OYERINDE MURDER SCANDAL: The anatomy of contentious investigations (1)
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South South
…Cross-referencing DSS and Police reports
This is the curious – very curious – twist in the investigations into the murder of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, the late Principal Private Secretary, PPS, to Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, by the Police and the Department of State Service, DSS. Last December, Sunday Vanguard examined the inconsistencies in the report of the Police as signposted by their records. In this series, we probe into the seeming shambles that was introduced into the report of the DSS and the Police.
The details will shock you; at a time when the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, in a letter, after penultimate week’s public hearing by the House of Representatives, tried to pull wool. Whereas a certain Judge John J. Sirica, U.S. District Court judge in charge of the Watergate break-in scandal, did all he could to assist the prosecution in getting to the root of the matter, it appears that the more senior government officials get involved in the Oyerinde case, the foggier it gets. But using the Police Report and the DSS Report of their respective investigations, Sunday Vanguard attempts to make sense of the situation.
PLACED side by side, the reports of the Police and Department of State Service, DSS, on the May 4, 2012, murder of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, the late Principal Private Secretary, PPS, to Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, come as results of undercover operations.
On some scores, the reports are not dissimilar. Both agencies agree that the suspects that killed Oyerinde were four in number. The reports also agree that they killers were armed robbers. In addition, there were buyers of stolen good.
That is where the similarity ends. The two reports are, in their true essence, opposed to and antagonistic of each other.
Indeed, the DSS, in an August 23, 2012 letter by its Director General, DG, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, signed on his behalf by Charles Madu, and addressed to the Inspector General of Police, titled “Transfer of Suspects”, named Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi as the ring leader of the four-man gang that killed Oyerinde. The second and third suspects are Raymond Onajite Origbo and Edeh Chikezie. The fourth suspect (probably still at large) was not identified in the report, but four receivers/purchasers of stolen items were named, bringing the total to seven.
The DSS letter, with reference number S. 605/9021,clearly marked for the attention of Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Chris Ezike, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, FCID, Garki, Area 10, Abuja, was in itself a response to a previous letter, with reference number, CR:3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.T1/14, and dated August 14, nine days earlier, from the police.
The police, in the letter, wanted the suspects which DSS had earlier paraded, to be released to them.
On its part, the police found that four persons to wit: Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman, Auta Umaru Ali and Moses Asamah Okoro were the four persons that killed Oyerinde. The police report, however, identified Garba Maisamari, a stolen goods receiver and alleged sponsor, to be the mastermind and recommended that Musa, Usman, Ali, Okoro and Adamu, alias Duna, be charged to court for conspiracy, armed robbery and murder of the aide to Oshiomhole.
The constant in all of this is that Oyerinde was killed. However, two sets of criminals can never be responsible for the killing on the same date, time and venue. Clearly, there is either a shambling approach to the investigation by one of the agencies or the truth is being stood on its head deliberately.
Rather than clear the perplexing ambiguity, top shots of the police and DSS, who appeared at the public hearing conducted by the Committee on Public Petitions, House of Representatives, led by Hon. Uzo Azubuike, February 27, on the alleged poor handling of the investigations into the murder, only succeeded in further adding shambles. The petition was filed by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations, CONGOS, Edo State.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr. O.T Olatigbe, stated the obvious truth when he said at the public hearing that the Federal Ministry of Justice was “confused” about the murder. He said the Ministry was in a quandary over whom to prosecute.
Typically, however, and in furtherance of the shambolism that has attended the murder investigation, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, in a letter, with reference number, HAGF/NASS/2013/VOL.1/2, and dated February, 28, to the Chairman of the Committee, vehemently denied that the Ministry was “confused” and went ahead to declare that, constitutionally, the authority to investigate criminal cases belongs to the police.
Observers were left stupefied by Adoke’s outburst, as he seemed more interested in asserting the authority of one of the police over the DSS, instead of addressing the core issue of who killed Oyerinde based on available evidence. In fact, a close look at the two reports would show that there is not just confusion as Olatigbe stated at the public hearing, unquestionably embedded in the reports is also anarchy.
Synopsis of the police report
From the police report, signed by DCP Chris Ezike, a copy of which is available to Sunday Vanguard, the obvious conclusion is that human rights activist and Executive Director of Africa Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Benin City, Rev David Ugolor, contracted the alleged prime suspect, Maisamari, to kill his bosom friend, Oyerinde, for N20 million. Maisamari, in turn, recruited Musa and others.
The report said one of the suspects, Okoro, disclosed, under interrogation, that that they were hired to kill Oyerinde and that the contract was given to Maisamari. According to the police, “Maisamari admitted the offence and named one David, whom he described as ‘not too tall, dark in complexion, get body small and wears native dress called old school always’, as the man who gave him the job.”
The statements of the suspects, except for a few that wrote of their own volition, were interpreted and handwritten by police officers that quizzed them. However, those in the first category signed or thumb printed after interrogation.
Summary of the DSS report
With the police pointing at assassination, the DSS indicated that it was an armed robbery that went awry.
In a brief on the suspects forwarded to the police, DSS said, “Abdulahi, the leader of the four-man gang that robbed and killed Oyerinde, disclosed that he got information about the deceased from his security guard who had unwittingly talked about the affluence of his boss at several fora. However, he maintained that his shooting was not intended to kill Oyerinde, but to scare him”.
The DSS did not present any statement made by the suspects to the police, but it was categorical that it had the real killers. Nevertheless, it transferred “1 Europa Magnum pump action, No. Zumrut-Silah San 1270NBDT5870, MP-43 (Russia) double barrel gun and one NM27EMFC (Russia) double barrel gun to the police, the three guns, which Abdulahi confessed were used in the robbery,” among other exhibits, to the police.
Now the poser: How can the police and the DSS have different sets of suspects agreeing to have committed the same crime? It is simply not possible and there is more than meets the eye in the case. The probability is that a set of suspects might have been tortured to lie by either of the security agencies, in their desperation to take credit for uncovering the killers of Oyerinde.
What police suspects said
The alleged mastermind of Oyerinde’s murder, in the police report, Maisamari,39, a father of five, born in Bagudo in Bagudo Local Government Area of Kebbi State, in a statement made to the police on June 28, 2012, did not mention that he was hired by David Ugolor to carry out the murder.
According to Maisamari, a Muslim, who hails from Zarbama tribe in Niger Republic and came to Benin City in 1999 from Lagos “in search of better life for myself”, “On the 3rd day of May, 2012, at about 18.00 hours, one tall black man, who is my customer, came to me at Ring Road, Benin City with the sum of $850 (eight hundred and fifty dollars) to change into Naira. The man had (previously) come to me on two occasions with the sum of $500 (five hundred dollars) each to change to Naira. On the second time the man came to change money, I called Moses Asamah Okoro, alias Auchi Boy, on telephone, to come with his motorcycle and, as the man left, we trailed him to his house at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA.
“On the 3rd of May, 2012, we also trailed the man to a beer parlour at Adesuwa Road. We waited for him to finish but he stayed long and we left before him. Moses (Auchi) now dropped me in my house and they went for the operation. I called Danjuma Musa on phone to meet Moses at Owina Junction, off Sakponba Road, Benin City and plan properly for the operation in the man’s house at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City. I also informed him to contact Murtala Usman and Auta Umaru. At about 22.00 hrs, Moses called me on telephone to inform me that they were about taking off and I replied okay. At about O3.00 hours of 4th May, 2012, Moses called me on telephone and informed me that they had finished the operation successfully.
“At about 12.00 hrs of 4th May, 2012, Danjuma Musa came to my house and picked me on his motorcycle to the beer parlour at Owina Junction, where I met Moses Auchi, Murtala Usman and Auta Umaru Ali. They brought out the items that were stolen from the man’s house, which included one laptop computer, one Galaxy telephone handset, gold, jewelries, four Blackberry telephone handsets. I weighed the gold with my weighing scale and it weighed 14.7 gram. I bought the gold N75,000 (seventy five thousand naira) , the Galaxy phone N22,000, the four Blackberry phones, N85,000. I paid the sum of N150,000 as advance…”.
He went on, “I am the person who planned the whole operation. I know them as armed robbers but I do not know how they got their guns. I know that receiving stolen property from armed robbers and conspiring with them to rob people’s houses is a crime. I will not do it again if I am forgiven…”
About two weeks after the statement, precisely July 12, 2012, Maisamari, apparently asked about David during interrogation, replied, “I also know one man whose name is David. I have known him for about one year now. He comes to Ring Road and exchanges money from me and he is my customer. He has also bought gold from me but only once, early this year, 2012. David is black in complexion, not too tall, but get body small. He always wears native dress they call old school. He speaks English language fluently, he drives a car but I do not know the (name of the) car. Each time he comes to me, he parks his car at Oredo LGA Car Park.”
The alleged murder mastermind continued: “It is at Ring Road Exchange Market that me and David know ourselves. This David is the person who told me to arrange to kill the man at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City and promised that he will pay us N20 million if the assignment is executed successfully. He paid me the sum of N200,000 as advance payment for the job. He paid me the N200,000 about two days before the date of the assignment. He told me that why he wanted the man to be killed is because he want to take over his job in the office. This David is a friend to this man who we killed at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City because they came to change money together from me…
“David called me on telephone and told me about (sic) for us to kill. He advised me to follow them so that I can know the man’s house. Myself, Danjuma Musa and Moses Asamah Okoro trailed them in two motorcycles and we knew the man’s house at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City.
“I did not tell Auta Umaru and Murtala Usman that the job was given to me by David. I only told Moses and Danjuma but did not tell them the name of David. The telephone David used in calling me is of Etisalat network, I cannot remember the number, I stored the number but after my telephone got lost and I did welcome back, the number disappeared. My telephone line, which got lost is 08037171096. I can always identify and recognize David if I see him”.
Maisamari, who described what happened as an armed robbery operation, said, “The man that we killed at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City, I do not know his name, I do not know where he works. David also uses MTN and GLO numbers to call me at times. Before the operation was carried out, on 3rd May I held a meeting with Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman, Moses Asamah Okoro and Auta Umaru at Owina Junction, where I explained to all of them that the job was brought by someone, who promised to pay N20 million if the man was killed. I did not tell them his name.”
23–year old Danjuma Musa, who hails from Kamba in Kamba Local Government Area of Kebbi State, admitted he went for the operation, but did not mention anything about David Ugolor.
His words: ”We are members of one armed robbery gang, but Garba Usman Maisamari and Umaru Adamu do not follow us for operations, but we plan together. I wish to also state that the man who we robbed his house at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City was trailed two times to enable us know his house. On the first time, I cannot remember the date, Garba Usaman Maisamari called me and Moses Auchi on telephone to come to Ring Road.
“When we came, he pointed the man to us who was in a black Toyota car with one other person. The vehicle (windscreen) is slightly tinted. As the man moved, we trailed him to 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City and he entered his house. The house is along a major road and it is a bungalow. The second day, we trailed him, it was still Garba Usman Maisamari who called me on phone and I called Moses Auchi and we all met at Lagos Street by Ring Road”.
Thirty-two-year-old Moses Asamah Okoro, a native of Iguode in Agenebode, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, who was arrested in the house of his girlfriend, said, in his statement, dated July 11, “Maisamari told me there is a job which one man brought to be executed in GRA. He also said that if we are able to kill the man, the man who brought the job will give us N20 million. I told him I would want to meet the man who brought the job but he refused and told me that the job was given to him and I should trust him. “.
On the killing of Oyerinde, he said, “I pointed my gun to shoot the man but my gun did not answer. As soon as the man noticed that the gun was not effective, he wanted to rush me but I rushed out to the parlour and informed Muritala Usman that my gun was not working and he, Muritala Usman, jumped into the room and shot the man once, while Auta Umaru shot twice from the window.
“As soon as the man fell, we quickly left the house with the items we stole, including the single barrel gun, which Muritala Usman collected from the man’s bedroom. The operation did not last more than one hour. When we finished the operation, we all went to Auta Umaru’s house and Danjuma Musa called Garba Usman Maisamari, informing him that the operation was over.”
Auta Umaru Ali, 26, a native of Gumi in Gumi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, told the police that “Our gang of four, namely myself, Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman and Moses Auchi, has been selling stolen gold sets and other items to Garba Usman Maisamari at Ring Road Market, Benin City. The items we sold to him on 4th May, 2012, it was not our first time. Our gang had also been robbing along Auchi-Benin Expressway, Benin-Lagos Expressway, Adesuwa Road, Mission Road and the loot we always sold to Garba Maisamari.
“During the armed robbery operation of 4th May, 2012 at 2nd Ugbor Road, Benin City, we went with two locally made guns, but I stayed by the window. Moses Auchi was the person that fired the man. The motive of the operation was to steal money, jewelries and telephones. I am not aware whether any person hired Moses Auchi or Garba Usman Maisamari to kill the man.
“I wish to also state that on 04/05/2012 when myself, Moses Asamah Okoro, Muritala Usman and Danjuma Musa went for the armed robbery operation at 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City, I was the person who stood by the bedroom window and I was armed with a locally made gun given to me by Muritala Usman. The gun is not too long and it is a single barrel gun. I saw somebody lying down on the bed in the bedroom but I do not know who he was. It was Moses, Auchi Boy and Murtitala Usman that entered the parlour and bedroom. I fired two rounds from the window into the house but I did not see anybody when I fired. Moses Auchi also fired one round. I did not see the owner of the house struggle with Auchi Boy during the operation.
“The gun that police investigators showed me, a cut to size single barrel locally made gun, is the gun I carried on the 4th of May, 2012 during the operation at the 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA, Benin City. I fired in order to scare the man. I did not intend to kill him. Nobody told me or paid me to kill the man, I followed my gang for the robbery so that I can get some money after the operation.”