By IFEANYI OKOLIE & Uju Mbanusi
•Fingers point at popular auto-dealer in Lagos
•Family wants transfer of investigation from Festac police
IF those that wanted to snuff life out of the philanthropic and amiable popular transporter and Chairman of Young Shall Grow Motors, Chief Vincent Obianodo, had succeeded, his last words on earth could have been the wild exclamation which he uttered as soon as the hoodlums started firing volleys of bullets into his car, penultimate Tuesday.
Sources said the armed police Inspector who was in front of the vehicle he was driving, a Lexus SUV, revealed that as soon as the gun-totting hoodlums blocked the Chief’s car with theirs and started pumping bullets into it, bewildered Chief Obianodo who was earlier trying to deem his vehicle light for them to have easy passage exclaimed loudly in Igbo language; ‘Dike Anaaaaa’ (The great man is gone).
Sources said that after he was hit on the left shoulder, the transport magnet laid flat on the steering wheel as bullets were flying left, right and centre. That cry seemed to have spurred an Inspector of Police, Simon Ogbueshi, who was sitting in front of his vehicle to action as he quickly reacted by releasing volleys of bullets from his own weapon towards their attackers.
A police source said the Inspector of Police is attached to B.OPs, Patrol and Guard at the Lagos State Police command, Ikeja and has been working with Chief Obianodo for two years, as a guard. The source who described the action of the Inspector as ‘the only saving grace ‘ said as soon as the bandits blocked Chief’s car with theirs, they came out firing towards the two cars in the convoy.
According to him, “That exclamation from the chief moved the police Inspector and he quickly used his body to act as a protective shield against that of Chief Obianodo. The source said Ogbueshi took that risk because he could not think of allowing the transporter to be killed like a chicken. That was why he covered the chief who had already collapsed on the steering after he was hit by bullets, and subsequently the Inspector engaged the hoodlums in serious exchange of fire. After sometime, he pretended as if he was dead and just laid on top of the chief.
“At that stage, one of the attackers came out from their vehicle and approached that of chief with a view to finishing what they started, not knowing that the Inspector was closing in on him. As soon as he approached their car, the gallant Inspector released several shots into his large frame and he laid dead, clutching his AK 49 fully loaded gun. His gang members however, tried to sustain the firing and at that stage, the Inspector devised a new strategy. He tried to quickly slip out of the car, aim at their driver and demobilize their vehicle. Unfortunately, as he was discreetly stepping out of the car, his legs slipped and he fell into a ditch.
“The ditch is so deep that it swallowed both the Inspector and his gun. While inside the ditch, he was still making frantic efforts to accomplish his mission while the attackers concentrated on firing at both the Chief’s car and his back up pick up security van occupied by two other policemen and Chief’s driver. Unfortunately, they succeeded in killing the police constable in the backup car and the driver before the Inspector managed and raised himself from the ditch and also released another round of bullets into their vehicle thereby shattering the back windscreen.
That was when the attackers quickly jumped into their car and sped off. It is believed that some of them must have been badly injured after the exchange of fire and could not have gone far if the chief’s security aids had received back up from the police.
“The Police from Festac division only approached the scene of the shooting after they saw the Inspector in uniform coming out from the ditch. They were then showed two of the attackers who were gunned down with their heavily loaded weapons. Six loaded magazines were seen inside the bag of the first dead suspect.
“Interestingly, while policemen were still going through the contents of his bag, his phone started ringing stridently. It was also recovered by the police. The brave Inspector who has served the force in different states of the federation for over 32 years is from Udenu L.G.A in Enugu State and is married with two children. Luckily, he had only a sprain on the leg after the deadly encounter.”
Investigations carried out by Crime Alert revealed that the first attacker that was gunned down is a popular auto dealer at Amuwo odofin area of Lagos State and is reputed to be seen frequently in police circles in the area. A source that refused to be named said also that the motive for trying to assassinate Chief Obianodo may not be far from recent clash between a popular night club owner in the area and the Police in Festac.
The transport magnate was reportedly said to have intervened on behalf of the young Club owner making it impossible for him to be intimidated or run out of his business. This, the source continued, may not have gone well with some people, hence the attempt on his life.
Close associates of the wounded Chief intimated Crime Alert that he was flown out of the country last Monday in an air ambulance to USA. The Chief was reported to have asked his aids after he recovered from the shock in a private hospital in Apapa, “why did they want to kill a man like me that is feeding not less than 10,000.00 Nigerians? Would they be able to feed all these people?” The associates also disclosed that a top Oba in Lagos State presently holidaying in London, played positive role in flying Chief Obianodo out of the country for better medical attention.
Restoration of sanity
They also said that the traditional ruler was shocked when he learnt of the ignoble role played by the police in Festac, both during and after the incident, and promised to take it up with police authorities in order to restore sanity in the area.
According to one of his associates, “we pleaded passionately with the respected Oba to help us and transfer the case out from Festac because we have no confidence in getting justice there.
We know that the commissioner of Police is a no-nonsense officer and he is not aware of the goings on in Festac police area, so we pleaded with the Oba to intervene on our behalf and we know that CP Manko, going by his track records, must crack this case in no distant time, if taken out from Festac.”
Meanwhile, Crime Alert gathered from Police sources that Lagos State Police boss, Umaru Manko has given the police in Festac matching orders to round up perpetrators of the act or face sanctions.
A similar but different ball game in Enugu
In March 2, 2013, a similar scenario played out in the coal city of Enugu after which the visiting Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, Mr. Chinwike Asadu was brutally mowed down..
The approach of his attackers was significantly similar to that of those that attempted to kill Chief Obianodo last week in Lagos.
Late Cp Asadu was on the wheel together with three armed police officers. He was approaching his residence when the gun-totting hoodlums blocked his car with theirs, approached and dragged him out of the car before noticing that the policeman at the back of the car was carrying an AK47 rifle.
Infuriated by the sight of danger, they subsequently opened fire thereby killing the Cp instantly before spraying bullet shots at the armed policemen at the back of the car. His guards miraculously survived the attack after sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
The only difference however, is that while the security aide with the CP waited for the attackers to wreak havoc before attempting to save his own life in spite of his vantage position, that of Chief Obianodo, Inspector Simon Ogbueshi, exhibited exceptional bravery by, not only protecting his boss with his frame, but reacted sharply and shot dead, one of the attackers that was approaching, armed with an AK49, to finish the job of killing his boss.