Mwabu Cyril Efobi’s countrymen will ship his body back to his home in Abaetete in Southwest Nigeria next month.
But first, Efobi’s friends and extended family will honor his memory by holding a vigil early Monday night in the neighborhood where he was shot to death on Election Day. Police have not charged anyone with killing Efobi, 56, in front of the Universal Cab Co. where he had worked for more than 15 years.
Efobi’s wake will take place at the Carolina Events Center on Gresham Lake Road on Dec. 9, says his cousin, Christopher Ilonze, a Raleigh business owner. His funeral will be in Nigeria.
Efobi attended high school with Ilonze in Abaetete.
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“He was a fun guy, always making people laugh,” Ilonze said. “He was a charismatic personality. He has always believed in himself.”
The two cousins moved to Raleigh in 1982 and attended Shaw University, where Efobi earned a degree in business management in 1986.
Efobi had finished work for the day and had just headed out of the front door of Universal Cab at 432 Hill St. when he was shot at about 6:15 p.m.
“There was a person on the side of the building who came out front,” said John Eluwa, a Raleigh immigration attorney and Efobi’s friend. “During the encounter, the man shot him and ran away.”
Police and emergency medical workers found Efobi’s body crumpled atop a welcome mat at the front door. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators released surveillance photos two days after the shooting that showed a man in a white suit outside the building. In one image he appears to have a beard and is wearing a baseball cap. A second photo showed the man running, a hat attached to the suit pulled over his head.
Eluwa said the police told him the shooter is a medium-sized black man with a light complexion and facial hair. He was wearing dark glasses.
“They know he’s local, not out of state, not out of town,” Eluwa said. “So they are very optimistic he will be apprehended soon.”
Detectives think the man was wearing a cap with a logo similar to the Chicago Bulls emblem, said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. “The eyeglasses could be glasses with a thicker frame,” Sughrue added.
Eluwa met Efobi more than 20 years ago while representing him in a court case in which he was acquitted. He described Efobi as an easygoing, sociable, hardworking and reliable man who was a familiar face at Nigerian community events in the Triangle.
“He was very, very friendly with people,” Eluwa said. “He was a people person.”
Eluwa said Efobi’s death brought strong reactions from the Washington Terrace neighborhood where the cab company is located.
“When the news broke, there was an outcry on Facebook,” Eluwa said. “He was loved by the community. When the police went door-to-door in Washington Terrace, and on Maple Street and Pender Street, people were willing to talk. People want to see this person apprehended and prosecuted.”
Efobi is survived by his sister, Chinwe Amuzie of Atlanta, and three younger brothers, Pius and Uju Efobi who live in New Jersey, and Tony Efobi, who lives in Tennessee. An older brother, Emeka Efobi, is a chief in their hometown.
A vigil honoring the memory of Mwabu Cyril Efobi will take place Monday at 6 p.m. in the 400 block of Hill Street in Southeast Raleigh.
Friends and family members are trying to raise money to ship Efobi’s body back to his native Nigeria. People can contribute by calling Chris Ilonze at 919-358-6936 or John Eluwa at 919-417-6973, or by visiting Eluwa’s law office in downtown Raleigh at 5 W. Hargett St., Suite 900.