MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
At a time the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are doing everything to get rid of criminal elements in the country, the Lagos State Police Commissioner; Idowu Owohunwa has taken a swipe at the judiciary accusing it of partly being responsible for the free reign of suspects arrested and taken to court for prosecution.
The police boss made the disclosure on Monday at the State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja while parading the three suspects arrested in connection with the killing of Adeniyi Sanni, an aide to the Senator representing Ogun West; Solomon Adeola (a.k.a. Yayi).
Presenting the suspects namely Fred Azeez Okuno, 43-year-old Lagosian; Lucky Idudu Michael, 33-year-old from Delta State, and Adedigba Segun, 26-year-old from Oyo State before press men, Owohunwa said investigation so far revealed that the three suspects were directly involved in the robbery and murder of Sanni.
While briefing journalists on the painstaking efforts made by officers and men of the Lagos Command, in tracking down the three men, Owohunwa bemoaned the emerging trend of giving light sentences or freeing such suspects arrested and prosecuted in the past by the judiciary.
He noted that there have been instances where the judiciary neglected the gravity of the crime committed and chose to give soft landing to such criminal elements who in turn come back to perpetrate more vicious crimes like in the case of the three paraded suspects whom he described as “jail birds.”
He disclosed that investigation revealed that the three suspects had at one time or the other been arrested, tried and jailed over criminal offences and their years in Correctional centres had only helped to harden them.
The police commissioner also bemoaned the lapses going on in Nigeria Correctional Service facilities as confessions made by the paraded suspects revealed that their gang was formed while they were serving jail sentences.
One of the suspects Lucky Idubu Michael told journalists that it was in the Correctional centre (prison) that someone gave him the phone number of one Alhaji he could work with, on completion of his earlier sentence. Alhaji is incidentally the one behind activities of the gang soon after they were released from their earlier sentences.
The Alhaji (name with-held) currently at large is said to be a Nigerian but resident in Republic of Benin from where he coordinated the car robbery and murder gang.
The Senator’s aide Adeniyi Sanni was killed on August 5, 2023 when he was stopped by ‘fake security’ agents wearing Nigerian Army uniform at a checkpoint in Ojodu Berger area on his way to his home in Isheri, Lagos.
Owohunwa said, “Through painstaking intelligence and investigative activities, we have succeeded in arresting the syndicate of the robbery and murder. The three suspects directly involved in the robbery and murder were arrested with three firearms including the killer’s weapon were recovered.”
In their confessions to journalists, the suspects who were masked by police to avoid being accused of human rights violation during the parade said they did not intend to kill Sanni whose identity they did not initially know.
They had stopped him presenting themselves as security agents wearing army uniforms with intention to rob him of his vehicle which had no plate number yet. “It was a tokunbo Camry black in colour. We only rob tokunbo cars which we normally take to Alhaji in Republic Benin to sale,” said one of the suspects.
According to their confession, Sanni was shot when he raised alarm seeking help from people when he noticed that they might not be genuine military men after they had checked his vehicle documents and yet refused to free him.
After shooting him repeatedly with pistol, they dumped his body at the booth of the vehicle but when they noticed he was still alive, they stabbed him to death and subsequently dumped his corpse on the way. When they drove near Nigeria’s border with Republic of Benin, they called Alhaji to come and take delivery of the vehicle.
The suspects confessed that they negotiated with Alhaji to pay them N3million which he promised to remit soon after he must have sold the vehicle. According to them, Alhaji had requested them to come with another vehicle when coming for their N3million, but they became unfortunate as police arrested them before they could embark on the second mission.
During their arrest, police recovered one brand new pistol with three live ammunition, one Baretta pistol with three live ammunition, one locally made pistol with six live cartridges, six expended cartridges, military gear comprising a military camouflage vest, jungle hat, pistol hose and a red Honda CRV from the suspects.
According to the police commissioner, investigation has revealed that the gang members were on narcotics as at the time they carried the act.
He has raised alarm on the growing trend of criminals impersonating military personnel wondering where they procure the uniforms and other accoutrements. “This portends great danger as members of the public might not easily know who is a genuine military personnel or not.”
At the parade were representatives of the Nigerian Army from 9th Brigade who were there to observe and listen to the confessions of the suspects and possibly fashion out how best to form synergy with the police in curbing the criminals.