High-Profile Attack on Maersk Manager Rattles Lagos Establishment

by on December 13, 2019

In Nigeria, intruders stabbed the managing director of Maersk Nigeria, Gildas Tohouo, and his wife, Bernadette, following a December 8 holiday party at their home. She was killed on the spot while he remains in the equivalent of intensive care.

They have three small children, all of whom have been accounted for and are being cared for, according to Maersk. The Lagos media is reporting that the intruders also forced one of the two to drink a liquid suspected to be acid. The Lagos state police have arrested two suspects. They are stating that one of the perpetrators was an electrician known to Tohouo and his wife, who admitted the other suspect to the residence during the course of a power failure.

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Tohouo is Cameroonian. Nigerian media variously reports his wife as Hungarian or Bulgarian. Maersk is a major shipping line, based in Denmark. The motive appears to have been theft. There is often an uptick in violent crime in Nigeria during the holiday season when expenses are high.

The brutal murders are a nightmare for expatriates and have unsettled the Lagos “establishment.” It occurred during a period of strikes by electric power workers that reportedly shut down the national grid. (The strikes have since ended.) Economically, the times are bad, and the closing of the country’s borders may have made things worse.

There is also concern about apparent assaults by government agencies, especially the State Security Service, on the rule of law and freedom of the media. More generally, there is the perception that President Buhari is either returning to what are seen as his authoritarian roots or alternatively that he is largely missing in action, earning his nickname “Baba go-slow.”

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There are also whispers (as there always are) that Vice President Osinbajo, who enjoys the confidence of the business community, has been marginalized by the “cabal” around the president.

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