Police DIG Replaces Murder Suspect In Prison With Innocent People

The period between May and August, 2017 was a time of trouble and tragedy for 33-year-old Segun Salami, a local resident of Ilagbo, a tiny community in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos.

In that period, Segun lost his father, Musiliu Salami and his friend, Sulaiman Akewusola, in a communal clash between Ilagbo and a neighbouring community, Oriyanrin.

Two months after the tragedies that shook his family and the entire community, Segun had hardly recovered from the trauma of those losses when he was arraigned alongside four others for arson and the murder of his father and friend.

But that is not the crux of his story. It would later emerge that Segun and his co-defendants, who spent three months in both police and prison custody were used as “replacements” for the actual suspects initially arrested for the crimes.

At the centre of these five men’s woes was the man who heads the highest investigating arm of the Nigeria Police, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Abuja, Mr. Hycent Dagala.

According to court documents obtained by Saturday PUNCH, Segun Salami alongside his four cohorts, knew nothing about the crime they were accused of.

Yet, on the alleged orders of the DIG, they were charged before Magistrate Oshin of an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court, Lagos on August 15 on six counts of murder, conspiracy and arson.

In the six-count charge, the police accused Segun, Samson Abimbola (49), Sikiru Egunjemi (52), Aliu Egunjemi (52) and Jimoh Ogunnupe (37) of arming themselves with “guns, cutlasses, axes, sticks and other dangerous weapons and unlawfully attacking and killing” Suleiman Akeusola, Musliu Salami, Seun Taofik and Shina Ipaye.

These were crimes the police accused them of committing on May 21 and 22, 2017.

By the time the facts of their case went before the Directorate of Public Prosecution in Lagos for advice, the DPP ordered their release immediately, noting that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the murders and arson they had been accused of.

That was not the only strange thing in the case of these men.

According to a petition by their lawyer, Mr. Sadiku Ibitayo, they were accused of crimes that were actually committed against them and their own people, while the suspects who committed the crimes were alleged ordered to be released by the DIG CIID.

The suspects released are  Hammed Sanwo, Tosin Adenuga Muro Yusuf, Adebola Jabaru, and Muse Arashi.

But how did a communal clash involving youths in a Lagos neighbourhood get transferred to Force CIID, Abuja rather than being handled by the Lagos State Police Command?

Saturday PUNCH decided to dig deeper into the matter, unearthing issues that eventually led to interests of some powerful people in choice landed property in the communities involved in the clash.

In a copy of the DPP advice dated September 25, 2017, obtained by Saturday PUNCH, the state’s Director of Public Prosecution, T.K. Shitta-Bey, said, “After carefully considering the facts available in the case file, this office is of the considered opinion that there is no prima facie case of conspiracy, murder and arson” against Segun and his four co-defendants.

On the other hand, the DPP explained that there were “sufficient facts in the case to establish case of conspiracy to commit murder and contrary to sections 233 and 223 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015 against Hammed Sanwo, Tosin Adenuga and Muro Yusuf for the murder of Sulaiman Akewusola and Adebola Alafa Jabaru, Muro Yusuf, Muse Arashi and Hammed Sanwo for the murder of Salami Musiliu respectively.”

However, despite indicting the latter group for murder, the police have made no attempt to arrest them.

Communal festival turned killing spree

On May 24, 2017, residents of Ilagbo gathered in the town square for the annual Kilajolu Festival. The communal celebration also involves the residents of Oriyanrin, Otolu and Itamarun, who all gathered in Ilagbo that day.

But trouble started when a youth from Otolu was reportedly flogged with a cane laced with charms during the festival

Saturday PUNCH was told that his manhood immediately became swollen.

Segun explained that he first noticed people running in panic around 3pm that day.

 “Before that day, youths from Otolu and Oriyanrin had problems which had nothing to do with Ilagbo.

“When the young man was flogged with the cane, we noticed that some youths were trying to foment trouble and we chased the boys we believed were responsible out of our community.

“But the youth that was flogged went back to Otolu to report to elders that he had been flogged with a fetish cane in Ilagbo. He did not know that he was flogged by Oriyanrin youths and the culprits had left.”

A youth from Ilagbo was said to have pointed out to the Otolu elders that the culprits were from Oriyanrin.

Segun said that day, his uncle, who had come for a visit from Ijebu Ode was travelling back, he was ambushed by Oriyanrin youths where he was waiting for a commercial motorcycle. They accused him of pointing out an Oriyanrin boy as responsible for the flogging of the Otolu youth with the charmed cane.

Segun said, “They beat him and he managed to make a call that he was being beaten by Oriyanrin youths. I rushed to tell our community elders and they delegated two older men and four youths like me to go and settle the matter.

“We had barely entered the community by 10 metres when the youths came out en masse with weapons like axes, locally made guns, machetes and cudgels spiked with nails and attacked us.

“I sustained a cut in the head from the beating while a friend of mine sustained an injury in his hand. We were the lucky ones. Sulaiman Akewusola was cut with a machete in the belly and his intestines spilled out.”

Segun said as soon as he noticed the extent of Akewusola’s injuries, he immediately alerted the others so they could rush him to the hospital.

He alleged that despite trying to stop a vehicle to carry his friend to the hospital, the youths from Oriyanrin allegedly threw stones and sticks at any vehicle that made an attempt to stop.

But after many attempts, they eventually got a vehicle which took them to a nearby hospital but not until Akewusola had lost a lot of blood. He died in the hospital that night.

The news of his death spread like wild fire in Ilagbo where elders delegated Segun’s 65-year-old father (Musiliu Salami) popularly called Matanle, to lead a team to bring Akewusola’s body home.

Shortly after Matanle left, news got in that he had been dragged out of the vehicle his team was travelling in and beaten to death by Oriyanrin youths at the same bus stop where Segun and the others had been attacked.

He was said to have told the two men with him to escape as he was taken.

Ilagbo residents alleged that Oriyanrin youths probably believed Matanle was leading a reprisal and mounted their own counter-attack instead.

For hours, residents of Ilagbo could not summon the courage to go and retrieve his body until later in the night when they got news that Oriyanrin youths were attempting to bury him.

“We took a torch that night and took a different route to avoid an ambush to reach the seaside where we saw them already burying my father’s body. When they saw us, they took to their heels leaving behind an axe and a cudgel that had nails on it. We quickly carried the body off to Ilagbo,” Segun said.

The body would later be taken to the police station where the case was reported. An autopsy on the body showed that he was killed with a stick that had nails on it.

Arson and more deaths

While this was ongoing, there was an arson attack on Oriyanrin allegedly carried out by some youths from Otolu, who earlier had a problem with Oriyanrin youths.

In the arson, two Oriyanrin residents – Seun Taofeek and Maliki Amisere – were killed.

The DPP would later reveal that the arson was carried out by people that are now at large.

“There are sufficient facts to establish a case of conspiracy to commit a felony: to wit arson, and murder contrary to sections 411, 341 (a) and 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 against Toheed Kasali, Odede Toheed, Folailu Ogunnupe, Oke Malole and others still at large,” the DPP advised the court.

Following these incidents, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police at the time, Fatai Owoseni, had  visited the warring communities, calling on their leaders to put an end to the communal clashes.

However, the police from the Akodo Police Division, arrested Hammed Sanwo, Adebola Alfa Jabaru, Tosin Adenuga, Muro Yusuf and Muse Arashi and four others for the murder of Matanle and Akewusola.

The DPP said, “Two eyewitness narrated how Alfa Jabar blocked the vehicle (of Musiliu Salami aka Matanle) with an SUV, dragged him from the car and beat him with a stick with nails on his head and he died at the scene.”

However, those indicted for the arson and deaths of the two Oriyanrin residents were nowhere to be found.

The nine suspects were transferred and detained at the Department of Criminal Investigation, Panti, Lagos.

Arrest orders ‘from above’

Few days to the arraignment of the suspects, two officers – Chike Nwabuwa (a Chief Superintendent of Police) and Daniel Attah (an Assistant Superintendent of Police) arrived Lagos, allegedly on the orders of the DIG Dagala and proceeded to Ilagbo to make arrests.

That was when Segun Salami, Samson Abimbola and Jimoh Ogunnupe were arrested.

Strangely, the men also arrested two men – Sikiru Egunjemi and Aliu Egunjemi – whose family are landowners in Oriyanrin.

Along with the initial nine suspects, they were all transferred to the Force CIID, a step the investigators at the DCI, Panti, found strange but had no authority to question.

Ogunnupe, a baker said he was surprised when the policemen came to his bakery alongside a local resident who pointed him out and he was bundled away.

“Before they took us to Abuja, they had accused me of using my vehicle to break a woman’s leg. I found such accusation to be strange because I had nothing to do with the communal clash apart from the fact that the people who died were my people.

“I asked them to produce my accuser and all they showed me was her photographer.”

The land connection

Two months before the communal clash, an investor, Mr. Peter Nwoseh, had bought three acres of choice seaside land in Oriyanrin from the Egunjemi family.

The day he started construction on the site, hoodlums reportedly came there to chase him away alongside Aliu and Sikiru Egunjemi – who are both secretary and head of the family.

Aliu and Sikiru were said to have petitioned the commissioner of police on this issue, while an investigation was opened on the matter.

According to their lawyer (Ibitoya), the same set of people who chased them away from the land were the ones suspected of killing Matanle.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that when the team from the DIG Dagala came to Lagos to transfer the suspects in the communal clash to Abuja, they also demanded the case file on the land.

 “The policemen said Inspector General of Police was interested in the case. I wonder how the IG would be interested in a land matter in a small community in Lekki.

“Nwoseh, who bought the land had joined Aliu and Sikiru to petition the police. When the Abuja officers came to Lagos, they were invited and whisked away to Abuja where they were also locked up.

“It was when they got to Abuja that they realised it was not the IG that was interested in their case but the DIG in charge of CIID. It became clear that the land matter was deliberately combined with the communal clash case to achieve an end.”

‘The DIG told me to relinquish my land’

Nwoseh alleged that while in Abuja, he was brought before the DIG Dagala alongside the Egunjemis who sold the land to him.

According to him, also at the meeting was the Baale of Oriyanrin and one Prof. Elias alleged to be a friend of the DIG. The professor allegedly owned some plots of land beside the parcel Nwoseh bought.

He said, “They told me Prof. Elias has a few plots beside my own. There was a man who owned seven acres there too. He had been bullied to hand over his land.

“The land is a choice area because it is a seaside property. They said they would combine the seven acres with my three and those belonging to Elias and share everything equally. They wanted to move me from where I am. They said they would put me in the middle, put Elias on the seaside part and give the other man the other side. I just shook my head and walked out.”

When the Egunjemis also shared their story, it became clear that if not for the DPP advice that secured their release, they would have languished in prison for murder they knew nothing about.

Sikiru told Saturday PUNCH, “When we noticed the encroachment on the land we sold, we reported the matter at Panti. We noticed that some people had sold it off. The police invited those responsible and they did not come. Instead, they went straight to the DIG in Abuja. We got a call inviting us to Abuja and the day we went there, they put handcuffs on our hands.

“We saw one of the murder suspects arrested in the communal clash there. He then told CSP Nwanbuwa that I was a killer using a gun to kill members of his community. I told them I did not even live in the community.

“We were eventually brought before the DIG and he asked if we would agree to collect the money in instalment repayment from the people who illegally sold the land that we had sold to Nwoseh. But we told him we did not want that since we already sold our land and spent the money.

He said if we did not agree to the terms, we should be returned to the cell. We said we preferred to be locked up and go to court where we would clear the matter.”

After a combined three months and two weeks in police cells in Lagos and at the Force CIID Abuja, they were brought back to the DCI, Panti in Lagos.

The nine actual murder suspects also detained at the Force CIID were allegedly ordered to be released by the DIG.

But to their shock, the Egunjemis were charged for murder alongside Segun (whose father is one of the murder victims) and Ogunnupe.

“We would have rotten in prison if not for the DPP advice that ensured our release,” he said.

 The DIG not my friend – Prof. Elias

Meanwhile, when our correspondent  reached out to Prof Elias to get his own side of the story, he claimed he wouldn’t remember the DIG, let alone connive with him to detain innocent people.

Elias also claimed he didn’t take anybody’s land.

“I didn’t take anybody’s land, not at all. There is nothing like that. All the lands I bought are in my name and I bought them a long time ago. I have the documents to prove that. If they have claim, they can try it in court.

“The case is all about members of a family fighting one another.  They are just mentioning names of outsiders just like me. They should resolve their problems among themselves, I don’t have anything to say beyond that.

“Which DIG? He is not my friend! He said there was some violence at the location and he invited everybody to come and say what they know. I had never seen him before that day, I am not even sure I can remember his name. I was doing some work in Abuja and I was invited, I didn’t want to disrespect him or his office, so I had to go. The other members of the extended family were also invited,”  he said.

Saturday PUNCH did not get a concrete response from the DIG when contacted on this story.

On Wednesday, Dagala said he could not recall the matter and requested for the section which handled the investigation so he could call for the case file.

One of our correspondents subsequently sent him the names of the investigating police officers – CSP Nwabuma and ASP Attah. He was also sent reminder SMSes  on Thursday and Friday morning, but the DIG had yet to respond as of the time of filing this report.

When the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, was contacted also, he promised to get in touch with the DIG but nothing was heard from him.


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