the two detained suspects out. They found Jennifer.
There are two versions of how the negotiations with Jennifer proceeded. According to Jennifer’s sister, Doris Obi, a female youth corper, “sometime in October 1990, Chief Sam Ifeanyi Ejiogu in the company of Messrs. Linus Sunny Odilibe and John Opera” came to Jennifer “and informed her” that Fidelis Oyakhilome “had instructed them to pay to her a sum of N1 million for a transaction.” Oyakhilome however denied this. He said he was in the dark over this transaction. Rather, he said he got to learn of it through a complaint and later a petition sent to him on the matter by relations of Odilibe.
Late 1990, shortly after Jennifer allegedIy collected the money, the two suspected associates of Gregory Odilibe in the cell were released. Some NDLEA officials released them. Why? Even Oyakhilome didn’t know why. “When I got to know about their release, I promptly got them re-arrested,” explained Oyakhilome then.
The tale took a new twist on 10 January when the police stormed Jennifer’s residence and pulled down Oyakhilome’s portraits, in the house subjected her to a search, and held her incommunicado ever since. Government later said “some suspicious items were recovered from her premises.”
Still behind bars at the Maximum Security Prisons, Kirikirii, Jennifer’s affair strangely attracted the comment of the office of the Vice President, which signed her Preventive Detention Order, on the recommendation of Oyakhilome. In a bulletin 19 February, the vice- presidency said Jennifer “is a vital link to a hard drug trafficking ring and its barons now at large.” Therefore, the statement continued, “Jennifer Madike will be kept in detention until such a time that the ring has been uncovered and checked. Jennifer Madike will be charged to court soon, concluded the statement.
Fidelis Oyakhilome, seen as Jennifer’s guardian hitherto, declaimed her in the strongest expression. “My detaining her,” Oyakhilome said “was in the. interest of the nation because people like this who blackmail must be out of my way so as to be able to control the drug situation in the country.”