Offa 33 – The Nation

  • The blood of the April 5 armed robbery victims cry for justice

On April 5, an audacious gang of armed robbers romped through Offa, in Kwara State, and massacred no less than 33 victims, including nine policemen on bank guard duty, pregnant women on legitimate banking transactions and other luckless souls.

In a blitz of sheer savagery, never before witnessed in that town, the robbers swept through the following facilities, showing supreme contempt for both the Nigerian state and ill-fated citizens, caught in the cruel web: Divisional Police Headquarters in Offa, which they sacked to corral choice arms in its armoury, which they then used to plunder a rash of banks in the town: First Bank, GT Bank, EcoBank, Union Bank and Ibolo Micro Finance Bank. For Offa, it was hell itself sweeping through, leaving behind endless wailing and gnashing of teeth.

After some investigations, the police arrested some suspects: Ayoade Akinnibosun, aka AY, the alleged coordinator of the bloody heist, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez, Niyi Ogundiran, Michael Adikwu, Kabiru Afolabi, Omoseni Kassim, Kayode Opadokun, Kareem Abdulrasheed, Azeez Abdullahi, Adewale Popoola, Adetoyese Muftau, Alexander Reuben, Richard Buba Terry, Peter Jasper Kuunfa, Ikechukwu Ebuka Nnaji, Moses Godwin, Femi Idowu and Adeola Omiyale, all alleged members of the Akinnibosun gang. Among them, they allegedly slay the 33 and wounded many others, in the course of looting the banks and carting away money estimated at millions of Naira.

But aside from the gang, the police also made arrests linked to extant Kwara State political establishment, accusing this batch of suspects of alleged or attempted cover-up of the crime.  Under this suspect category is the pair of Alabi Olalekan, personal assistant (political) to the governor of Kwara State and Yusuf Abdulwahab, chief of staff to the governor of Kwara State.

According to the police, Olalekan allegedly directed one Adeola Omiyale to drive a Lexus jeep, allegedly used during the robbery, to the safe haven of Government House, Ilorin, and also switching the specialised number plate: “Saraki: Kwara, State of Harmony,” and replacing it with another number plate: “Kwara KMA 143 RM”, registered in the name of Ayoade Akinnibosun. For that allegation, the police had hauled in both Olalekan and Yusuf Abdulwahab, though there are indications that the governor’s chief of staff may have been out on bail, pending the commencement of trial.

Akinnibosun claimed his gang included Senate President Bukola Saraki’s political fixers and enforcers, claiming their initial firearms were procured for them by the Senate President, though he added he never prompted them to rob, but admitted that they felt if they did, they would be covered and protected by their powerful political patrons.

But both Saraki and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed had denied any link with the robbers or any idea about their nefarious operations. The governor reasoned that neither his person nor his government could be blamed if some allegedly misguided youths turned their empowerment into evil deeds. Saraki himself claimed his link to the robbery was an umpteenth ploy, by the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, to get him at all cost, for political reasons.

But while all these claims, counter-claims and denials are natural and expected, what is intolerable is the failure of the police, so far, to dock the accused persons, months after sensationally parading the principal suspects in front of the media, claiming it was making good progress in the investigations.

That perceived tardiness has led not a few to start speculating and swearing to conspiracy theories; that there are alleged ploys to scuttle the case, because of its link to some Kwara State political heavyweights. That had better not be!

The police are welcome, if they are still crossing the “t”s and dotting the “i”s, in building a tamper-proof case, to secure conviction and do justice to the slain, the maimed and the psychologically smashed, as a result of the Offa orgy of killings. Even then, time is of essence for the killed as the relations can’t wait forever.

But let no one — we repeat, no one! — try to scuttle this case. Felons that raid lawful armoury to visit lawful citizens with mayhem must pay a hefty price. That is the only way to return and retain societal sanity.

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