Police and the SSS, admit they carried out the murder investigation without an autopsy
The confusion that has beset one of Nigeria’s most intrigue-filled homicides – the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, the Principal Secretary of the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole – peaked Wednesday, with the federal government admitting it is confused with the investigation, and could not charge anyone for the crime nearly a year after.
The Attorney General of the federation, Mohammed Adoke, told lawmakers reviewing the case in a public hearing that his office was puzzled between investigations done by the police and that of the State Security Service and could not decide on which version to believe.
Both agencies parade different suspects.
Mr. Adoke, represented by O. T. Olatigbe, a deputy director in the Ministry of Justice, said at a dramatic hearing in a crowded House of Representatives hearing room, both versions were convincing.
“We were thrown into confusion because the details of the DSS report was also very convincing going by the details of how the investigations, leading to the arrest of the suspects were conducted,” he said.
His testimony climaxed hours of hearing that lawmakers hope will help find answers to a crime which analysts say appears clear-cut, but that has been made complex by messy investigations.
Mr. Oyerinde was murdered in his home on May 4, 2012, by gunmen who reportedly shot him multiple times, before stealing his personal effects.
The Edo state governor, Mr. Oshiomhole, has accused the police of masterminding the killing, and muddling the probe to shield the assailants.
At the hearing Wednesday, the governor repeated those claims.
“I have said it that the police is behind the killing of Olaitan,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
The police and the SSS say the attack involved armed robbery, and that the weapons used by the assassins murder had been recovered.
But a PREMIUM TIMES examination of the case, involving exclusive review of secret documents, revealed how the police staged suspects in the murder, parading two suspects and weapons that were already in police custody weeks ahead of Mr. Oyerinde’s killing.
The report was based on a letter written by the Edo state office of Public Prosecution to the police advising the force on the status of the suspects they claimed were involved in the attack.
Police testimonies before the House of Representatives committee on public petition subtly affirmed the suspects arrested were staged.
In testimonies by Deputy Inspector General of police Peter Gana, who supervised the investigation, the force admitted it did not carry out autopsy on the body to determine the cause of death, and did not conduct ballistic tests to match recovered weapons.
So how where the suspects and weapons arrived at?
While the SSS also admitted not conducting autopsy, the Director General of the service, Ita Ekpenyong, tendered what lawmakers said was a more believable version of the investigation, involving the use of telephone unique identification codes of Mr. Oyerinde to trace those who stole them, and those who purchased them.
Police, on its part, said they “stumbled” on the gun used in the crime after the cartridge dropped from the owner’s pocket during a public brawl, leading to his arrest.
The force claimed three guns were used during the attack, but could not state the whereabouts of the two other guns even though they claim to have the right suspects.
Mr. Gana admitted the police investigators behaved “unprofessionally” in the handling of the gun and the suspects. He blamed the local police chief, the District Police Officer, DPO, for the lapses.
In his presentation, the Director of Public Prosecution, Edo state, Ade Irehovbudei, accused the police of underhand dealings. He said the police refused to follow the usual procedure of forwarding final reports of investigation to the DPP’s office for advice.
In this case, the report was sent to the Attorney General’s office in Abuja. No decision has been taken since on the two reports from the police and the SSS, Mr. Adoke said.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who ordered the probe, has yet to seek answers for the assignment with the case file left gathering dusts in the Attorney-General’s office.
Mr. Adoke’s representative, Mr. Olatigbe, said the AGF had already started studying the police report on the incident before the SSS report arrived.