By Abdulwahab Oba
The ugly incident that took place in Offa on April 5 will remain a big blot on the history of our state, not really because it was the worst, the most bizarre and daring robbery of its kind in recent memories but more importantly because of the wound it has inflicted on our collective psyche, the pain in our heart and the recent revelations indicating that the dare devil robbers were actually our neighbours. They are our friends; they are our brothers.
Ordinarily, one would have thought, with presumebly every sense of certainty, that the rascals came from outside to inflict their pain on us. Not a few of us would have imagined that it was an operation carried out by men we mix with on daily basis without knowing their true identities. The truism that it is the thief from within that shows his colleagues from outside how to rape a vicinity holds eternally correct. Surely, if there is no internal connivance, the external agents of death will not be effective.
And that is why we all were super excited with the police with their unravelling of the ugly faces behind the dastard act. Many of us were delighted that, for once, such robbery with huge loss of lives would not join a long list of unresolved cases in the hands of our police force. We were, and we still are, looking forward to the day that the law will have its way on not only these evil souls who wasted innocent lives in Offa and threw many homes into mourning, but also those perpetrators of many other unresolved killings. Nigerians are anxiously waiting for the killers of Dele Giwa and murderers of Uncle Bola Ige.
As is now well documented, our excitement over the police discovery was to be ruptured sooner than later by an apparently Nigerian factor; the apparently introduction of politics into the investigation of a serious crime. Our police suddenly began to make some theatrical insinuations linking the Kwara state Governor, Dr. Abdulfatai Ahmed and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki with the incident simply because the suspects arrested over the case claimed they were political foot soldiers for these two statesmen.
And merely because the police hierarchy had an axe to grind with Saraki, it began to make comical statements about the suspects and their purported confessional statements, presenting same to be gospel truth when in reality they have quietly diverted from the real task of unmasking the gang behind the robbery; their real sponsors and beneficiaries. At a time we should be dissecting the mind of Adikwu, the fingered armourer and gang leader, for casualty of such an unprecedented assault on the highly enterprising and industrious people of Offa, we’re dissipating energy on personal vendetta and ego boosting. How did Adikwu get recruited in to the Nigeria Police Force? How many more of Adikwus do we have in other security agencies? We have diverted to shadow chasing.
And the diversion is apparently working. Right now, little has been heard of the dismissed policeman who was initially celebrated as the brain behind the damage. The police confirmed this when they first celebrated his arrest. The suspects confirmed Adikwu, in the open and absurd parade, as their armourer. Where is Adikwu and his accomplice, Kayode Opadokun? How many of the stolen ammunition and money have been recovered? How do we prevent a reemergence of another Adikwu in our security agencies? These are the real issues and substance the police should be interested in.
But our police appears more concerned about linking the suspects to Saraki because at the time of his arrest he was wearing a cloth widely distributed during the wedding of the Senate President’s daughter! The police have told Nigerians everything the suspects allegedly said about their association with Saraki, and have concluded, even before interviewing him, that Saraki is guilty. For now, nothing has been said about the dismissed policeman who was said to have driven with arms to the robbery site and distributed same to his colleagues. Where did he get the arms? How long has he been working as a criminal after his release from the initial prison terms of three years? The police initially paraded some five vehicles as recovered from where the robbers abandoned them, where are those cars now? Who owns those cars? There have also been rumours of some serving policemen arrested over the incident but Nigerians have not heard anything about their case apparently because creating a criminal image of Saraki and Ahmed will serve more expedient political purposes than punishing the culprits behind the mass bloodshed of April 5.
The people of Offa are mourning. Kwara people are pained. Husbands and wives have been deprived of their love ones. Children have been orphaned. Friends and neighbours have lost their loved ones. Banks are closed and the economic activities of the state may never be the same again. How do we restore hope and confidence in the system? How will the state and federal authorities synagise once again for effective policing? Really, these are the challenges.
The Network of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, on Friday, June 8, in a statement signed by the national coordinator of the group, Comrade Victor Kalu, condemned the development, just like several well meaning Nigerians have done since the theatrical aspect of the police investigation began.
Let me quote part of their statement: “The Nigerian masses have always had to bear with incessant sordid controversies and confrontations between the senate and such agencies or departments at one time or another. These have occurred in manners and dimensions suggestive of calculated and seeming deliberate motives to make mockery and ridicule the leadership of the National Assembly….
“The rate at which opposing and dissenting voices are hounded as though we were in a military regime speaks more in agreement with those elder statesmen who had bravely accused and labeled the present administration as dictatorial. If this is allowed to persist, there are already fears that our nascent democracy and all that the Nigerian people had had to go through to get this far in achieving democratic civilization could be easily misconstrued and, possibly, lost. God forbid that Nigeria will drift back to dictatorship!”
The way forward? The police should perform its duty diligently. Many reasonable voices have pointed out that what the force is currently trumpeting as evidence will collapse easily under a judicial scrutiny. And we have reasons to take such counsel seriously. We have seen several instances where people whom the police claimed were seriously linked to a crime or the commission of a crime would go free because the purported evidence against such are paper weight materials that cannot last in the water of cross examination.
The apparent political dimension the case is taking also demands that the police be more transparent in every step of the case. One way to do this will be to produce key suspects such as the dismissed police officer and others and let Nigerians have access to their confessions. Or is it true that the man said to have provided the arms for the operation is dead? Some are also saying now that he has been severely injured during interrogation that he cannot walk or talk again. Making the investigation more transparent going forward is the only way in my opinion that can rescue the police from the stain of politics they have unnecessarily introduced into a serious crime.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org