By Innocent Anaba
A former security guard to the late NADECO chieftain, Mr. Alfred Rewane, Lucky Igbinovia and his (Rewaneâ€™s) driver, Elvis Irenuna, yesterday narrated to a Lagos High Court how he was killed in October 1995.
Igbinovia, Effiong Elemi and Irenuna are standing trial over their alleged involvement in the murder ofÂ Rewane and they are the three alive of the eight that were arrested on October 6, 1995, after the murder of the late elder statesman.
Ola Obanuso, Sylvester Iyabele, Sunday Ogbeide, Akeem Alli and Sunday Obanobi have all died in detention
Yesterday’s proceeding was ordered by the court to determine the genuineness of the confessional statements obtained from the accused persons, who insisted that they were tortured by the police into making the statements, in which they implicated themselves in the murder of Rewane.
At the resumed hearing of the trial-within-trial, Irenuna told the court, when led in evidence by their counsel, Moses Odiri, that he was employed as an â€˜office boyâ€™ but later became a driver to Rewane.
He added that in October 1995, Rewane sent him a message that he will be having an important meeting and directed him to report at his (Rewane’s) house.
He said he reported at Rewaneâ€™s 100, Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos residence about 7.30 a.m. and was writing a note to the Administrative Manager as instructed by Rewane when he suddenly heard noise from the sitting room.
According to him, â€œupon investigation, I saw three men arguing with the steward and later discovered that they had an envelope for Pa Rewane and they insisted that it must be handed over to him (Pa Rewane) personallyâ€.
He further said, â€œone of the intruders pointed a gun at my head, as they raided the whole house and locked us up, including Pa Rewaneâ€™s wife in a room.
“They left us in the room, but shortly after, we heard gun shots and the intruder drove off. We later went to Pa Rewaneâ€™s room and saw him soaked in his own blood.
“We rushed him to the hospital and I informed Chief Anthony Enahoro about the incident because he was to attend a meeting with Pa Rewane,” he added.
He told the court that the doctor later informed them that Rewane died before he could reach the hospital, as the bullet penetrated through his heart and that he had no chance of surviving..
On the confessional statement allegedly made by them, he told the court that he was beaten up and forced to sign a confessional statement written by the police.
â€œI did not make any confessional statement to the police. When we were taken to Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), one Simeon Igbinogbere, a Superintendent of Police, Inspector Oloye and ASP Zakari Biu said I should cooperate with them, that other suspects have confessed already.
When I refused, I was asked to be taken to the â€˜theatreâ€™ where they tripped me naked and tied my legs and hands backwards and suspended me on a Peugeot 504 propeller and began to hit me several times. My lord, the pain was terrible and I began to cry. Yet I refused to sign the prepared confessional statement but when they threatened to shoot me, I got scared and signed itâ€, he said.
Irenuna told the court that immediately he signed the said statement, he told everybody in the cell that he was forced to sign a statement he did not know its content.
According to him, Zakari Biu later told him that he was aware that he had been telling people that he was forced to sign a statement he did not write.
He said, â€œhe asked me to copy the statement in my own handwriting and when I refused, he took the 2nd accused person (Effiong Elemi) away and when he was brought back, I saw blood dripping out of his ear.
“ASP Biu instructed one Inspector Adebayo and Simeon Igbinogbere to do the same to me. I was scared and because I did not want to be tortured again, I copied the statement as directedâ€.
In his testimony, the first accused, Igbinovia, told the court that he was at the gate when a Peugeot 505 salon car with Life Flour Mills sticker with five men inside drove to the gate.
He said they showed him an envelope which they said must be handed over to Rewane personally.
He said he allowed them into the company because the sticker on the car indicated that they were from a company belonging to Rewane.
He told the court how he was tortured to sign a confessional statement allegedly prepared by the police.
Meanwhile, trial judge, Justice Olusola Williams, has adjourned further hearing in the matter till July 24.