IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja
Inter-agency rivalry between the police and the State Security Service (SSS) has muddled investigations into the killing of Olaitan Oyerinde, the private Principal Secretary of Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
The police and the SSS are parading two sets of suspects in the killing and they both believe they have the right suspects in their custody.
The police are insisting that human rights activist and Director of the African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev. David Ugolor, who is in their custody, is culpable for allegedly hiring the gang that killed Oyerinde.
While the police are claiming the eight suspects in their custody killed Oyerinde on May 4 in Benin, the SSS has in its custody six suspects for their alleged involvement in the killing.
The SSS, which recently paraded some suspects for allegedly killing Oyerinde during a robbery operation in his house, is however set to hand over the suspects to the police.
SSS Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, at a news conference Thursday listed the suspects to be handed over to the police as Mohammed Abdullahi, Raymond Origbo, Chikezie Edeh, Saidu Yakubu, Sani Abubakar and Hassan Bashiru.
She denied insinuations that the service was recycling suspects even though the suspects, when they were paraded, were dressed in the same clothes as some suspects earlier paraded for a different offence.
She said the suspects paraded on August 1 for the killing of Oyerinde were not the same as the three paraded on March 14.
According to her, those paraded on March 14 were three young men aged between 19 and 20, who were arrested for conducting surveillance on two expatriates before their abduction.
She said the March 14 suspects were Bashir Ibrahim, Ibrahim Habibu and Gambo Maiborodi.
“Certain interests have exploited both social and print media to peddle false insinuations that some of the suspects paraded on August 1, 2012 in connection with Comrade Oyerinde’s killing have earlier been paraded by this service on March 14 as they appeared to have been dressed alike.
“The service therefore wishes to state emphatically that at no time has it recycled suspects even though some of the suspects were paraded in same clothes.
“It is pertinent to state that the suspects paraded on March 14, 2012 were three young men between the ages of 19 and 20 who were discovered to have conducted surveillance on two expatriate staff before their abduction,” she said.
Ogar said any attempt to link both groups was diversionary and intended to trivialise and politicise the murder of Oyerinde.
She dismissed reports of rivalry between the SSS and the police, saying: "We are not working at cross purposes. We are inseparably tied together. The issue of rivalry does not arise. We will continue to partner for the good of the country.”
However, at a separate press conference yesterday, the police said Ugolor was being held following the confession of some arrested suspects in connection with the murder of Oyerinde.
Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said that the suspects confessed to have been contracted by Ugolor for N20 million to kill Oyerinde.
He said the suspects had admitted to have received N200,000 as part payment for the crime.
According to him, eight suspects are already in the custody of the police in connection with the crime.
He said the police were being guided by “simple test of reason” in the continued detention of Ugolor.
Mba said: “We are not out to persecute any of the suspects, we will not be stampeded to do things that are unprofessional,” adding that investigation was still ongoing in the matter.
Meanwhile, a Benin High Court, presided over by Justice Esther Edigin has reserved judgment till September 6, in the application by Ugolor for the enforcement of his fundamental rights following his continued detention by the police despite the court order that he should be released on bail pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Justice Edigin had on August 16 granted bail to the detained activist following a motion ex parte filed by his counsel, Mr. Afolabi Olayiwola, and directed the Inspector General of Police (IG) to release him.