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St. Petersburg cabbie slain, destroying family's dreams

ST. PETERSBURG — Quiet after hours of crying, Chiamaka Obinka cradled her 5-month-old daughter and wondered what would become of her dream.

The 28-year-old Nigerian woman immigrated to St. Petersburg three years ago to live with her husband, care for people as a nurse and raise a family.

Now, her husband is dead.

Police say someone shot Cyril Obinka, 43, while he drove a Blue Star cab on Friday night.

"I came here to make a family," Mrs. Obinka said, "and they have taken that family away from me."

About 9:30 p.m. Friday, Cyril Obinka's cab veered out of a parking lot at the Palm View Apartment Complex at 5420 26th St. S and drove into a building.

At first, police thought Cyril Obinka was in a car accident. But homicide detectives were called when officers saw blood covering the interior of the cab. They determined Obinka had been shot in his upper body.

Police said they don't have a suspect or a motive.

"I just want to know why they killed him," his wife said Saturday. "He came here to work and provide for his family. Why did they kill him?"

Cyril Obinka moved to the United States about a decade ago. He worked at Blue Star Cab, saved money and bought a house. He met his future wife at a friend's wedding in Nigeria.

In her home country, Mrs. Obinka cared for her grandmother. Here, she earned a license as a practical nurse. She felt good helping people.

Then, the couple learned a baby was on the way. Even though he had been robbed on the job at least three times, Cyril Obinka vowed to drive his cab so his wife could stay home with their first child for a little while.

This month, Mrs. Obinka was scheduled to go back to nursing school. Now, she wonders how she'll pay the mortgage, feed her child and survive in a country where she has no relatives.

"What do they want me to do?" she asked, surrounded by Nigerian friends.

Fellow Nigerian cabdriver Stephens Salami, 41, was angry his friend lost his life trying to earn a living and provide a service. He hopes the public will cooperate with police to solve the crime.

"Based on what I heard about America, I wasn't expecting this," he said. "There's supposed to be security. There's supposed to be freedom."

Mrs. Obinka wants to bury her husband in Nigeria, then return to the United States.

Two weeks ago, Ginika was christened at the St. Matthew's Episcopal Church. In the Igbo dialect, her name means "There is nothing greater than God."

Anyone with information may call St. Petersburg Police at (727) 893-7780.

St. Petersburg cabbie slain, destroying family's dreams 05/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 5:06pm]
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