By Chuks Madueke
The police in Abuja, finally arraigned for armed robbery, the suspects earlier paraded by the Department of State Services, SSS, on August 1, in a televised press conference, before Justice E. A. Asemota of Oredo Magistrate Court, Benin City, Edo State. It will be recalled that in that press conference by SSS, the suspects were alleged to have on May 4, robbed and killed Olaitan Oyerinde, Principal Secretary to Edo State governor, Mr Adams Oshiomole at his residence, 65, 2nd Ugbor Road, G.R.A Benin City at 2am.
The suspects arraigned before the magistrate court included Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi, Raymond Onajite Origbo, Edeh Chikezie, Saidu Yakubu and others at large. The suspects pleaded not guilty to the armed robbery charge preferred against them and were granted bail while the case was adjourned to November 23.
This development rather brought to rest the intrigues and politics that had trailed the death of Oshiomole’s Principal Secretary, which gave vent to various shades of accusations and counter-accusations between the police and the SSS. Then on the other hand, between Oshiomole’s government and Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP, leadership in Edo State since Oyerinde’s death occurred during the tensed build up to the last gubernatorial elections in Edo State.
Parading the six suspects over the murder while police investigation was still ongoing, the SSS had created the impression that it was running a parallel show when it was expected to close ranks with the police initially over the matter. Considering the sensitive nature of the agency to the overall security of the nation, the SSS is also expected not to be amenable to such hasty publicity stunts in its operations.
Is it likely that SSS paraded fake or perhaps innocent suspects in August in that widely televised media stunt? Was the action a deliberate one or perhaps inefficiency and laxity by the secret security agency? Or was it a cover-up for some parochial and political interests?
However, it will be recalled that the police under the DIG “D”, Peter Y. Gana on May 4, immediately deployed an investigating team over the murder case. The police investigating team led by one Chris Ezike, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, FSARS, had painstakingly identified 18 different suspects.
Yet after careful analysis of the reconstruction of the crime scene and the confessional statements by these different 18 suspects, one had no doubt that the police had successfully cracked the Oyerinde murder case. By dint of hard work and routine investigation that saw the police team traversing Kano, Adamawa, Lagos and Benin, the initial success in the case came through the telephone service providers that established the use and location of Oyerinde’s and his wife’s blackberry phones by the suspects. From there, a chain of other events followed that led to the arrest of the 18 suspects. Evidently, some of these suspects were identified by Oyerinde’s wife and his security guard as those who raided their residence on May 4. Yet on the other hand, Oyerinde’s wife and the guard could not identify any of those suspects earlier paraded by the SSS.
Kudos should, therefore,
be given to the police for cracking the Oyerinde murder case despite the initial attempt by the SSS to bungle the matter at the outset. The investigating team led by Ezike should be commended for its diligence, commitment and courage in cracking the Oyerinde murder case thereby saving the country another round of national embarrassment and shame.
In fact, the Chris Ezike-led team should be promoted immediately to encourage efficiency and productivity in the force since the achievement was no mean feat considering the circumstances and intrigues surrounding it and perhaps considering too that such high profile murder cases in the past have remained unresolved.
Yet one of the factors that contributed to the team’s success was the professional, dispassionate and unbiased stance taken by its leadership over the matter. Although attempts were made to influence and vilify the team, yet it remained focused and dedicated to its duty. No doubt, the team should be celebrated and rewarded, especially over recording such a feat at a time the police force is perceived as some blight in our collective efforts to improve our global image and rating.
President Goodluck Jonathan should auspiciously institute a panel of inquiry to look into the circumstances that caused the initial friction between the police and the SSS in order to forestall such cases of inter-agency rivalry in future since it has been proven to negate the overall principles of national interest. Such has gradually assumed an alarming proportion in the polity. The president should also consider as a matter of urgency awarding national honours to the Chris Ezike-led investigating team. Sincerely speaking, no garland is too much for the team.
Reliable sources have also quoted that this dynamic team led by Ezike have cracked the riddles surrounding the recent death in Lagos of a newly married man, Mr. Ugochukwu Ozuah.
At the moment, five policemen are said to be in custody over the Ozuah murder awaiting the recommendations of an expert ballistician before the development is made public.
Consequently, the nation may miss another opportunity to be so reckoned in the comity of nations if the Chris Ezike-led police investigating team was not rewarded for this selfless service to the nation.
*Madueke, a journalist writes from Abuja.