Nigerian police have arrested a man on Friday who confessed to being a serial killer. The 39-year old man, identified as Gracious David-West, was arrested as he attempted to flee Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to a neighbouring city.

David-West, who is from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is Nigeria’s first recorded serial killer. He confessed to over 15 murders, claiming he had no motive except for an “urge” to kill.

“I don’t know what is making me kill. Immediately the urge comes on me, I kill,” he said.

“After killing, I will start regretting. I even went to a church and told the pastor that I have been killing girls in hotels. The pastor invited me to see the senior pastor during a programme but I waited and couldn’t see him so I left the church and went back and lodged in a hotel and resumed killing.”

The cult member also confessed that he stole money from his victims, using the stolen money to lure future victims.

“While the argument is on, some of them will tell me not to kill them that they have money in their accounts and can offer anything just to save their lives.

“I will ask them how much? They will check it before me; when I confirm the account balance, I will collect the PIN and after the day breaks, when I must have killed them, I will go to ATM and collect the money in the account.

“I will use the money and get other girls. I have killed five girls in Port Harcourt, seven in Owerri and three in Lagos. I started the killing in Lagos, that was where I got money because the first girl had N52,000 ($145) in her account. After that I went to Port Harcourt, then Owerri, [then] I returned to Port Harcourt. The last girl I killed, I met her at the club,” he said.

Port Harcourt State police detective, Mustapha Dandaura, said: “One of the hotels in Port Harcourt who complied with our directive to install CCTV cameras in the reception and hotel corridors was monitoring the camera and saw the picture of the suspect Gracious David West and uploaded the video online and it went viral on social media.

“The hotel later reported to the police about the development and released to us the telephone number he dropped with the hotel.

“We began to track him on his phone, and with God on our side, he was arrested … yesterday [Thursday] afternoon.

“The command’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), team were on their usual stop and search duties when they intercepted a commercial bus heading towards Uyo. When they offloaded the passengers of the vehicle for one-on-one search, with the help of the viral photo, they saw the suspect in the same attire (strip T-shirt and blue trousers), on the video, which he is also putting on now [when we arrested him].

“The SARS team called my attention to it … and I asked that they brought him straight to my office. They brought him in handcuffs, the moment he stepped into my office, I called him by his name, David-West, he answered, and I said to him, ‘Welcome to my office.'”

“He then said to me, ‘Please sir, I am ready to tell you the truth, I don’t want any problem’,” the police chief concluded.

West had the same signature, tying a white cloth to the victims’ legs, necks and hands. Last week, women in Southern Nigeria marched in the streets to protest the murders, although it was uncertain at the time if the murders were by the same man.

“Their killers must be found,” they chanted. “We the ladies are no longer safe in this state,” said protester, Lucy Okeke. “All we are demanding is greater protection for the women in the society, [and] all the victims of this so-called serial killer.”

Activist Emem Okon accused police of slut-shaming the victims, calling them prostitutes, and refusing to take investigations seriously.

According to Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, three in ten Nigerians suffer from mental health issues. The World Health Organisation places it fifteenth in the world for suicide rates. Despite the country’s mental health crisis, the country has only eight public mental health hospitals shared among a population of about 202,000,000 people.

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