who is not afraid to do ‘battle’ with whoever crosses his path. He is an expert in verbal assault. He does not carry any weapon or missile but his tongue is his own “ballistic missile”. He uses this so effectively that he has become so well known for this art of deploying his tongue as ‘weapon of mass destruction.’
In his days as president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the teeming Nigerian workers were his troops. These were the men he unleashed at recalcitrant employers who would always shortchange their employees. He led them in many ‘picketing’ assaults on many companies, corporations and even government establishments. Several times, he came out victorious as he was able to extract a better condition of service for the workers.
As governor, Oshiomhole has gone to battle with the vampires of Edo politics who nearly strangulated the state politically and economically by holding on to the jugular of past governors of the state. In the last four and a half years, he has succeeded in caging the so-called godfathers, many of whom have been forced to vote with their feet. Those who dared to confront him have met in him, a formidable foe not easy to overrun. Consequently, they have either beaten a retreat into their cocoons or put a permanent adhesive on their lips.
Even though he has conveniently secured a second term in office as governor, Oshiomhole is a bitter person at the moment. He is bitter that he is yet to get justice for the gruesome murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, his former private secretary. Oyerinde was callously mowed down by heartless hoodlums in his residence in Benin City, the state capital, on May 4, 2012.
Since then, it has been a cat and mouse game between the security agencies and his killers on the one hand, and the police and the State Security Service, SSS, on the other. In fact, the situation can be best described as a potpourri of confusion for short. It is so bad that while the police paraded some people who they told the public were responsible for Oyerinde’s death, the SSS also paraded another set of people as the real culprits.
And if the public is confused on which of the storyline to believe, the police and SSS are even more confused than the public. Yet they have continuously denied that there is any rift between the two agencies who should be working for the same goal. Right now, the two set of suspects are in different courts charged with the murder of one and the same person.
Perhaps, Nigerians may have gone to sleep too soon while the security agencies continue to blunder, as it were, over Oyerinde’s case. If that is true, that seeming stupor was truncated last Thursday in Abuja at the formal launch of the new Police Code of Conduct. The event had in attendance, Vice President Namadi Sambo, state governors, ministers, top brass of the Police and other dignitaries.
Trust Oshiomhole. He will not allow such an opportunity to slip away. So the setting that afternoon provided him a good platform to vent his anger on the police hierarchy over the alleged shoddy investigation conducted by the police officer who investigated Oyerinde’s death.
The warrior-governor caused a stir during the course of his speech at the occasion, when he called for the immediate dismissal of Peter Gana, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, in charge of Criminal Investigation Department at the Force Headquarters, for allegedly bungling the investigation of the murder. The governor demanded that Gana should be charged with murder or conspiracy after the fact of murder.
In the wake of the dastardly killing of Oyerinde, Gana was detailed by the Inspector General of Police, IG, Mohammed Abubakar, to investigate the murder. But Oshiomhole alleged that instead of going after Oyerinde’s murderers, the DIG seized Oyerinde’s friend, Rev. David Ugolor, and clamped him into detention. He also accused the DIG of presenting a gun which was recovered from a previous crime scene as the one used in the murder.
‘Oshiomhole is a bitter person at the moment. He is bitter that he is yet to get justice for the gruesome murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, his former private secretary’
Turning his face to the IG, Oshiomhole said: “The DIG frustrated the investigation using another senior police officer to thwart investigation. As I am talking now, that police officer has just been promoted by the police authorities. I demand that the DIG and that police officer be dismissed
immediately…I am aggrieved over the murder of my private secretary and the way in which it was trivialized. I am saying it knowing that the Vice President is here.” According to him, “I feel terrible that as a Governor, I can’t get justice. If I can’t get justice, then an average Nigerian cannot expect justice, and we can’t have justice if we can’t tell the truth… The country cannot be reduced to a banana republic. When the stick and carrot game is appropriately applied, the message of discipline would be clear to all.”
Giving an example of such culture of impunity, Oshiomhole cited a case. He said: “I want to be specific. In Edo State, a policeman manned an illegal roadblock, contrary to the orders of the IG. Members of the public complained and the fact of the illegal block was established. It was discovered that a soldier was recruited illegally by an ASP to man this illegal roadblock, extorting money from motorists. In my view, that borders on armed robbery because the man carries arms…Having arrested him, the Army proceeded to do what a responsible force should do by dismissing the soldier. IG, you will be shocked to know, and this is not 10 years ago that your men in Benin decided to shield this officer and, recently, I learnt that one of them was even promoted. While the military dismissed the soldier, the police promoted their own. How can you have discipline in such an environment?”
Last Friday, a day after Oshiomhole made his vitriolic attack, the IG dismissed as unfounded the allegation by the governor that the police was shielding the killers of his private secretary. The IG said that he would respond to the governor’s allegation at the appropriate time and in “due course”.
Yes, the IG is right to have refrained from delving into the details of that investigation and the role played by Gana. But this is surely one very hard nut that Abubaker would have to crack during his tenure as IG, otherwise he could plunge the entire service more and more into the abyss of public odium. For instance, how will the police explain the allegation that those it paraded are known armed robbers who had earlier been in police custody long before Oyerinde was killed? How will they explain the allegation that the gun allegedly used for the crime had been in police exhibit room long before the murder? The public is aware that the police is usually inclined to shielding his officers from public ridicule. But in this present circumstance, the IG should not put his image or job on the line by defending the indefensible. He should come out and tell the public the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Even if the conspiracy theory as propounded by the governor might be regarded as an overkill, the way and manner the security agencies went about their investigations without harmonizing their findings, leaves much room for suspicion and condemnation. It is true that the job of internal security as regards crime prevention, detection and prosecution is solely the concern of the police, but the refusal by the sister agencies to cooperate on the Oyerinde issue has further exposed the unhealthy rivalry within the nation’s security apparatuses. Instead of a synergy, they seem to be working at cross-purposes for God knows what!