Omonefe Odunayo Ogungbemi, a Nigerian, is seeking refuge in Canada, alongside her husband, Olubunmi Seun Ogungbemi; and three children, Taraoluwa, Tifeoluwa and Tamilore, due to severe threat and assault by members of the Black AXxe Confraternity and their thugs while she worked as a lecturer in the Department of Optometry, University of Benin from June 30th, 2015 until her recent resignation on Monday, February 27 2017.
In a teary letter published by THE WILL, Omonefe revealed that she obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree in 2007; and most recently her Masters in Cell and Molecular Biology in February 2017 from the University of Benin, Nigeria.
After gaining some years of optometric private practice management skills, she applied to and got employed in the University of Benin as Lecturer II because the new job was more flexible and gave her more time to spend with her children.
Her troubles began in August 2016, after she marked scripts for a course (Epidemiology OPT 413) which she taught during the second semester.
Shortly after grades were given out, she received a strange phone call asking that she pass certain students and change their grades from “F’s” to PASS, in exchange for large sums of money
“To this I vehemently refused and told the caller that I was not selling at a market where grades could be bought. At this time, I did not report the issue to the school because there were no threats made at this time and I had no idea whom the caller was,” she wrote.
“In September 2016, a new school semester started and I had a new set of students. In the next month, October, I once again started receiving written messages on the front wind shield of my vehicle saying that no student must fail my course (Health Science for Optometrists OPT 428), or I shall be severely dealt with.
“This was a threat and I reported to the school authorities who said that they would look into the matter, but nothing was done. In November 2016, I was in the middle of a lecture teaching 400 level students when a large group of students, who were also members of the Student Union Government, walked into a lecture theatre where I was teaching demanding that I end the class immediately.
“I politely asked them to wait because I had the lecture hall booked but they refused. They started reigning insults, were shouting and ordered my students out. It was only then that some of them identified that they were there to deliver a message from their cult- the Black Axxe Confraternity.
“They said that I had ignored them so far and unless I passed every student in my class for that semester, I would pay the ultimate price. This time, I reported their threats to the police; however; since I could not identify the men involved, the case was left unsolved.”
She however sought counsel from other professors who suggested that she did what was demanded of me, because failing a student was not worth her life which she disagreed and refused to be bullied.
“On the 24th of January, 2017 my house at 6, Restoration Way, Ogba was set ablaze by suspected arsonists. It was only on police investigation that we knew that this havoc was perpetrated by the cult gang, when my neighbor (one Mr. Sammy Kayode) reported that a man had come around a day before asking for the whereabouts of myself and my husband and also asking what time we would be home,” she continued.
“Thankfully, there was no one at the house at that time; however, we regrettably lost our dogs and a lot of our personal items in the fire.
“On my way to work on the 20th of February, 2017 at about 8:15 am, I had just driven past the University of Benin Teaching Hospital gate, when my car, a black Hyundai Accent was cut off by two other cars, both black Kia Rios and I was forced off the road, which nearly caused me to have a collision with an electric pole.
“The men who totaled five in number got out of their vehicles. One of them; who seemed to be the leader; was commanding me, while the others held their guns in the air. He demanded I came down from my vehicle while two others forced me into the back seat of one of the black sedans.
“The other two men (whom I later gathered were often referred to as “Pastor” and “Mobutu” by the other cult members during the course of my kidnap) entered their other vehicle parked further ahead of the scene.
“I had been kidnapped by five of them who were speaking an unidentified Nigerian language, which I guessed was most likely was Ijaw language. They drove towards Oluku junction for about 45 minutes and parked by some scanty bushes which I discovered as we continued to walk in was near a creek.
“We entered this bush by walking on a preexisting footpath. The final area we reached was swampy and marshy which made my feet very cold. I was kept in this area without extra clothing, food and my antihypertensive medication for five days.
“During this time they mentioned to me that they were from the cult and that one of my students was related to a high ranking member in the Black Axxe , also one of their ruses to getting students to join the cult is by promising them they will graduate with good grades and find jobs without hassles.
“Since I was not doing what they had always instructed me to, I had become a problem for them. I was terrified that I would be killed during those five days that I was held. I was also raped repeatedly by two of the men who wore masks on their faces all the time. There was even an argument as to if they should release me or kill me.
“I promised to do upgrade all scores and after five days of unbearable torture, I was finally let to go. I was led to the side of the Lagos Benin express way and I boarded a bus to Uselu market looking tattered and abused.
“The torture I had just experienced was too much to bear. At the time of my release, insect bites, and abrasion on my skin had become sore and painful. I was in so much fear and I began to suspect anyone that came across my path.
“My husband had reported the kidnap to the police, and on my release, we reported hoped up at the police station as well. We were then told that they would continue with their thorough investigation on the case.
“Consequent upon this, I received a phone call from an anonymous caller, telling me the Black axxe cult had their ears and eyes everywhere. He also asked why I had gone to the police to report the kidnapping against their warnings, and that this act would make them descend on my family. He made a promise that the next fire in our house would be carried out when everyone would be at home! I was petrified.
“At this time I had to abandon my phone number and I got a new line and a brand new handset immediately. This was because I did not want them tracking me through any of the social networks or apps.
“Upon my release on the 25 the February 2017, I was taken to Liola Cross Hospital, Benin City. I was examined as an out patient and was given medications. As I left the hospital that night, we all left for Abeokuta, Ogun State and checked into a Royal Pavillion Hotel.
“To my amazement, I received a call on my new phone line from someone with the same voice I recognized as that of the anonymous caller quoting my room number; and also saying that we were not safe anywhere. It was at that time I concluded that this Black Axxe cult had the strongest network of criminals I could ever have imagined.
“I decided to quit my job at the university and Bunmi suggested a brief vacation so that the resignation could be finalized and things blow over. Before we left Nigeria, I marked my final papers and not wanting to compromise my ethics and intergrity, I marked the papers giving each person what they rightfully deserved and then handed in the papers along with my resignation on Monday, February 27th 2017.
“I and my family left Nigeria the next day and arrived Canada on the 1st of March, 2017. I got calls and whatsapp messages from my neighbor informing me that strange men had come to his home asking for me. I immediately called him back and he told me the members said they awaited to kill me and my children. I was terrified at this time and asked him to report to the police.
“He said he already had and that the police told him they were overwhelmed with work and there was nothing much they could do as I was already out of Nigeria.
“These men who had identified themselves as Black Axxe members sent me a message once more stating that my resignation would not be allowed. They warned that I had been treating them as a joke all this while, and that I had to return to my job to pass every student as I had promised during the kidnap, or my family and I would be killed as a warning to other professors who dared to go against them.
“I am so much more terrified because I was willing to let go of the job just to appease these gang members, and it seems as though they would not relent until they take my life and the life of my loved ones.
“From the way they tracked my all the way to Abeokuta, to the extent of mentioning my room number, It serves as an affirmation to the fact that Black Axxe Confraternity is well connected and diverse and that their members are spread throughout Nigeira and other countries.
“I rummaged through all the assault I had gone through while in the hands of the kidnappers and I am not willing to watch my children suffer similar fates. I decided to speak with a lawyer in Toronto and from there we were able to file for protection.
“It had never been my intention to make a refugee claim in Canada. I had always been favorable to the idea of living in Canada and applied through the express entry program, to which I am currently in the express entry pool for. However, based on the threats on both me and my family, we have decided to seek protection at this unexpected time, because we can not return home for fear of death.
“So far, the police have not been able to protect I and my family. I therefore am in consistent fear because I do not know what evil will be meted on me or my family next.
“My family and I are at your mercy. Please help