…As AG orders prosecution of killer policemen
…Says fresh evidence indicts them
By Evelyn Usman
One of the most trending videos on social media two months ago, was that of the open execution of two youths: Ogheneovo Ebobo, 36, and 29-year-old Ayodele Solaja, a serving National Youth Service Corp ,NYSC member, by some policemen attached to Iba division.
In the video, the policemen were seen conveying the youths who were alleged to be members of a robbery gang that had been terrorizing Ipaye area of the state, to the station, in a Lagos State painted coloured commercial bus, but stopped half way.
The video revealed how the suspects were ordered to come out of the vehicle. After much hesitation, one of the policemen was seen dragging them out. Thereafter, another policeman, ordered his colleague inside the commercial bus to move away from the bus before he fired some shots at the suspects, killing them on the spot.
A visibly angry Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Zubairu Muazu immediately ordered the arrest of the police team when the video reached the command. Consequently, four of them: Inspector Fabiyi Omomuyiwa, Sergeant Olaniyi Solomon, Sergeant Solomon Sunday and Corporal Aliyu Mukaila, were arrested with two others still at large.
Thereafter, they were subjected to an internal disciplinary proceeding at the Provost Department of the command, where they were found guilty on three counts bordering on discreditable conduct; unlawful and unnecessary exercise of authority and damage to article.
They were subsequently dismissed from the police force and handed over to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba, for prosecution in a conventional court.
The erring cops were arraigned at the Magistrate Court 5 Ebute Metta, for conspiracy and murder, from where they were remanded at the Ikoyi prison, pending a legal advice from the Directorate of Public Persecution, DPP
There is however a twist in the whole drama, as parents of the slain youths alleged that the killers of their children were roaming the streets freely, rather than being made to pay for their sins. It was gathered that the policemen were released because the legal advice from the DPP exonerated them from the killing which stated that late Ogheneovo and Ayodele were killed during a shoot-out with the Police.
The DPP’s advice which was contained in a letter signed by Dr Babajide Martins, to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-Charge of the SCIID, dated September 10, 2019, said, “after carefully considering the facts in the duplicate case file, this office is of the opinion that there are insufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of murder or involuntary manslaughter contrary to sections 222 punishable under 223 or 224 (b) and punishable under section 229 of the Criminal Law Cap C17, Vol 3 Laws of Lagos State 2015, against pages B1(Insp. Fabiyi Omomayowa), B2 (Sgt.Olaniyi Solomon), B3 (Sgt Solomon Sunday) and B4 (Cpl.Aliyu Mukaila).
“Facts contained in the case file reveal that page A4 (Anagwu Valentine) was robbed of a Max iPhone and the sum of N200,000 by four armed men on the 16th day of August 2019, at Ipaye street, Iba town Lagos.
“Page A4 (Anagwu Valentine) and page A5 (Ifeanyi Micheal) reported the robbery incident to the police at Iba police station which led to the police surveillance by the police patrol team of Pages B1(Fabiyi Omomayowa), B2 (Sgt. Olaniyi Solomon), B3 ( Sgt. Solomon Sunday) and B4 ( Cpl. Aliyu Mukaila)”.
Pages A4 and A5 pretended to sell another phone to the gang of robbers on the 19th day of August and while at the scene of crime trying to arrest a gang of armed robbers same day at Ipaye street, Iba, Lagos, shot the two suspects and took them to the station where they eventually died and taken to the morgue”.
The letter further read: “The suspects all stated that there was cross fire between the robbers and the Police Patrol team . They stated that it was during the shoot-out that the two robbers sustained gun shot injuries. The Station Armourer, Oyeyipo Micheal stated that Aliyu Mukaila returned his riffle and 25 live ammunition he collected while on patrol.
Page B1 (Insp Fabiyi ) acted in self defense and there is excuse to justify his action as all the suspects stated that it was the deceased robbers that first shot at the patrol team. Insp Fabiyi had no intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm based on the totality of the facts disclosed in the duplicate case file.
In the light of the foregoing, this office is of the considered opinion that Insp Fabiyi Omomayowa, Sgt. Olaniyi Solomon, Sgt. Solomon Sunday and Cpl. Aliyu Mukaila have no case to answer “.
But families of the deceased, who could not hide their consternation over DPP”s position, described it as an unjust and disheartening legal advice, alleging that there were moves to sweep the case under the carpet.
In a petition to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, they described the DPP’s position as a sordid arrangement that insulted the intelligence of all right thinking Nigerians.
Expressing their disappointment at a press briefing, counsel to both families, Barrister Adeshina Ogunlana said, “we consider the exculpation of the killers in police uniform by the Police and the DPP as not only hasty but untidy. The disturbing legal advice in our humble view is a complete disregard of the onerous responsibilities of the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice under which the DPP operates, to protect and promote the rights of all souls in the jurisdiction of Lagos State.
“We ask the following questions: Can the office of the DPP claim ignorance of the video of the daylight execution of the two victims by these police killers that was all over the social media in August and September 2019, as to arrive at its present exculpatory advice? In the said footage, the two victims were deliberately and clearly executed in cold blood after being apprehended safely by their police killers, who declared loudly that ‘we don’t waste time ‘and this was followed by point blank shooting of their captured victims.
“Can the office of the DPP claim ignorance of the widely disseminated report of the dismissal of the four defendants from the Nigeria Police after an orderly room trial for their misconduct of executing Segun Solaja and Ogheneovo Ebobo extra judicially, wherein the defendants were found complicit of the crime of murder and consequently charged to court?
“Why did the DPP fail to interrogate the facts therein, juxtapose same with the “facts “contained in the case file on this matter sent to her by the same police? Why did the police, in the light of the case file, arrive at the decision upon the orderly room trial to find the defendants culpable of extra judicial killing, if indeed the facts of the content of the case file are not true and real?
“Why did the office of the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command maintain consistently all through that their officers went beyond the lawful in the handling of the case of the deceased Segun Solaja Ogheveovo Ebobo? The clear position of the PPRO was that the policemen were dismissed because after safely apprehending the deceased duo of Segun Solaja and Ogheneovo Ebobo and putting them in custody, they went beyond their brief as law enforcement agents by executing them in cold blood.
“On behalf of our clients, we reject the aforesaid legal advice in question in its entirely as a DPP-Police arrangement that does not reflect the true state of affairs. This is a clear case of murder. We call for an immediate re-investigation of this matter”.
Deceased’s fianceé loses pregnancy
Meanwhile, information at Crime Guard’s disposal has it that late Ogheneovo’s pregnant fiancée has lost the pregnancy due to the emotional and psychological effect of the tragedy on her.
The lady who would not want her name in print had told Crime Guard in an earlier chat that they were already preparing for their wedding when the unexpected occurred. She had said that the death of her fiancé was too devastating for her to bear. As at Monday, she was still indisposed.
Fresh evidence indicts police officers——AG
However, in what could be described as swift response, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice has said fresh evidence which came to light has necessitated the prosecution of the police officers for murder. A statement to this effect issued by the Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Mr Kayode Oyekanmi, said, “In the course of investigation initiated by the Office of the Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, fresh evidence came to light indicting the concerned police officers.
“This has necessitated a review of the earlier legal opinion issued, and the Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice has directed that the suspects be charged for the killing of the deceased persons. He further assured the general public of the resolve of his office to uphold the Rule of Law in the State”.