By Abdulwahab Oba
On the 2nd of October, Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, working with the Washington Post, entered Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and had never been seen again. Critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) who is just little above 30 years of age, Khashoggi was lured in to the consulate to pick up a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry, suspicious and uncertain about Saudi’s plan, Khashoggi went with his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. After patiently waiting for her love for an uncomfortably prolonged but excruciating hours, Hatice asked the consulate’s staff for his whereabouts. They told her Khashoggi had already left the building via the backdoor. And that began the shock that engulfed the world, especially the Muslim world which has found it difficult to explain that neither ISIS nor Boko Haram represents true Islamic ideology.
Saudi Arabia is supposedly the authentic, unadulterated philosophy of Islam. It is not just the custodian of the holy mosque, it is the birth place of Prophet Muhammad and the holy city where Muslim’s holy book was revealed. For a religion that codifies how even an animal should be killed, it is unthinkable that the crown prince of such an holy city will be mentioned in an illegal, unreligious, barbaric operation, talkless of almost being indicted.
While the Khashoggi’s saga is not the subject of this piece, the violation of human rights and the contradictory and unsatisfactory account of the dastardly act by the Saudi authority draws parallel with the Nigerian Police account of how the confessed leader and mastermind of the Offa robbery, Michael Adikwu, died. Hear Abba Kyari, a respected, hardworking, diligent, resourceful police officer: “This Offa Bank Robber/Dismissed Police Michael Adikwu we arrested as shown below clearly captured by the Bank CCTV Camera in Offa With his Ak47 Riffle during the Bank Robbery, Confessed to have Personally killed 22 Innocent Citizens on the day of Offa Bank Robbery is not Among the 5 Gangmembers Equally Arrested Who Publicly confessed before the Media to be Political Thugs to a Prominent Politician.
Notwithstanding that he confessed to have Personally killed 22 innocent Citizens on the day of the Offa Banks Robbery and the fact that he was previously charged to court for Armed robbery and was granted bail by the Court before he masterminded the Offa banks robbery. We still intended Charging him to court again before he got Sick and died.
Please Nigerians should be aware that Offa Bank Robber, Michael Adikwu is not Among the 5 that Publicly Confessed to be political thugs and all those 5 are alive and Charged to Court already. It’s important to clarify because some politicians are trying to twist the story to show that the Robber that mentioned them is dead to discredit the efforts and sacrifices we made in arresting these deadly Offa Bank Robbers.
We have nothing to hide and any form of Investigation can be done on the death of this notorious bank robber as we continue our unrelenting search for the remaining gang members at large”.
There is no doubting the fact that with his confession, Adikwu deserves the hangman’s noose. He does not deserve a place in any society. The fact of the pains and agonies Adikwu caused an unsuspecting nation, state and community makes it more expedient that his case be treated with highest level of professionalism. For a police that have consistently told the public that Adikwu was helping in the investigation of the case despite profound insinuation that he has been extra-judicially executed, to suddenly change the narrative, the uncoordinated disclosure that Adikwu fell sick and died cannot survive simple test of logic, especially given the apparent, but now clearly unnecessary political colouration the police had added to the crime.
The revelation in an open court is a confirmation of what the camp of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed have claimed since May this year, few weeks after the celebrated arrest of the suspect and his partners-in crime. Saraki and Ahmed had told Nigerians that Adikwu was dead, and that he did not just died but was actually murdered. The motive, they claimed, was to remove him from the scene and arraign only five people whom the police claimed were related to Saraki and through them, politically hang the crime on the duo.
That script still appears under consideration going by the feeble explanation offered by the police on the death of Adikwu. This is because even when the Attorney General of the Federation through the Director of Public Prosecution had told the police they cannot pin anything on either Saraki or Ahmed, the Force spokesman still went ahead to insist that Saraki was indicted by the alleged confessional statements from the five suspects now standing trial in the case.
And one is bemused that suddenly, the police has declassified Adikwu from being the principal suspect in the crime to being a ‘factional leader’, an apparent effort at splitting the criminals into two groups, and an attempt to create the impression that they were not working together even when their confessional statements, as made public by the police and the DPP report, clearly showed that the dead Adikwu conceived the crime and invited the others into its execution. Or were those statements made under duress? Is Adikwu no longer the armourer as claimed by the police? Who armed Adikwu and how did he get bail as claimed by the police? How many more of Adikwu remain in the system, especially in the police?
The ‘death’ of Adikwu raises more questions that go deep into the fabric of police investigation of crime in Nigeria. Assuming without conceding that as the police claimed the suspect ‘slumped and died’ in the process of interrogation, how come that this very important fact was not made available to the office of the Kwara State Attorney General which is to prosecute the case or even the public before now? Assuming the man truly died of natural causes, when did it happen? When he ‘slumped’ what efforts were made to revive him? Where? At which hospital was he certified dead? Which Doctor certified him dead? Was his family informed? Why has the police denied his death all this while? When the police knew he was dead, why did they allow the prosecution to still list his name on the charge sheet?
Was Adikwu shot in rage over the revelation that he personally killed nine policemen? Was he killed to frighten the others into making confessions to implicate innocent people? These are stories we hear often about the interrogation system of the Nigeria police. And there is even another suspect whose whereabouts has remained uncertain since his arrest over the incident. His name is Kayode Opadokun. What has happened to him? The police must come out clean. Being a political thug or political son, even if they are, does not translate to authority to kill. The fact that Kayode Opadokun chose to be what he is, does not convict his parents who ordinarily wished him well. His parents deserve prayer and comforting for the grief and agony they must be currently going through. Opadokun has sacrificed a lot for Nigeria. My prayer, even from this holy city of Makkah, is that may every parent not go through the Opadokun present trauma.
Definitely the time has come for a definite review of the system and our legislators must not shy away from this assignment. Equally our human rights activists must not remain silent on it. Innocent lives have been lost because of a system that gives the police an all-out power in the process of investigation. There must be a review. Being a crime suspect must not give the police power to kill someone at will.
I fully endorse the proposition by Saraki on the possible reforms that must be carried out in the police system following this unusual death of a suspect. I support the call for a board of inquiry that will, in the words of the Senate president, “help to further document and define the terms of handling of suspects in police custody and how to prevent extra-judicial killing of suspects, for whatever purpose. There is need for transparency in investigations into all cases and our methods should comply with global standards. We should discourage situations where police politicize investigations and deliberately set out to frame some individuals.
“We believe the answer to these questions will help the country to address the issue of human rights abuse, extra-judicial killing, manipulation of criminal investigation to achieve political end, deliberate attempt to cover up some facts and how skewed investigation of crime can impact on successful prosecution of suspects,”.
And the police said there is a post mortem result on Adikwu’s death. On this I laughed. How can they tell us that? Who conducted the examination? With whose assent? Why was it done? When you want to cheat a Yoruba man and he wants you to know he knows your trick, he will use a proverb: ‘who doesn’t know the trick to how to make a piece of meat disappear once inside your mouth?’
That is how we should respond to the police on this claim of having a medical report on Adikwu’s death. There are processes for post-mortem examination and if none was followed then let the police top notch stop deceiving us and just come out clean that they murdered a suspect. And they should also tell us why they did so and whoever was responsible must not be spared. Nothing must be spared to fish out whoever did it.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:email@example.com