Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to set up a high-powered Panel of Inquiry to look into the contradictions between two federal security agencies, the Nigerian Police Force and the State Security Services (SSS), over the killing of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, his Principal Private Secretary.
Comrade Oyerinde was killed by gunmen in his residence in Benin City, on May 4, this year.
In a statement, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Peter Okhiria, said: “the attention of Governor Adams Oshiomhole has been drawn to the contradictory claims by two federal security agencies, namely, the State Security Services and the Police Force over the killing of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, his Principal private Secretary.
“While the SSS paraded some people who alleged to have confessed to the killing of Comrade Oyerinde on account of armed robbery, the Nigeria Police also said they have in their custody exactly the same number of persons who allegedly confessed to the killing of Comrade Oyerinde.
“In fact, the Police have gone ahead to arrest one Rev David Ugolor who is alleged to have been implicated as the sponsor of the murder. In order to clear the position of the Edo State Government, we wish to note the following:
“Following the murder of Comrade Oyerinde, the Governor gave the security agencies a 14-day ultimatum to find the killers, which he suspected was politically-motivated. Within a few days of his murder, Mr. Governor was informed by the SSS in confidence that they had made some progress, having located Comrade Oyerinde’s telephone and those who bought it and eventually using their own skills, they were able to arrest, one after the other, those who have since confessed that they killed Comrade Oyerinde.
“Subsequently, at about the end of June, the SSS again, apparently to assure the Governor of the progress made, paraded the suspects before the Governor and he had the opportunity to ask some questions, for about 45 minutes, about the murder and they told him who fired the shot, where they stood, who bought the phone and for how much and they also showed him the weapons used and the amount of money they found which was less than fifty thousand naira.
“From the interface with the suspects paraded by the SSS, the Governor was convinced that they were indeed responsible for the murder of Comrade Oyerinde to which they had confessed. The suspects also repeated to the Governor the confessions they had made to the SSS that they were the same gang that made an attempt to attack the State Commissioner for Information, Hon Louis Odion at his residence and their account corroborated that of Hon Odion who narrated to the Governor that ‘it was the vigilance group in his area that scared the attackers away’.
“The Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is convinced and impressed that the SSS did their job professionally. The only matter that remains unclear is the motive; whether it was a clear case of armed robbery or assassination on the ground that there were two men in the house and the invaders asked Comrade Oyerinde’s wife: ‘who is your husband’. If it was a clear case of armed robbery, it would not have mattered who the husband was.
“Two weeks after the SSS briefing, the attention of Mr. Governor was brought to reports in the newspapers that the Police also arrested some people who also allegedly confessed to the killing of Comrade Oyerinde. Each time the Governor asked the Commissioner of Police of Edo State on the progress made on the matter, he insisted that the case was being handled by the Force Headquarters and was not in a position or permitted to brief the Governor.
“Following the arrest of Rev David Ugolor and the interest it has generated, the Governor cut short his vacation, and upon his return to the state invited the Commissioner of Police to brief him on the latest development. The Governor told the Police Commissioner of his worries about not being briefed not only as the complainant whose associate was murdered but also as the Governor who has the responsibility for the protection of lives and property in the state. Again, the Commissioner of Police maintained that only the Force Headquarters could brief the Governor even when the officer in charge of the case is on ground here in Benin City.
“Having expressed his disappointment on the seeming secrecy and lethargy of the Police and having regard to the persistent reports and calls he received on the matter and on the contradictory role of the two security agencies, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) heading the investigations finally briefed the Governor on their investigation on Friday, August 10, 2012.
“After listening to the briefing, the Governor came to the conclusion that there were several inconsistencies in the IPO’s narrative, in particular the alleged involvement of Rev David Ugolor who is easily the most prominent civil society activist in Edo State and a well-known friend of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde.
“According to the DCP (IPO), some of the suspects had confessed one after the other to have participated in the killing of Comrade Olaitan in the course of an armed robbery operation. When they (Police) picked the 4th or 5th suspect, he mentioned that the person who coordinated the operation had told them that they would be paid N20m to assassinate Comrade Oyerinde and the coordinator was already in the police cell.
“The DCP told the Governor that the Police brought the alleged coordinator out of the Cell and put the question to him, to wit: the issue of sponsorship of the killing of Comrade Oyerinde and he admitted that it was one ‘David’ that contracted him to carry out the operation and that they said ‘David’ had paid N200,000 out of N20 million agreed between them.
“That the following morning after the killing of Comrade Oyerinde, Rev Ugolor allegedly phoned him (the coordinator) to confirm that the job had been done and that Comrade Oyerinde had been taken to the mortuary. That at the identification parade, the suspect pointed to Rev David Ugolor as the alleged sponsor. The DCP said they have the call logs of Rev Ugolor and when Mr. Governor asked if the claim of regular phone contact between the suspect and Rev Ugolor had been established, the DCP said he had received the call log of Rev Ugolor and was yet to verify that of the other suspect who ‘implicated’ him.
“The Governor is surprised that about two weeks after David Ugolor’s arrest, there is no concrete link between him and his accuser. One would have thought that such link would have been established before any arrest is made.
“The Governor asked the DCP if the N20 million had been paid to the suspects to whom he said no. The Governor also asked if it was possible that a hired killer who had carried out a killing for an agreed sum could subsequently allow over two month’s gap without being paid.
“Again, the Governor further asked the DCP if the suspect knows the residence of Rev Ugolor to which he said no. He further inquired to know how the suspect knew Rev Ugolor to which the DCP said it was through their transactions in foreign exchange
“The question is if the relationship between Rev David Ugolor and the suspect was based on transactions in foreign exchange on two occasions only, how did David Ugolor conclude that in addition to foreign exchange transactions, the suspect was also a hired killer?
“Like every other Nigerian, the Governor is extremely worried about the claims of two federal security agencies, which, no matter what anyone says, at the end of the day, one of the arms must clearly be playing out a script designed to shield the actual killers and/or their sponsors and it fits into the unenviable record of unresolved politically-motivated murder cases in the country, which Mr President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has denounced publicly when he ordered the security agencies, in unmistakable terms, to fish out the killers of Comrade Oyerinde.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there are too many contradictions in the narrative of the Police and their reluctance even to brief the Governor on the progress as the Chief Complainant and also as the Governor of Edo State.
“With the level of technological advancements in the world, and given the Police admission that a lot of the exchange of conversation between the alleged suspects was on the telephone, the Governor is of the view that the Police ought to have established through the call logs the evidence between the suspects before the detention of Rev David Ugolor.
“The Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, therefore respectfully requests Mr. President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to set up a high-powered panel of inquiry or set up a crack team to resolve this national embarrassment.”