From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Michael Egbejule (Benin City), John Okeke and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
THE State Security Service (SSS) yesterday paraded six suspects alleged to be responsible for the death of the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the Edo State Governor, Olaitan Oyerinde, who was killed by unknown gun at his residence.
Meanwhile, civil society groups have condemned the continued detention of Rev. David Ugolor who was arrested last Friday in connection with the murder.
The groups which protested in Benin City and Abuja yesterday and signed a joint statement included Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Edo State Conference of NGOs (CONGOs), South South Youth League (SSYL), Downtrodden Forum for Development (DFFD), Niger Delta Youth Congress (NDYC), Voice of the Masses (VOM), Gani Fawehinmi Movement for Good Governance (GfMGG), Ijaw Youth Council (IYC),Olodiama Youth Movement (OYM), Edo Student Parliament (ESP), Edo State Ladies League (ESLL), The New Nigeria Parliament (TNNP), Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), Initiative for Youth Awareness on Development and Reintegration ( IYADR) and Cradle for Black Civilization (CBC) .
The suspects were led by security officials into the conference hall of the SSS headquarters in Abuja in a blindfold. When the blindfold was removed, they told journalists that they were not assassins but on a mission to rob the household located at No. 65, 2nd Ugbor Road, GRA Benin City in the early hours of May 4, 2012.
Addressing reporters on the arrest earlier, the SSS Public Relations Officer, Marilyn Ogar explained that Oyerinde was murdered in cold blood by the trio of Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullahi, Raymond Onajite Origbo and Chikezie Edeh.
She further explained that the three other suspects., Saidu Yakubu, also known as Imam, Sani Abdullahi Abubakar, an indigene of Gaya Village in the Republic of Niger and Hassan Bashiru were habitual buyers of stolen items.
Giving details of the SSS investigations, Ogar, a Deputy Director, revealed that careless statements made by Ali Ihade, Ayorinde’s security guard at various times about his master’s position in government, attracted the attention of the prime suspect, Abdullahi, who consequently hatched a robbery operation.
On the day of the robbery, she said “Abdullahi specifically instructed other gang members to tie up Ihiade before they entered Ayorinde’s residence so that Ihiade will not see his face.”
“According to the robbery gang, Oyerinde was shot and killed by Abdullahi, when he ran into his bedroom and attempted to go underneath his bed. Abdullahi said he believed Oyerinde was bringing out a gun under the bed and therefore shot him.”
Ogar disclosed that items the robbers removed from Oyerinde’s residence were: four Blackberry phones, one IPad, two Galaxy pads, one laptop, a wedding ring and an unspecified sum of money belonging to the brother-in-law, Adeyinka Oletubo.
She said: “The weapons comprising three guns, used during the robbery have all been recovered,” and disclosed that the suspects are currently in the custody of the SSS and would be handed over to the Police for criminal prosecution.
Answering questions from reporters, the suspects who separately confessed to carrying out the murder said the intention of the gang was not to kill Oyerinde but to rob the household.
The groups’ statement noted: “We members of Civil Society Organisations represented hereunder are shocked that up till now Rev. Ugolor who was arrested on Friday July 27, 2012, is still being held by men of the Nigeria police tagged ‘Federal SARS’ over the murder of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde. We are pained by the inhuman condition he has been subjected to like a common criminal since his arrest even as we believe strongly in his innocence
“Rev Ugolor made frantic efforts to save the life of Comrade Olaitan after he was shot by his assailants, when Comrade Olaitan’s wife rushed to his house in the middle of the night to inform him of the unfortunate incident. Rev. Ugolor without delay rushed Comrade Olaitan to the Central Hospital, Benin City, to seek medical attention in order to save his life.
The groups said that they had examined the situation and reached the conclusion that some faceless persons who felt threatened by the lawful activities of Ugolor and his organization had planned to dent his image with the murder of Oyerinde.”
“Such persons should know today that such action will raise the profile of Rev. Ugolor against their selfish desires and wicked plot.
“We attest to the fact that Rev David Ugolor is a man of integrity and unquestionable character who has always advocated a non-violent approach to societal development. He has engaged government across board both locally and internationally with this approach, which has yielded positive results for the nation and the globalised world. His activism spans over two decades of coordinated, well-articulated and result-oriented activities acknowledged internationally.
“We completely denounce his continued incarceration and demand his immediate and unconditional release so that he can re-unite with his family,” they stated.
They urged the security agents to bring the conspirators to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
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