The Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), a coalition of civil society groups, has renewed its call for an inquiry into the murder of Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde, an activist, and Principal Private Secretary to former Edo State governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole. The call for in inquiry into the murder, which took place on 4 May 2012, was made in a statement issued by NOPRIN.
The statement recalled that Mr. Oyerinde was murdered by gunmen in his residence in Benin City, Edo State. "On this fifth memorial of the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, NOPRIN renews its earlier calls for a judicial panel of inquiry to independently, impartially and exhaustively inquire into this dastardly killing, to examine and review the contradictory reports of the police and DSS with a view to resolving the contradictions and identifying the actual killers of Olaitan and bringing them to
justice," NOPRIN said.
The group argued that its demand for an independent panel of inquiry is strengthened by the fact of emerging new claims. It noted that former President Goodluck Jonathan directed security agencies to uncover Mr. Oyerinde's killers and resolve other politically-motivated murders.
Two months after the directive was issued, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) at the time announced that four suspects had been arrested in connection with Mr. Oyerinde's murder.
NOPRIN also recalled that on July 12 2012, two weeks after the Edo gubernatorial election, the Police arrested one Reverend David Ugolor, Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice and close friend Mr. Oyerinde.
The Police, said NOPRIN, paraded Ugolor, claiming that he was "positively identified" as the sponsor. A few days after his arrest, noted the group, the Department of State Services, in Abuja, also paraded the sextet of Mohammed Abdullahi,
Raymond Origbo, Chikezie Edeh, Saidi Yakubu (aka Imam), Sani Abubakar and Hassan Bashiru. They were said to have confessed to carrying out the murder.
"After weeks of controversy, the police authorities formally charged 10 suspects to court. Two of the suspects, Rev. David Ugolor and William Iserhieren were discharged and acquitted by the court for lack of evidence, while the rest have remained in prison custody till date with their further trial stalled," NOPRIN said.
It added that inconsistencies in the Police report, as highlighted by the Edo State Director of Public Prosecutions and the discrepant investigation reports by the Police and DSS, undermined the effort to attain justice. NOPRIN said it expected that the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), would study the reports of the Police and the DSS on the murder, resolve the conflicts and give appropriate legal advice.
It added that it was more confounding that despite the wildly conflicting reports produced by the Police and DSS, the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions praised commended them.
NOPRIN noted that it has been making calls to the government since 2014 to set up an independent panel of inquiry to examine and review the reports of the police and DSS with a view to resolving the contradictions and identifying the actual killers of Mr. Oyerinde as well as bringing them to justice.
"NOPRIN's expectation and hope that President Jonathan would use this tragic case to demonstrate his commitment to ending impunity in Nigeria was dashed. On the fourth memorial of the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde in 2016, NOPRIN also called on President Muhamadu Buhari to set up an independent panel of inquiry. Again, this was unheeded. NOPRIN hereby renews this call and urges President Buhari to use this opportunity to sound a death knell on impunity in Nigeria," said the group.