Probe! Probe deeper!Investigate! Investigate thoroughly!These are words Nigeria’s intelligence and security agencies are very familiar with.
And they, from time to time, do their best.
With technology, the manual, laborious endeavour of traditional forensic investigation has now been consigned to the realm of history.
But technology alone does not make a good forensic investigation..
If you’re in doubt, ask Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
He will tell you that the brouhaha between the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, and the Department of State Service, DSS, over the real killers of Olaitan Oyerinde, his Principal Private Secretary, is a classic example of how fog can be introduced into an investigation.
In December, Sunday Vanguard published, exclusively, the Police Report of the investigation into the murder. And, last week, having taken possession of the DSS Report of the investigation into the same matter, coming up with a totally different conclusion, Sunday Vanguard began a cross-referencing of the two reports, trying to make sense of both.
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 the DSS had earlier paraded, to be released to them.
Curiously, for the same offence, on its part, the police found that four persons, to wit: Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman, Auta Umaru Ali and Moses Asamah Okoro, were those 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. The constant thing in all of this is that Oyerinde was killed.
To unravel this, Nigerians need help. And those who should help, unfortunately, have decided to add fog.
The first confusion is over which set of criminals actually killed Oyerinde? But there is a second problem and that is where the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice comes in. The man who oversees that office is one Mohammed Adoke, SAN, a smart, intelligent lawyer.
Unlike some of his predecessors, he rarely talks. But there is a world of difference between being smart and intelligent on the one hand, and being decidedly thorough, on the other. The NPF sent the casefile to the federal Attorney General’s office instead of the Edo State Ministry of Justice.
At the public hearing by the House of Representatives, penultimate week, one Mr. Olatigbe, standing in for Adoke, said the Justice Ministry was confused – as it should be, regarding which set of criminals to prosecute. Within hours, Adoke sprang to his feet, issued a statement, declaring that his ministry was not confused.
He should know. He is the minister. And to bring physicality to all of this, last Tuesday, Oshiomhole accosted Adoke inside the chambers of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, to demand justice. The latter responded that Oshiomhole’s Attorney General was ignorant of the law. The chambers almost became a boxing ring. That is where the matter is – as of now.
But in the United States of America, there was a certain Judge John Sirica. When, in 1972, the five who stormed the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., were brought before Sirica, he saw through what appeared like a cover-up.
Applying good sense, he deciphered that Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis, who were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications, may have had backers. He was right.
The backers went as far as the Office of the President of the United States of America, at that time led by Richard Nixon. The conspirators included but were not limited to a former Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, agent, some staff of the White House; and it led to the resignation of Nixon when imminent impeachment stared him in the face. Sirica provided assistance to the prosecutors who were able to do a thorough job. In January 1973, Sirica passed judg
ment on the five burglars. That was in America in the 1970s.
Rather than allow himself become the butt of jokes and gossips in high places, Adoke can bring the full weight of his office to bear on the need why the NPF and the DSS should please explain to Nigerians why two sets of criminals are in detention for the same offence.
It is one responsibility that Adoke would not need an Oshionhole to keep haranguing him. If this fog is not cleared, it can be expected that Oshiomhole would still cause another scene when next the National Council of State meeting is called.
It is only in Nigeria that two sets of criminals would be arrested for the same crime. Mind you, the five burglars arrested at the Watergate Complex lamely admitted guilt in a rather suspicious manner. And whereas those in Nixon’s White House attempted to pull wool, by alleging that the burglary and wiretaps were with a view to establishing the veracity of the claims in some quarters that communist funds may be finding its way into the American system through the Democratic Party, such a claim could not vitiate the folly of the commission of the crime.
For the sake of Oyerinde’s ghost, there should be a closure to this ridiculous phase of a long journey towards unraveling the true killers of Oyerinde. By May 4, this year, it would be a year since the murder was committed; and to think clearing the fog regarding which set of criminals in custody actually committed the crimes is just the beginning of the process. Once the fog is cleared, may be Oyerinde’s ghost can then rest pretty.
What the DSS suspects said
Referring to Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi (alleged ring leader), the report said, “He is the leader of the four-man gang that robbed and killed Oyerinde. He admitted to have shot the deceased through his bedroom window. Also he took Service operatives to where he hid the three (3) guns used for the operation that were recovered.”
“The suspect further averred that the guns were supplied him by Saidu Yakubu, aka Imam, one of the suspects, an assertion that the latter denied.
“He further disclosed that he got information about the deceased from his gateman who had unwittingly talked about the affluence of his boss at several fora. However, he maintained that his shooting was not intended to kill him”.
This report said Edeh Chikezie is the next in command to Abdullahi. It stated, “He(Chikezie) admitted that the three guns used for the operation belong to the gang leader, Abdullahi. He affirmed that Abdullahi shot dead Oyerinde through the bedroom window when the deceased ran into the bedroom and locked the door. Chikezie further confessed that he got one GSM phone out of the five phones they collected from the victim’s residence, which he later sold to Saidu.
“Raymond Onajite Origboe also admitted he was part of the four-man armed robbery gang that robbed and killed Oyerinde. He said they were led in the operation by Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi who also provided the three guns used during the operation. He noted that Abdullahi shot dead the owner of the house and stressed that his share from the robbery operation was N6,000 and a blackberry phone.”
There exists a rivalry between the police and DSS at local,state and national levels and this is affecting security efforts. As the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice pointed out, the power to investigate and prosecute criminal cases is vested on the police constitutionally, but the DSS is known to be investigating and prosecuting criminal cases. However, what is required in cases where the police and DSS are involved should be synergy between both agencies.
In the kidnapping of Prof Kamene Okonjo, mother of Minister of Finance, Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, the police and DSS in Delta State reportedly worked at cross-purposes.
However, in the Oyerinde murder, both showed signs of animosity early in the day. After the death of the aide to the Edo governor, May 4, 2012, the Inspector General of Police ordered full-scale investigations into the incident. The DSS arrested and interrogated six suspects in connection with the matter, but did not alert the police until they were paraded before reporters.
The IGP was informed of the development by the DSS, in a letter with reference number DGSS.71/3022, dated August 1, 2012 and requested to keep the suspects for prosecution. The IGP, in his reply, under reference number CR:3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/VOL/T1/14, dated August 14, 2012, sought the transfer of the seven suspects to the police, categorized as three murder suspects and four stolen good purchasers.
The DSS did not transfer the case files and statements of the suspects to the police. And it was as if the Service was reluctantly handing over the suspects.
When it paraded six suspects in its custody, DSS did not show the seventh suspect, 26-year-old Abubakar Lawal, a Kano resident, who police detectives tracked through technological maneuver to be using the stolen telephone hardware of Mrs. Funke Oyerinde, wife of the deceased in phone numbers, 08036555537 and 0809898239.
According to the police, detectives on June 19, 2012, raided the house of Abubakar Lawal in Rejiyer/Remo Police Division, but were told that the suspect was arrested since May 31, 2012 and over to DSS, Kano on instructions of the Commissioner of Police, Kano.
Complaining of DSS disobliging attitude, the police report noted, “Efforts to have access to him (Abubakar Lawal) have proved unsuccessful despite a formal letter of requests to the State Security Service, Edo state.
“It said police burst through on the matter after DSS’s negative response came when service provider information on June 19, 2012 revealed that telephone numbers, 07037448616, 07053914404 and 08039712838, had variously used the same hardware since it was stolen. The first two phone numbers belong to Mohammed Baba Yelwa of Wuro Hausa Girei II in Adamawa, while the last belonged to Abubakar Raji of Girei as well.
Following the unearthing, detectives arrived Yola , Adamawa state on June 22, 2012 and through diligent surveillance, arrested Mohammed and “through him, recovered the deceased’s phone handset, ‘Blackberry Bold’ in the house of Raji, which has been positively identified”.
The report said the take into custody stimulated other arrests, including Hassan Babete Aliyu, 41 years, resident at Eyean village, Aduwawa on June 26, who admitted under interrogation that he was a receiver of stolen property, especially telephone handsets, which were supplied him by Garba Usman Maisamari, Umaru Adamu (Highest) and Sani (surname) unknown, all resident in Benin City.
He particularly identified Garba Usman Maisamari as the person who sold the deceased’s Blackberry Bold phone to him with other telephone handsets.
“The interrogation of Hassan Babete Aliyu further disclosed the presence of two suspects in police custody who seemed to have extensive knowledge of Garba Usman Maisamari. Consequently, the duo of Danjuma Musa and Muritala Usman, who have been in Edo Command custody for unlawful possession of cartridges since 24/05/2012 were taken over by Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad operatives for further interrogation,” the report said.
DCP Ezike noted this, in his letter, dated August 24 to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, “D” Department (FCID) when he wrote, “Also transferred along with the suspects was a list of improperly categorized exhibits , which we refused to sign for because of wrong nomenclature and classification- a fact that was also acknowledged by the Assistant Director (Internal Security), Mr. Dauda Abulganu, who led the team. It was now agreed that DSS should do the needful and return the appropriate list today for signature”.
He commented further: “It was immediately observed that instead of the six suspects paraded by the Service, seven suspects were transferred to the police. Interestingly, the seventh suspect is Abubakar Lawal, who was traced to Kano but was reported to have been arrested by the police and handed over to the Service.
“Secondly, the Department of State Service did not transfer any enabling case file(s), statements, documents, especially search warrants with which recoveries were made, except a skeletal brief on the suspects as contained in the attached document”.
In a briefing presented to the House Committee at the public hearing, the police restated, “The Department of State Service did not transfer any investigation report-be it interim, preliminary or final-to the police.
“The Department of State Service did not handover any complainant, witness or suspects statements; enabling documents like search warrants or attestation by investigating officers to the police.
“None of the exhibits transferred by the Department of State Service to the police related to any of the items stolen from the late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde’s house. One of the victims, Adeyinka Oletubo, confirmed this position after viewing the items.
“The police wrote to the Department of State Service requesting for information/interface which may lead to successful investigation but no response.
“Police had no choice than to perform its statutory responsibility of criminal investigation hence a full investigation.”
The police and DSS were clearly at loggerheads at the public hearing and anybody who was present would have noticed there was no love lost between the two security agencies. DSS boss, Ekpeyong, DIG Gana and DCP Ezike displayed overt enmity.
However, a source said, “The DSS is skeptical about the police and it is for a good reason. They carried out a scientific investigation and traced the killers, but you can see the police presenting another set of killers.”
Police counter DSS
Faulting the claim of scientific investigation by DSS, the police stated, “The three persons identified by the Department of State Service as the suspects who murdered the late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, namely Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi, Raymond Onajite Origbo and Edeh Chikezie, were variously interrogated.
“They admitted being armed robbers who usually operated as a gang of six made up of themselves, one Sani, one Ali alias Smally and one Ishiaka –the last three still at large. They also admitted to various armed robbery escapades in Benin City promising to take the police to the locations but denied any involvement in the armed robbery of May 4, 2012 at No. 65, 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA Benin City at the house of the late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde.
“They also admitted that, in their operations, they were usually armed with three cut to size single barrel guns provided by Ishiaka- a Fulani nomad who is a member of the gang. Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi posited that when his house was searched, only one hammer, one matchet and two kitchen knives were recovered by Department of State Service operatives and denied knowledge of 1 No Europa Magnum Pump Action gun and 2Nos Russian Double Barrel guns said to have been recovered from him.
“The suspects claimed that they were never taken to the scene of crime and that the late Comrade Olaitan’s house was shown to them from a Blackberry telephone by their interrogators”.
The 10 inconsistencies of the police, by CONGOS
CONGOS raised 10 inconsistencies in the police investigations into the murder of Oyerinde. They are:
*How could armed robbers arrested on 24/4/2012, who are still in police custody, be said to have killed Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde on 4/5/2013?
· How can a gun that is in police custody since 24/4/2012 be used by robbers on the 4/5/2012 to kill Comrade Oyerinde Olaitan?
· How did Usman Maisamari know he will be contacted someday to go and assassinate Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde if ,after coming to change dollars to Naira on the second occasion, Maisamari had to trail him to his house long before he was contacted by the “David” ?
· How could a hired assassin be paid N200,000 out of N20million and over, a month after, he is yet to be paid his balance and their contractor is walking freely.
· How come, on interrogation, the suspects didn’t know Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde’s house neither do they know his car if in their statements they said they trailed him to his home twice?
· How come Garba Usman Maisamari, who the police said named one “David” and have been contacting the “David” on phone, could not mention Rev David Ugolor’s GSM service provider when on one- on- one interview with Ugolor?
· Why did the police arrest Rev David Ugolor without any concrete evidence against him having established evidence against other suspects?
· Why did the Nigeria Police flout court orders consistently even when their lawyers were in court?
· Why are the police not releasing the call log between Rev David Ugolor and Garba Usman Maisamari that they claimed exist?
The police responded point- by-point to the alleged inconsistencies. They said that when Moses Asamah Okoro, Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman and Auta Umaru were re-interrogated, they confirmed that, at a meeting with Garba Maisamari in a beer parlour around Owina Junction, Benin City, he, Maisamari, told them that if the job was successful and the man killed, they would be given N20million.
“The trio of Danjuma Musa, Muritala Usman and Auta Umaru Ali stated that Moses Asamah Okoro insisted that he wanted to meet the person to ensure that the money was paid and Garba Usman Maisamari called the man on phone and he spoke with Moses Asamah Okoro”,the police stated.
“The beer parlour at Owina Junction was visited, called ‘Somebody Parliament’. The owner, one James Amadin, identified Auta Umaru Ali as a customer who usually comes to patronize him with some Hausa boys.
“Consequently, Rev. David Ugolor of No 123 First East Circular Road, Benin City, whose features fitted Garba Usman Maisamari description and who has been previously questioned in the course of investigation was arrested on July 24, 2012.
“He was put up for identification parade on the same date and he was positively identified by Garba Usman Maisamari.”
The police noted the allegation of the” petitioners that one of their members Rev. David Ugolor was arrested on a singular and un-confirmed statement of a suspect who confessed that he, David, masterminded the assassination of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde”, saying, “We wish to confirm that the suspect, Garba Usman Maisamari, stated so even before Rev. David Ugolor and the confession is on video tape. We also wish to add that Rev. David Ugolor was positively identified in an identification parade conducted on July 27, 2012 by the said Garba Usman Maisamari in the presence of his lawyers.
“Worthy of note is that minutes before the parade, Rev. David Ugolor changed his position from No 4 to No 9 on the advice of one of his lawyers and it was at this point he was identified.”
Slamming the Edo State Ministry of Justice, the police said,”We wish to state for the purpose of clarity and public record that the assertion by the Edo State DPP in his legal advice attached to the Civil Society Organization petition under reference “that he is aware that the casefile of some persons who reportedly made confessional statements have been handed over to the police by the SSS is false in its entirety.
“We challenge him to show proof. Apart from the documents referred to as Documents 13 and 14 in Appendix 3, the police did not receive any other document from the Department of State Service.
“We also wish to point out that in the same legal advice under reference, the DPP had opined that a prima facie case of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and murder is made out against Usman Adamu amongst others. We do not know Usman Adamu and he was never investigated by the police.”
The police, in dismissing the alleged discrepancy over the arrest of the suspects, said, “The petitioners had argued that two of the suspects arrested by the police in the course of investigation were in custody when Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde was murdered.
Suspects Danjuma Musa ‘m’ and Muritala Usman ‘m’ were arrested on the 24th of May, 2012 and not 24th of April, 2012. The duo of Danjuma Musa and Muritala Usman were arrested by good Nigerians on the 24th of May, 2012 and handed over to the Divisional Police Officer, Oba Market Police Station, Benin City, who, in turn, handed them over to the Special Anti- Robbery Squad, Edo State Police Command on the same day for an offence of unlawful possession of cartridges.
“In the course of diligent investigation in the late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde’s murder, the operatives of the Force CID Abuja took over the suspects on the 27th of June, 2012.
“The statements made by the two suspects and witnesses who were present during the arrest elucidated this fact. The letter we wrote to the Edo State DPP on 19th November, 2012 stated the date of their arrest clearly and, for purposes of emphasis, is partly reproduced below:- “We wish to unequivocally state that the duo of Danjuma Musa and Muritala Usman were arrested on the 24th of May, 2012,”REPEAT 24th of May, 2012 AND NOT 24th of April, 2012”.
“The respective statements they made to the police contained in the duplicate case file which the learned DPP vetted contained this fact in pages B5a, B6d and B6f.
“Furthermore, the statements of eye witnesses to the arrest contained in pages A14 and A15 of the same case file elucidated this fact. The police investigation report clearly stated the date of arrest as 24th of May, 2012 in the following paragraphs and pages:- Paragraph 3.9, page 7 Paragraph 3.10.9 (x) page 23 Paragraph 3.10.9 (xi) page 24 Paragraph 3.10.9 (xxv) page 41 Paragraph 3.10.9 (xxvi) page 45 Paragraph 4 xxix page 85
We admit a printer’s error in the investigation report where 24/04/12 was typed in page 78 paragraph 4 (viii), line four instead of 24/05/12. We also posit that in no other part of that report did such an error or such a meaning was conveyed.
“Similarly, we ordinarily thought that the learned DPP was actually vetting the duplicate casefile which included the investigation report and not the investigation report alone and would have taken into consideration the statements made by the suspects, witnesses and all other circumstances/ramifications of the matter before the opinion.
“From the foregoing, it is very clear and obvious that the date of arrest of Danjuma Musa and Muritala Usman was 24th of May, 2012. “Any other insinuation to the contrary is not only mischievous but frivolous and aimed at diverting attention from the real issues”.