The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) has stated that it has reached a stalemate in the prosecution of the circumstances surrounding the? murder of Mr Olaitan Oyerinde, the former principal personal secretary of Edo State governor Adams Oshiomhole.
Speaking at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, a representative of the AGF, a deputy director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr O.T. Olatigbe, said the Ministry of Justice was “in a dilemma” on the grounds of the conflicting reports of the police and the Department of State Security Service (SSS) on the same case.
The two security agencies have produced two different sets of suspects for the murder. The two sets of suspects are in police detention.
The disclosure was made during a public hearing on a petition on the allegation by Oshiomhole that the deputy inspector-general of police posted to the state to carry out the investigation on the case, Peter Gana, and the commissioner of police in Edo State deliberately bungled the case to shield the real culprits. The petition was presented on the floor of the House by Hon. Pally Iriase (ACN, Edo State).
In his presentation, Olatigbe stunned the committee when he claimed: “The ministry is in a dilemma on what to do. We received the two reports from the two security agencies on the case but we got that of the police first. The SSS report only came last week. We are still weighing the evidence. We are held down because the prosecutors were not part of the investigation. We are on hold; we don’t know what to do. That is the situation for now. We need more information or for a separate investigation to be carried out.”
He also said they had requested the weapon, iPad and phone of the deceased to aid their work.
This position was received badly by the committee members who raised concern about the competence of the representative.
Chairman of the committee Hon. Azuh Azubuike said, “It is shameful and embarrassing that in a situation like this, the Office of the Attorney-General would be confused and not in a position to advise.”
Meanwhile, Governor Oshiomhole, during his presentation to the committee, took time to take the committee through the circumstances that led to his conclusion that the police was culpable in the death of his aide. Insisting that the police, specifically the commissioner of police in the state and the DIG, were involved in the murder of Oyerinde, he queried the attitude of secrecy of the men assigned to do the job.
They withheld details of the investigation from him till he had to wield his powers as the state executive. He also said the person accused of killing the late principal secretary was already in the custody of the police at the time of the murder while the weapon for the murder as stated by the police was already booked as evidence from an armed robbery scene months back.
Oshiomhole said, “Police murdered Oyerinde if we are to go by what they said because one of the suspects they claimed to have arrested was, according to their crime log, already in their custody before the murder took place while the gun was already admitted as evidence from a crime scene in Esigie police station in Benin City. What this means is that the police must have released the suspect to go and commit the crime.”
According to him, the police were trying to do the biddings of some high-ranking people by covering up the activities of the real culprits. He queried why the police was implicating Rev. David Ugulor in the case when the SSS has exhaustively investigated and produced confessed perpetrators of the murder.
The governor, while informing the committee of inconsistencies in the investigation report of the police on the case, said the contradiction of the police of its own report led him to the conclusion that there is a cover-up attempt somewhere.
“That level of negligence, that level of incompetence does not fit the office of a DIG and that’s why I asked that the DIG must be dismissed,” he stated.
Giving its own angle to the case, the Office of the Director of Prosecution of Edo State Ministry of Justice, Osagie Obayuwana, accused the police of underhand dealings in the matter, saying that the police refused to follow the normal procedure of forwarding its final report of investigation to it for advice, choosing instead to go straight to the AGF office in Abuja.
He identified “four main issues” that, he said, would help to resolve the debacle. The four points were also the same mentioned by the governor as pointers to a cover-up attempt.
The attorney pointed out that:
1. The gun allegedly used by the police’s suspects to murder Oyerinde had been booked in the police log in April, a month before the crime took place.
2. That one of the suspects accused by the police had been in custody before the crime took place.
3. That the police have not been able to produce the call log of the discussion between the suspected coordinator of the murder, David Ugolor, and the accused; and
4. The bye-pass of the state department of public prosecution for advice to the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Giving the summary of the SSS, the director-general, Ekpeyong Ita disclosed how the service was able to use details of the IMEI numbers of Oyeride’s phones that were stolen by the robbers to trace and arrest them, leading to the capture of the suspects paraded by the agency.
The suspects, he said, have been handed over to the police for prosecution.
DIG Peter Gana described the petition by the complainant as “a distraction”, as he and his team had followed a thorough process? to arrive at the set of suspects the police got.
Oshiomhole also raised concern on the insecurity and general apathy of the nation, saying: “I am worried Nigeria is turning into a banana republic where murders go unsolved. I urge the president, Goodluck Jonathan, to set up an independent inquiry committee constituting credible Nigerians and which the Office of the National Security Adviser will midwife.”