By Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja/The Nation
THERE seems to be no end to the crisis of confidence between the police and the State Security Service (SSS) over the probe of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde’s murder.
The two agencies, once again, went public yesterday with contradictory claims in respect of suspects arrested in the murder of Oyerinde, the Principal Secretary to Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
Oyerinde was murdered in his GRA, Benin home on May 4. The SSS returned a robbery verdict, but the police insist it was a case of sponsored killing.
The SSS yesterday presented before the media the six suspects it paraded on August 1, maintaining its position that three of the suspects participated directly in the crime. The remaining three were receivers of stolen items from Oyerinde’s home, the agency said.
The police, through Deputy Force spokesman Frank Mba, listed seven principal suspects and several other persons as suspects in the crime. They are those who the police believe are the mastermind, sponsor and abetter of the crime. No suspect was paraded at the police briefing in Abuja.
Mba insisted that police investigation had fingered rights activist Rev. David Ugolor as the sponsor of the murder. Asked if the police have established any clue as to Ugolor’s likely motive – if they are convinced he knew about the murder – Mba said investigators were still working on the possibility of establishing such motives.
“We are still working on the possibility of establishing the motives behind the killing. But, for security reasons and for the purposes of protecting the integrity of our investigation, we are not going to divulge certain information at this point,” Mba said.
According to him, one Garuba Usman Maisamari assembled the suspects, allegedly on request by Rev. Ugolor, to assassinate Oyerinde. He added that Ugolor was identified by some of the suspects during an identification parade in Benin on May 27.
The police said one of the suspects, Moses Asamah Okoro, confessed that Maisamari promised to pay them N20 million to kill Oyerinde, but that they were given N200,000 advance payment, allegedly by Maisamari.
Okoro was said to have also confessed that he, alongside Danjuma Musa and Abubakar Usman, killed the governor’s aide.
Other suspects named by the police in the case are: Danjuma Musa; Murtala Usman, Auta Umaru Ali, Moses Asama Okoro (a.k.a. Moses Auchi), Usman Adamu (a.k.a. Duna), who allegedly provided two motorcycles for the operation, Idris Abdulhamid and Hassan Aliyu.
Mba said two other suspects – Bashir and Abubakar Lawal – who the police described as receivers of stolen goods, were in the custody of the SSS. Bashir Ibrahim is one of the suspects in the custody of the SSS. Abubakar Lawal cannot be accounted for.
The six suspects re-paraded by the SSS in respect of the Oyerinde murder are: Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi, Raymond Onajite Origbo, Chikezie Edeh, Saidu Yakubu (a.k.a. Imam), Sani Abdullahi Abubakar and Hassan Bashiru.
The SSS took exception to the misgivings among the public on the similarities in the shirts donned by some of the suspects in the Oyeride case and the ones worn by three terror suspects it paraded on March 14, in respect of the kidnap and killing of Christopher Mc Manus and Franco Lamolinara, two expatriate workers of a construction firm in Sokoto by insurgents.
Reacting to insinuations that the SSS recycled suspects in the two cases, the service’s spokesperson, Ms. Marilyn Ogar, paraded the two sets of suspects side-by-side in the same shirts in which they were earlier paraded on March 14 and August 1.
Journalists at the briefing established the differences in the ages and faces of the two sets of suspects, though the shirts they wore were similar in colours and designs.
The SSS restated the names of the three suspects in the expatriates’ kidnap and killing as Bashir Ibrahim (a.k.a. Adda’u), Ibrahim A. Habibu and Gambo Maiborodi.
“For the avoidance of doubt, both groups have no link whatsoever as they were apprehended for different offences at separate locations and at different times. Also, the suspects arrested in connection with the kidnap of the expatriates were between the ages of 19 and 20 years, while those apprehended over Comrade Oyerinde’s killing are between the ages of 26 and 46 years,” Ms Ogar said.
Ogar appealed to members of the public to be wary of deliberate machinations of people she described as mischievous elements who delight in spreading falsehood.
Shortly after the briefing, the SSS handed the six suspects over to the Special Anti Robbery Squad, Force Headquarters, Abuja for prosecution.