Miss Glory Okon, a Nigeria, with international passport No .339266, whose last residential address was No.17 Cole Street, Lawanson, Lagos, was one of the passengers intending to board flight WT.840 (Lagos –Rome Via Kano ), from the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Her ticket read Lagos – Kano – Rome – London – Dusseldorf – London – Lagos on April 21, 1985. In the course of undergoing the normal customs formalities, Glory Okon was invited into the Customs Screening Room at the Aminu Kano International Airport, where she was bodily searched by O.C &E II, Miss Hajara Musa, who was on duty on the night in question.
In the screening room, Miss Hajara Musa , recovered 60 pounds sterling, U.S $301 and 10,000 Italian Lira, 3 polythene packs of a substances suspected to be dangerous drugs from her “private part”. The substances weighed 56.7gm and was later analyzed and found to be cocaine. Hajara at that point invited her colleague on duty O.C & E II – Mrs. Philomena Nnene Uwaezuoke to witness the item recovered from the brassiere and vagina of Miss Glory Okon. After the body search, Hajara in the presence of Philomena, reported the results of her search to S.C. II. Mr. Fatai Omolaja Labode, who was in – charge of screening on the night of April 21/22 1985, at the Aminu Kano International Airport. Miss Hajara Musa, also handed over to Mr. Labode the items recovered during the body search on Miss Glory Okon. Later that night the customs recorded two statements under caution of Miss Glory Okon at the airport. In the early hours of the morning of April 22, 1985, Miss Glory Okon was transferred from the Airport to the Customs and Excise Legal seat at the Customs Barracks at Katsina Road, Kano. There she was issued with a notice to the effect that the items recovered from her during her body search, had been seized by the Federal Military Government. She was then arrested and put in the cell at the Customs Barracks at Katsina Road, Kano, apparently pending the compilation of her case files for her to be transferred to the Police. Later that day she made a third statement to the customs and only agreed to eat a little quantity of food and drank some water.
In the early morning of April 23, 1985, Miss Glory Okon complained of not feeling well although she did not particularly mention the nature of her ailment. However, the Customs authorities, made necessary arrangements and took her to the Nassarawa Hospital. There she was attended to by one Dr. Nwokolo, who later wrote 4 prescriptions. Two of these were available and collected from the Hospitals dispensary while the Customs made efforts to procure the remaining 2 outside. They only succeeded in procuring one. They were unable to procure Ismelin Injection prescribed. However, Glory Okon refused to take the available drugs; she also refused to eat throughout that day.
On the morning of the April 24, 1985, Miss Glory Okon was returned to Nassarawa Hospital, on the instructions of Dr. Nwokolo from the previous day. However, on learning that the Ismelin Injection had not been administered on the patient (Miss Glory Okon), the doctor did not attend to her. She was returned to the Customs cell while the Customs made another effort to obtain the prescribed injection without success.
Glory Okon was transferred later that day at about 5:10p.m. To the Airport Police where she was detained. Up to the time of her transfer she refused to eat anything.On Thursday, April 25, 1985, the Airport Police, Kano, began preliminary investigations into Miss Glory Okon’s case but she refused to talk. She also refused to eat. The Airport Police later that day, at about 4:10p.m., transferred Glory Okon to the State C.I.D, Kano, for further investigation. At the state C.I.D Glory Okon ate only a little quantity of food (Eba and Egusi Soup) and drank a little quantity of water that day. Part of the substances recovered from her were sent to the Forensic Laboratory, Oshodi, for analysis. She still did not answer any of the questions asked.
On Friday, April 26, 1985, Glory Okon still refused to answers question put to her at the state C.I.D. and throughout that day, she only ate some bananas and drank a little quantity of tea.
On Saturday, April 27, 1985, because Glory Okon still refused to eat and was looking emaciated, she was taken to the Murtala Hospital, Kano, by the police at about 1:00p.m. There she was put on drip. At about 8:30p.m. of the same day, Glory Okon was moved from Murtala Mohammed Hospital (due to lack of bed for admission) to the Aminu Kano Memorial Hospital, Kano, where she was attended to and admitted .
On Sunday, April 28, 1985, at about 6:20a.m., Miss Glory Okon was pronounced dead at Mallam Aminu Kano Memorial Hospital, by the hospital authority. The police conveyed her body to the Murtala Mohammed Memorial Hospital, Kano, where a post mortem examination was performed. The cause of her death was attributed to two factors: infection by virus and poisoning by chlorinated hydrocarbon. It was also noted by the expert who conducted the post mortem that the toxicological samples of the chlorinated hydrocarbon in Gloria Okon’s brain, liver and kidney were not sufficient enough to have killed her. In conclusion, she was said to have died probably due to the infection – virusal with interstitial Pneumonia and inflammatory changes in the heart and liver (Reactive myocorditis and hepatitis) her death was not attributed to anybody and suicide was not ruled out.
Dr Wahab Alabi Akintanwa of the Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, in cross examination by Eze Emelogu who was Counsel of 6 Custom Officers detained after Gloria’ Okon’s death noted that “What is not certain is how this chemical (Chlorinated Hydrocarbon) entered Gloria Okon’s body” he pointed out that Gloria Okon knowing that her offence demanded capital punishment must have taken away her own life, to prevent prosecution.
In her confessional statement, Gloria Okon allegedly claimed she was a courier for some ‘highly placed Nigerians’. She mentioned the name ‘Bassey’. Unfortunately the ‘Bassey’ she mentioned don’t have a surname and Bassey is a common name for people from Cross River and Akwa Ibom State, so there is no way to track down Bassey. In the National Concord Newspaper of April 30, 1985, the paper wrote that Gloria started mentioning names of people in high places, but this was not the truth.
Some of the media reports had it then that Gloria Okon’s corpse was not shown to the members of her family. The question is? who came out as a relative of Gloria? Nobody came forward to see her while in detention, while she was in the hospital and after she died.After the death of Dele Giwa, speculations made the rounds in many places that Giwa had interviewed Gloria Okon on the street of London and he was going to publish the story and that was why he was killed. There is no substantiated fact whatsoever to back this up, because Gloria Okon died on April 28, 1985
It was speculated that the wife of the then Chief of Army staff (Maryam Babangida) was the boss of Gloria Okon and that she sneaked Gloria out of the country so that she will not blow the lid off their involvement in cocaine business. There is no fact to prove this either. As the unsubstantiated allegation went on Gloria Okon case resurfaced.
CONTRIBUTED BY Dr James Raphael