BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State has been exonerated from two politically coloured killings that occurred just before the recent gubernatorial election in the state. The killing of the incumbent governor’s aide has indeed thrown up a melodrama of sorts.
IT all started on April 27, 2012 at the peak of the campaigns for the just held gubernatorial election in Edo State when Governor Adams Oshiomhole narrowly escaped death while on a trip from Afuze in Owan East local government area to Auchi.
A truck from the opposite direction ran into his convoy, missed his official vehicle narrowly and smashed into the press bus killing three of the journalists in the convoy.
Given that Oshiomhole, the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in the election was locked in battle with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it was not difficult for the governor and his top lieutenants to direct their suspicions towards the PDP.
The hullabaloo that followed the accident had hardly died down when the Principal Private Secretary to Governor Oshiomhole, Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, was murdered by gun men at his residence in the early hours of 4th May, 2012.
Oyerinde was said to be a very close confidant of the governor who had worked closely with him from Oshiomhole’s days in the labour union. The murder of the 44 years old labour activist was met with grief and suspicious from the Oshiomhole’s administration who viewed the murder as another arrow aimed at crippling his second term aspiration.
“Last week, they succeeded in killing three journalists; last night, they killed Oyerinde. Let me be clear: they cannot kill my fighting spirit,” Oshiomhole said in his reaction to the murder on the morning of the tragic killing. Inevitably suspicion was again laid at the doors of the PDP.
Late Olaitan Oyerinde
Speaking during a condolence visit to the family, in Ede, Osun State, Oshiomhole expressed his hurt: “Those who killed him really got me where it hurts most. They knew that if they could not get the king, they would get his son. I know we will use broad day light to get the cowards who killed Oyerinde”.
He gave the Police 14 days to uncover those responsible for the murder and even offered a N10 million reward to anyone with information that would lead to the apprehension of those responsible.
In the heat of the emotions, the government also named Delta Crescent, where the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP has his residence after Oyerinde. The PDP was quick to dissociate itself from the hanging allegations of violence against it as its chairman in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih described the insinuation against his party as “malicious”, insisting that it was designed to taint the image of the PDP in the state.
Remarkably, the Police was to absolve the PDP of blame in the first allegation of instigating the accident that killed the three journalists. But then, no one has been charged or even indicted for the accident. However, the Oyerinde murder investigation has opened a controversy of its own that no one bargained for.
Two different sets of persons have been indicted by the Police and the State Security Services, which separately investigated the case. The Police in Benin had a week or so ago alleged the culpability of a foremost civil rights activist and friend of the late Oyerinde, Rev David Ugolor in the murder.
A day or so later, the Deputy Director, Public Relations, of the SSS Marilyn Ogar paraded a number of men it claimed were the suspected killers of Oyerinde giving the name of the leader of the murder gang as Mohammed Abdullahi.
According to her, SSS investigations revealed that Oyeinde was murdered by the trio of Mohammed Abdullahi, Raymond Origbo and Chikezie Edeh, while three other suspects; Yakubu Saidu, Sani Abdullahi and Hassan Bashiru were receivers of stolen items.
Gov.Oshinmhole of ACN and Gen. Airhiavbare of PDP
On his part, the leader of the gang, Mohammed Abdullahi confessed that they were on a robbery mission to Oyerinde’s house based on information given to them by the security guard to Oyerinde that he kept huge amount of money at home. The confession by the principal suspect is contrary to the speculation making the rounds that late aide to Governor Adams Oshiomhole was assassinated for political reasons.
It was not surprising that the PDP in the state which had been lying low since it was soundly defeated in the gubernatorial elections of last month rose to shout eureka!
In an ironical twist to the two week ultimatum that Oshiomhole gave to the Police to fetch out Oyerinde’s killers, the Youth Wing of the PDP in Edo State also gave a two week ultimatum to Governor Oshiomhole to tender unreserved apology to the former chairman Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih and members of the party over his statement that it was the leadership of the party that masterminded Oyerinde’s killing.
The party in a statement by Mr. Vincent Ose Akhere, the State Youth leader of the PDP, carpeted the ACN state administration over its inability to provide adequate security for the protection of lives and property of residents, particularly, that of late Oyerinde, who he said was as a high profile official of the government in power in the state.
Akhere insisted that with the confessional statements of six suspects arrested and paraded by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) in Abuja, it was clear that “the cat had been let out of the bag.”
He said: “The youths, therefore, challenge the ACN led government in Edo State to hide its head in shame for the inability to secure the lives and property of Edo people particularly such a high profile personality in government who died in the hands of those social miscreants.”
Orbih was to further allege that the accusations hurled at the PDP by the ACN were to enable the ruling government in the state win sympathy votes during the gubernatorial election. He was quoted as telling a national newspaper: “We have been vindicated.
“No matter how long a lie persists, the truth shall always prevail. Now, the world knows that leadership of the party is innocent of all the false charges by Oshiomhole. The governor knew it was a clear case of armed robbery occasioned by the general insecurity in Edo State under his watch as governor.”
Meanwhile, Ugolor who was a bosom friend of Oyerinde has claimed his innocence. Ugolor was with Oyerinde few hours before death came knocking. They had their normal outing until about 11 pm after which Oyerinde dropped Ugolor in his residence and departed for his own residence.
Recalling their last moments at a press briefing shortly after Oyerinde was murdered, Ugolor who was in tears said Oyerinde was not killed by friends. He said: “Oyerinde was with me that night. He called me after closing from work and we went to Etete Street to have a drink. After about 11pm we left. He dropped me at my house and he drove home.
“At about 2 am, the wife knocked on my window and told me they have shot Oyerinde. I went and we took him to the hospital. He died in our hands after about 30 minutes. Oyerinde was not killed by his friends as speculated. It is only coward that will resort to violence. We live in a free world. Oyerinde never believed in security. He never thought anybody will hurt him”.
Meanwhile, the controversy over the whole matter got messier at the weekend with the revelation that three of the six suspects paraded by the SSS last week wore exactly the same shirts worn by three Boko Haram suspects also paraded by the SSS last March. The similarity in clothing was stirring mutterings about more controversy on the issue.
Meanwhile the Police was insisting yesterday that it was right in its own investigations despite the announcement by the SSS that it had apprehended a different set of suspects.
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