It was a classic case of assassination plan gone awry. Some bad guys were allegedly hired by an aggrieved party to terminate the life of an opponent angling for a post he also was interested in the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Apart from monetary reward, he also promised them a lucrative slot in an oil company where he was a stakeholder.
At first, it appeared to be a done deal. But halfway through their bloody plan, police detectives threw at them a sting operation that had them in police net in no long time. They were all rounded up, the principal partner and his associates. Now in police custody, everyone is singing the I-am-not-one-of-them tune. Everyone of them is innocent of the crime except, perhaps, the devil that made them attempt it.
But their denials, accusations and counter-accusations are yet to remove anything from the fact that sometime in July, 2020, six able-bodied men gathered in room 108 at London Royal hotel in Sapele, Delta State. Now, all except the convener of the meeting claim that they do not know the agenda of the meeting. A promise of two million naira, a brand new house and a slot that will qualify them to receive monthly allowances from an oil company were on the table, if they could terminate the life of one Sunny Nwakego, a successful businessman and an NURTW officer based in the city.
But acting on a timely tip off, operatives of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) were able to thwart the plan. This later led to the arrest of the suspects including the convener. According to the confessions made by some of the suspects, Sunday Okoro, a former Niger Delta militant popularly known as G1 is the convener although he has continued to strongly deny the allegation. Others are: Amadi Onyekachi, Shedrack Neburogho, Alanco Silouko, Onyema Waya and Blessing Isaba. They were reportedly recruited for the dirty job, from Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States.
Chief suspect denies allegations
But despite their confessions, G1 has continued to insist on his innocence and to allege that the hired assassins were paid specifically to implicate him with a crime that he knew nothing about. Giving an insight into his life, he said: “I am married to three wives and blessed with 14 children. I am from Okiriwa community in Sapele and I was one of those who fought for the good of our community. This was how I was able to rise to the point that I became the chairman of our motor park under NURTW and was accepted as a contractor for one of the oil servicing companies. I have worked for more than 10 years. I run things in my community to the point that I am the one in charge of land allocation. I have a hotel, houses and businesses.”
He said as he tried to put a lie to the allegation against him: “They claim that I tried to kill the complainant but it is just a setup by one Shedrack who is envious of my position in the community. He was the one who shot at me and I lost my right eye in the process. The man they said that I wanted to kill is not from my community. He is an Igbo man known as Sunny who lives in my community. But he is also a leader in NURTW though at the national level. In the parks in our community we have an arrangement whereby we collect dues according to a schedule agreed by us. I have given him plots of land in my community for free because I am in charge of our land in Sapele.
“It is Shedrack who wanted to take over from me as the community youth chairman by force that paid the other criminals to lie against me. He was once arrested by the police; I was the one who bailed him out of the trouble. I have never seen these boys in my life apart from Shedrack who organized them. I am a big boy and do not need the services of dirty poor men like them. We did what we did during the era of agitation and that is over, which is why some of us got contracts from these oil companies in our community. With the type of money that I make from the community, I cannot carry gun again in my life.”
Other suspects insist on his guilt
His statement generated a drama-like scenario. On hearing that, Shedrack his accuser, shouted: “He is lying.”The man who claimed to be thankful to the police for busting their plan before it was executed, added: “I am 35 years and from Sapele Local Government, in Delta State. I am an iron bender and G1 is my friend. We have done a lot of businesses together and it was in one of our trips to Bayelsa that he called me and told me to arrange some boys for him that he has a job for them. I never knew what it was about until I invited Onyema and three others. We were in a hotel room arranged by him when he told us that he wants to assassinate Sunny Nwakego. His simple reason was that the man is oppressing him in the community. I was shocked because I couldn’t imagine me killing that man because he changed the life of my brother when he got a job for him with the present government. I pleaded with him not to go ahead with his plan but he insisted and the boys that I gave him later told me that he brought an AK-47 and a pistol which they were to use for the job. I prayed to God to save the life of that man because he is too handsome and kind to die like that. I know G1’s record and what he is capable of doing. I thought he has calmed down because five years ago he was one of the most feared youths in our area. This is one of the reasons those oil companies decided to work with him.”
Shedrack claimed that although he backed out of the plan, he was surprised when the police arrested him as a member of the gang. “I never knew that was his plan before I invited those others guys who came from Rivers State. I could never have been part of any group that would attempt to kill our breadwinner. I am happy that he was arrested before the plan to kill honourable Sunny Nwakego was executed.”
His view is corroborated by Onyema Waya who claimed that he was waiting for the final signal to go for the kill. He insists that G1 that contracted them. He said: “I am married with a child. I met Shedrack and G1 at Ahoada in Rivers State where I am based. Then I was into the sale of petroleum products on the black market and they were my customers. They used to bring some of those products especially diesel. Few weeks before the meeting, they came to Rivers State and asked me if I would like to visit Bayelsa. I told them yes and G1 promised to invite me over soon. Two weeks later, Shedrack called me to come to Sapele for a meeting. I felt it was oil business, so I did not hesitate. We were about four that he lodged at the hotel where the meeting took place. The name of the hotel is London Royal in Sapele. It was there that he told us that he wanted someone dead.
“He promised to pay me two million naira and to give me a car. He later changed his mind and said that he was going to build a house for me in Sapele. He also promised to register my name with the oil companies in the area so that they will be paying me allowance every month for doing nothing. I was happy and asked the other three who were my boys to listen to him and let me know the agreed time Sunny who is an Igbo man is sharing the money that is supposed to be his with him. If the man should die, he said, he would have enough money and slot from the oil companies. After the meeting, Shedrack told me that he was no longer interested. I went back to Rivers State to await further instructions. It was while I was waiting for them to call me that the police arrested me in front of my family. G1 cannot deny what happened in Room 108.”
Another suspect, Alanco admitted that he was one of those who were sent by G1 to monitor the movement of their proposed target. “I am a carpenter and from Isoko area of Delta,” he said. “It was Onyema that contacted me to come to Sapele for a meeting. We were lodged at London Royal Hotel where G1 told us the plan. I and two orders were given the assignment to monitor the target. At night, we met him in front of the hotel and he gave us N7000 and asked one of his boys to take us to his club. Our target was one man they all call “Honourable” and he is the owner of the club. He was not there, so the next day we met G1 and told him the update and he asked us to go back again. This time, he gave us N10, 000 and one of his boys to go with us. Luckily, the man was at the club that day, so his boy pointed him to me. He promised to pay us N2 million with an allowance slot from Shell that will make us be collecting money every month. He is dragging a position in the union with the “Honourable” and he wanted to be in charge alone. He told us that if he removed “Honourable” out of the way, we will have enough slot to go round. After we saw the man, the next day G1 took Onyekachi and one Osowe who is his boy and, we went to Romeo Hotel which belongs to him. Onyekachi who is an expert gun handler checked the guns out and ensured that they were in good shape. We were waiting at the hotel when police arrested us. G1 cannot deny us at this point. I thank God that we did not kill anyone, so no one will charge us with murder.”
Also insisting that GI is not as innocent as he is trying to make everybody believe, Onyekachi who claimed that he was the one who took care of the AK-47 and pistol that were brought for the job, said: “It was my brother, Onyema, who invited us. After the surveillance, we went to G1’s hotel where he brought one AK-47 and a Beretta pistol. One of his boys known as Blessing brought them to me and after cleaning them they were given back to him. Both hotels are in Sapele along Shell Road. I am shocked that when the trouble started he denied us. Instead he is saying that the man gave us money to implicate him. They should check the CCTV footage of the hotel. He works for Shell and he promised to give us slot so that they would be paying us every month.”
Blessing who admitted being his boy also claimed that G1 instructed him to bring the AK-47 from his car. He said: “I am 34 and from Sapele and I work with NURTW. G1 asked me to keep the guns inside his car. They are Beretta pistol with one AK-47. It was during the daytime at his hotel known as Romeo. He is my chairman at the motor park and he is the chairman of NURTW. I normally go to his hotel to enjoy my life. I was arrested because I was the one who saw the gun. He is my chairman and he gave me an order and I obeyed.”
Victim thanks God, police for being alive
But Sunny Nwakaego, the would-be victim is grateful to God for saving his life. Speaking with Saturday Sun in a phone interview, he said that he was shocked when he learnt that there was a bounty placed on his head. “I was lucky when I received an anonymous call alerting me of the plan,” he said. “I immediately wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police. He ordered IRT to investigate and luckily they got them all. I want to thank the IGP, Mohammed Adamu for his timely intervention in this matter. It’s only God that knows why G1 wants me dead. It is indeed true that people you know will be the ones to hurt you.”