A confessed cultist, Abdul Ganiyu, is facing grave charges of murder, robbery and illegal possession of gun as police alleged he was part of a notorious gang that operated across the three states of Oyo, Osun and Kwara. Ganiyu, who paraded himself as a one-man vigilante gang, is finding it difficult to explain how he came into possession of an AK-47 rifle.
Detectives attached to Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) who nabbed him in Ibadan, Oyo State capital insisted that the facts before them showed he was a fugitive wanted in Osun and Kwara states. His name, police declared, kept popping up in the course of extensive investigations of several armed robbery cases that took place in the two states.
Arrested with him was another cultist, Kehinde Adetunji, in whose possession a locally made pistol with live cartridges was recovered.
Implicated in past crimes
According to sources, Police on October 14, 2019, received information that some suspected criminals linked to the robbery of Polaris bank in Osun State were sighted in Ibadan, Oyo State. The intelligence gathered gave a picture of the nefarious activities of the gang since their disappearance from Osun. They had relocated first to Ilorin where they allegedly attacked another bank in the Kwara State capital, and thereafter, moved to Ibadan where they had started raiding houses and attacking motorists. They were tracked down in Ibadan and nabbed rather red-handed as they were rounding off sharing the loot from a traffic robbery.
From the home of Adetunji, the second suspect, was found a locally made pistol with two live cartridges. He had led detectives to the house of Ganiyu where an AK-47 rifle was also discovered. More facts emerged from their interrogation, notably, their claim to be members of Aye Confraternity, a notorious cult group in the South West. Abdul Ganiyu, who turned out to be the group’s second-in-command, admitted killing a victim identified as Seyi in the past.
Both claimed to be members of a local vigilante on their street in Ibadan. Of the Ak-47 found in his room, Ganiyu swored he recovered the gun from a fleeing robber and decided to keep it for personal use. Some of their stories were, however, debunked after further investigation.
Unconvincing gun stories
The suspect, Abdul Ganiyu, a native of Oyo township, told the police a long story.
He said: “I am 37. I was living at Liberty Road in Ibadan when police arrested me. I attended Kwara State Polytechnic where I read Public Administration in 2008. I got a job as a casual worker as a printer at Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). I was never promoted or employed as full staff so I decided to resign. Meanwhile, while I was in school, I was initiated into Aye Confraternity in 2004. My cult name is Asalailu (a corruption of Azra’il, the apocryphal Angel of Death).”
He continued: “After I lost my job, I became active on the street. I grew in rank and became one of the trusted persons sent out by our group when there was a need for revenge. Last year, a rival cult killed our member called Sule. We avenged his death by killing Seyi and Police declared us wanted, so I fled from Kwara to Ibadan (Oyo State). I rented a room in Ibadan and hooked up with some of my cult members in the area. This was how I met Kehinde (Adetunji). We tried to join the area vigilante, but they refused. These bad boys were breaking into houses and escaping before the vigilante people or police got there. Since I know a little about security, I decided to become a one-man vigilante. I have a few boys in the area who normally helped me to patrol the area. The vigilante people know me, although I am not their member. They were envious that my street is suddenly safe, that was why they told police that I could be one of the criminals disturbing the area.”
He explained his involvement with a firearm: “Initially, I got a toy gun and wrapped it very well. If I hear any kind of noise, I would release fireworks which would be mistaken for real gunshots. Sometime in August 2019, the robbers invaded our area again. Everyone pursued them. It was while I was heading back to my house that I saw the AK-47 that they mistakenly dropped while running. I picked it up and wanted to hand it over to the police but I realized that I did not have a weapon for my vigilante work, so I kept it my house.”
He swore that he had never used it or given it to anyone to use.
“I never knew that some of my boys were coming to take and return it,” he claimed. “I was surprised at the police station when Kehinde confessed that he knew where I kept it and in fact, took the police to my house to recover it from where I hid it.”
The second suspect, Adetunji, claimed to be ignorant of the pistol found in his room. “I do not know where police got that gun from; maybe some of these bad boys used my house as a hideout,” he said. “I am a member of Aye and the much we do is to harass people for small money. If they do not want to give us, we willingly let them go.”
He added: “I live among young men and I cannot control what they do. Some of them normally come to my house to sleep because they do not have a home, it could be then that they dropped the gun in my house.”
On Ganiyu, he said: “He has begged them severally to allow him to join the vigilante group in our zone but they refused; this is why he decided to do it by himself. I am not even aware that he has an AK47 in his house.”
Plea for clemency
With the array of evidence police have gathered against him, Ganiyu should know that this is an open and shut case. He was however adamant that he was not among those that robbed banks in Osun and Kwara. “I only heard about it while I was still in Kwara. If I was part of them, I will not be broke because, those that participated got millions as their share,” he stated.
Nonetheless, he begged for mercy and a second chance: “I used to be an active member of Aye, but that was in the past. I have repented and ready to serve. I am good at handling guns and will like to be a policeman or vigilante. Please take the AK-47 and let me go. I do not believe all these things they are saying to make me look like a criminal.”