Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Nigeria Police Force thursday confirmed the arrest of the killers of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has also declared the principal suspect, Tambaya (other names unknown) wanted for his alleged involvement in the death of Olakunrin.
Olakunrin was attacked and killed by the suspects while travelling between Kajola and Ore along Ondo-Ore road in Ondo State on July 12, 2019.
Her killing provoked national outrage.
A statement by Force Public Relations Officer and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Frank Mba, said the arrest followed the deployment of the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Fimihan Adeoye, to coordinate the team of police special forces and seasoned investigators from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Federal SARS, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) from the Force Headquarters in Abuja to carry out the massive manhunt for the killers with the aim of arresting and bringing them to justice.
The arrested suspects are: Lawal Mazaje ‘male’ 40 years from Felele area of Kogi State; Adamu Adamu ‘male’ 50 years from Jada area of Adamawa State; Mohammed Shehu Usman ‘male’ 26 years from Illela area of Sokoto State; and Auwal Abubakar ‘male’ 25 years from Shinkafi area of Zamfara State.
According to the statement, investigations so far revealed that the operation that led to the killing was carried out by eight fully armed kidnap/robbery suspects led by Tambaya who is currently at large.
Four of the identified suspects are in custody while efforts are being intensified to arrest four others still on the run.
“The eight-man gang has its operational base and membership spread in the South-western part of the country and Edo State.
“Investigations have also revealed that they are responsible for series of high-profile armed robbery and kidnap operations in the region. They also attack, vandalise and steal components of critical national infrastructure such as electrical and telecommunication installations,” the statement said.
It added that the police team, on March 4, 2020, during a follow-up action on a case of a high-profile armed robbery and kidnap for ransom that occurred in Ogun State, arrested one Auwal Abubakar 25, for being an accessory after the fact of the crime, along Sagamu-Ore Expressway in Ondo State.
The arrest of Abubakar led to the arrest of two other members of the gang, Mohammed Shehu Usman and Lawal Mazaje in Benin, Edo State from whom a cache of ammunition was recovered and one other Adamu Adamu in Akure, Ondo State.
“Having established sufficient physical and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the investigators, determined to clear all doubts relating to their findings, on April 8, 2020, conducted an identification parade at the Federal SARS Headquarters, Lagos which led to the positive and physical identification of three suspects, Adamu Adamu, Lawal Mazaje and Mohammed Shehu Usman by a survivor of the earlier crime.
“The survivor gave a clear description of the roles each of the identified suspects played in the killing. At this point, the suspects capitulated and voluntarily offered a no-holds-barred confession on how Mrs Funke Olakunrin was killed,” the police said.
Giving more details about the fleeing gang leader, it said Tambaya, a Nigerian, speaks Hausa, Fulfulde, and pidgin English languages.
“He is fair in complexion and in his late 20s between the age of 27 and 30. His last known address is Isanlu, Kogi State. He has visible scar from stitches on his forehead down to his nose and mouth,” the statement said.
The IG stated that the suspects would be prosecuted on completion of investigations and the police would not relent until every member of the gang is arrested and brought to book.
The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, had on April 7, issued a statement commending SARS for the arrest.
However, when asked to confirm the claim by the Afenifere spokesman, Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Undie Adie, had told THISDAY that “it is not true, please.”