*How cousin allegedly arranged SSG’s son’s abduction

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

The abduction of Mackson Macaulay, son of Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Delta State, Mr. Ovuozorie Macaulay, in 2012, was allegedly organized by his (SSG) relation. This information came to light after the killing, March 27, of two kidnap suspects by gunmen, who attacked a police patrol team conveying them to court, along Oboh-Ogwashi-Uku Road. Two defence counsel in the main case were also killed on the same day.

*Cloudy affair
WHEN Justice O.A. Onojovwo  of the Delta State High Court, sitting in Ozoro,  April 2, transferred the case of the kidnapping of Mr. Mackson Macaulay, son of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Ovuozorie Macaulay, before his court to the Chief Judge of the state for re-assignment to another judge, it was clear that there was something wrong.

Six days earlier, March 27, two lawyers, Horace Ewgonor Dafiaghor and Samuel Ekuwangji, defence attorneys to two  suspects, Sunday Ugbebo and another, charged before his court by the police for the 2012 kidnapping of Mackson, were murdered in Isoko South Local Government Area.

The lawyers had been taken by their killers on the Ughelli-Isoko Road on their way to the court in Ozoro and taken  to the Olomoro Shell Location Road, where they were brought out of the vehicle and killed.

Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP O. Agbede, also confirmed to the judge, April 2, that two other kidnap suspects, Efe Edhike and Ogaga Enueme, one of whom  the lawyers had filed a habeas corpus suit for his release, met their untimely death on March 27.

Agbede said that Edhike and Enueme were to be arraigned, same day, at a Magistrate Court in Oleh, seemingly on a holding charge, in connection with Mackson’s kidnap when gunmen waylaid the police patrol van  conveying them to court at Oboh-Ogwashi-Uku Road and engaged the police in a shoot out. The two suspects died while a police sergeant, Suleiman Ahabi, was seriously injured. The police vehicle was riddled with bullets.

Apparently because of the manner the lawyer, Dafiaghor, who  had complained to the judge severally in open court that his life was under threat, and his colleague were killed, and the death of Enume, who was also to appear in court, April 2, following the court’s order to that effect,  Justice Onojovwo snapped. He struck out the case.

The judge remarked that the case had turned a bloody one and anybody handling the matter, including him, was not safe. Expectedly, the murder of  the two lawyers has raised more questions than answers.

*NBA points fingers
The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Warri, which held a four-hour protest procession, penultimate Tuesday, in Warri over the murder, accused the police of complicity.

Branch chairman, Ben Oji, reacting to the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, said the police account of the death of Enueme, one of the suspects in respect of whom the murdered lawyers filed application, was suspicious.

“The police account is that he was being taken to court with another suspect when they were ambushed  by armed men who engaged them in a shootout which left one of the suspects dead. From the facts, we see a clear direct connection between the two incidents, especially as they occurred same day. It is no coincidence,” Oji said.

“Incidentally, when two of our colleagues were killed, the bodies, we understood, were discovered by policemen guarding the location. So, we can say that the bodies were discovered. But in the case of the suspect, he died in police custody, so the policemen should tell us what happened.

“If we are convinced as we are that the two incidents are related, then tackling the killing of the suspects will, in a way, involve unraveling the murder of our colleagues. So, the police cannot at this stage where, to my mind, possibilities are still on board, come out to absolve self of blame. Let them go and conduct investigation first.”

*Police declare 5 wanted
Delta State Police Command, which, penultimate Tuesday, declared five suspected kidnappers/armed robbers: Chucks, Obeji, Kelvin, Kaya Morgan and Shakara, wanted over the death of the lawyers, wondered what they were doing defending suspected kidnappers when the NBA in the state had earlier taken a decision that its members should steer clear of kidnap cases.

According to Aduba, the state Police Commissioner, “Delta  State branch of  the NBA had taken a resolution persuading lawyers from the state branch to steer clear of cases of kidnapping, bearing in mind the saying that he who rides on the back of the tiger may end up in the tiger’s belly”.

He said the assassinated lawyers were defence counsel to some of the arrested members of the alleged kidnap gang, currently undergoing trial and whose colleagues had been declared wanted.

Dismissing alleged complicity of law enforcement agents, Aduba said the police legal team joined issues with the defence counsel on the habeas corpus application, which the court ruled on.

*Puzzling development
From Sunday Vanguard investigation, it was discovered that the other kidnap suspect, Edhike,  killed with Enueme, March 27, is a family member to the Delta  SSG, Mr. Macaulay.

It was learnt that Enueme, who allegedly confessed his involvement in the kidnap of Mackson, was arrested by the police, while the trial of Sunday Ugbebo and another for the offence was still pending before Justice Onojovwo.

He was said to have owned up in police custody and named Edhike, a  cousin to Macaulay, as the mastermind of Mackson’s kidnap.

Enueme reportedly told the police that their earlier plan was to rob one Victor of the money that was handed over to him to pay for some agricultural products, but Edhike changed the plan when he found out that Mackson was in the village to visit his grandmother. Edhike, who, as learnt, was supposed to be with Victor at the time of the planned robbery, was to pretend that he knew nothing about it.

On the strength of Enueme’s purported confession, Edhike was arrested in February, and he allegedly opened up. He and Enueme were being taken to the court by the police when they were waylaid.

A security source narrated how Enueme was arrested: “He was observed to be in the habit of going out to make phone calls whenever the case of Sunday Ugbebo and another was on. Detectives, who had been monitoring him, followed him outside the court and confronted him on one of the occasions. That led to his arrest. The arrest paid off, as we believe he is a gang member.

“The lawyer argued in his application that his client was arrested in the court premises; that is not true.”

It was gathered that Edhike and Enueme had made startling revelations to the police on the gang, while the lawyers in the course of their brief, also stumbled on some secret information.

The main case, which is the State vs Sunday Ugbebo and another is what Justice Onojovwo transferred to the chief judge for reassignment to another judge.

The judge had, in his ruling on the habeas corpus case, ordered that the suspects should be brought to court on April 2 and it was on confirmation that the two suspects and lawyers were killed same day that he washed his hands off the case.

Aduba, the state Police Commissioner, confirmed that Edhike was a relation of the SSG.  Mr. Macaulay also admitted to Sunday Vanguard that his relation was arrested over his son’s kidnap in February.

*Questions
The March 27 murder has led to several posers: Has it anything to do with the threat Dafiaghor complained to the judge of  or did the gang snuff life out of the foursome because it wanted  its secrets covered? If Victor Macaulay is the same Victor that Edhike arranged with his gang to rob, is his concern merely that Dafiaghor should not use technicality to get him (Edhike) out? What were the lawyers doing on the lonely road where they were found dead? Were they tricked or forced there and thereafter killed?

As  things are, nobody has on the spot answers to the questions. However,  Aduba told Sunday Vanguard, “At the conclusion of the ongoing investigations, some of the questions will be  answered. There and then, we may conveniently draw up a conclusion.”

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