By SIMON EBEGBULEM
CONTROVERSY has continued to trail the killing of the Principal Private Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, by men suspected to be assassins. Comrade Oyerinde was killed at about 2.00 a.m, May 4, 2012, at his Ugbor Road residence, GRA Benin City.
Following his gruesome murder which was perpetrated at the heat of the governorship campaign in the state, Governor Oshiomhole placed a N10million ransom on the head of the killers of Oyerinde, whom he described as a son.
After the killing, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar to investigate the killing and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. Consequently, crack team of detectives from the Force headquarters in Abuja led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ezike and Supol Irioge stormed Benin City with forensic experts with a view to unearth the killers. Nothing was heard about the investigations until Wednesday July 11, 2012.
While making security arrangements for the governorship election in the state, the IGP declared to journalists that the killers of Oyerinde have been found but, however, failed to give details of how they were found. He said: “I want to announce that we have arrested four persons who had killed the PA to the governor. And that is a credit to the police.”
Late Olaitan Oyerinde
On Friday, July 27, 2012, the Executive Director of the African Network for Environment and the Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor was arrested by the police at about 2.00 p.m in connection with the murder. It will be recalled that Ugolor is a close friend of Oyerinde, and as a matter of fact, was the one who took Oyerinde to the hospital after he was shot by the suspects.
It was said that Ugolor dropped Oyerinde at his house at about 11p.m after they came back from an outing. After Oyerinde was shot at about 2.00 a.m, Oyerinde’s wife, ran to Ugolor’s place close by to inform him that her husband had been shot. It was Ugolor who then informed other government officials before they rushed him to Benin Central hospital where he gave up the ghost.
Mr. Innocent Edemhanria, Programme/Policy Officer at ANEEJ, who was at the office when the armed policemen stormed their office said: “At about 2.05 pm on Friday heavily armed security operatives some wearing Federal SARS jacket, others in plain clothes, swooped on our office and took away our Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor.” The security operatives, who numbered about ten had picked him up from somewhere in town and brought him to the office.
They had ransacked his private home and office and took away some items. Staff of the office had their cell phones taken away from them and switched off for as long as the security men held them hostage which lasted for about three hours.
They later returned the phones at about 4.35 pm before vacating the office premises. A staff of Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Kingsley Nnajiaka was at ANEEJ secretariat then and was held hostage for the same period”.
Confession from a suspect
It was said that Ugolor was arrested following a confession from one of the suspects that one “David” gave the gang money to kill Oyerinde. It was also alleged that there was a call log which buttressed the point that Ugolor and the suspect had a discussion. Ugolor’s arrest came as a shock to many in the state due to his antecedent as an environmental activist and one of those who have fought doggedly for the prudent management of resources by state and Federal Governments.
It was not surprising, therefore, that civil society organisations in the state have been protesting his continued detention by the police. Solicitor to Rev.Ugolor, Afolabi Olayiwola, alleged that his client was being framed up by the police. In his petition to the Inspector General of Police, he lamented that “the condition of the said Rev. David Ugolor is totally bad as he is in a cell where there is no toilet and he is using bucket for this purpose at the Area Commander’s office, Benin City, and where there are cells that have such facilities in good condition.
While we are not obstructing police investigation on the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, we are seriously appealing to you to reconsider the health condition of the said Rev. David Ugolor and take a critical look at his present condition and do the needful in the following: Either grant him bail to a reliable surety because he has made statement to the police wherein he denied the allegation.
“Or equally remove him from the police cell at Area Commander’s office, Benin City which has no basic toilet facilities where he is been detained with criminals who use this same deplorable facilities and are made to empty the bucket regualrly in the soak-away pit”.
Last Wednesday, members of the civil society organisations protested on the streets of Benin declaring that his continued detention is an attempt to divert attention from the real killers of Oyerinde, adding that the way and manner the arrest was made was ‘clearly stage managed in order to indict an innocent person.”
Some of the organisations that protested include the Gani Fawehinmi Movement for Good Governance, Edo State Conference of NGOs (CONGOs), South South Youth League, Downtrodden Forum For Development, DFFD, Niger Delta Youth Congress, Voice of the Masses and ten others.
In their address to newsmen, they noted: “We have examined the situation and reached the conclusion that some faceless persons who feel threatened by the lawful activities of Rev. Ugolor and his organisation have planned to dent his image and taint him with the murder of comrade Olaitan”.
Investigation into the matter
However, investigation into the matter took another twist last Wednesday, when the State Security Services, SSS, in Abuja, paraded six persons who confessed to have been the mastermind of the murder. The Deputy Director, Public Relations Officer of the service Marilyn Ogar, who paraded the suspects, said “investigation revealed that careless statements made by Ali Ihade, Oyerinde’s security guard, at various times about is master’s position in government attracted the attention of the prime suspect, Mohammed Ibrahim.
On the day of the robbery, Abdulahi specifically instructed other gang members to tie up the Ihade before they entered the compound so that Ihade will not see his face”. She added that the suspects confessed to have shot and killed Oyerinde because when he ran into his badroom and attempted to go underneath his bed, they believed he was trying to reach for a gun.
According to Ogar, “Oyerinde was shot and killed by the prime suspect Muhammed Ibrahim Abdulahi, when he ran into his bedroom and attempted to go under his bed. Abdulahi said he believed Oyerinde was reaching out for a gun under the bed and, therefore, shot him”.
The confession threw the entire investigation into confusion as members of the public are at a loss whether to believe the police who held Ugolor as one of the suspects, or the SSS. Following the Abuja revelation, members of the civil society stormed the police headquarters in Benin City, Thursday morning demanding for the immediate release of Ugolor. The protesters barricaded the State CID, after it was learnt that the police had stopped the wife of Ugolor, Ngozi from seeing him and that they (the Police) will now be responsible for his feeding.
Sobbing profusedly she said between sobs: “they have prevented me from gaining access to my husband. They said I should not bring food any more that they will take care of that. I appeal to the President to intervene in this matter. My husband is innocent, some body is framing him up and God will expose the person. They want to poison my husband just like they have done to many others. The public should help me please”.
In an address to newsmen, the civil society groups noted thus: “We have examined the situation and reached the conclusion that some faceless persons who feel threatened by the lawful activities of Rev. Ugolor and his organisation have planned to dent his image and taint him with the murder of comrade Olaitan.
The question on the lips of people in the state now is who are the real killers of Oyerinde? Is the police trying to bastardise the investigations or being used by some highly placed individuals to achieve a point? Only time will tell.
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