By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
After more than 10 days in police detention, Chief Olusegun Oyiri, the Baale of Osokoro community in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos has broken down and wept like a baby in his desperation to get the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni order his release.
Oyiri and others were arrested by the police over the murder of an Inspector of Police, Sunday Musa who was reportedly tortured and buried alive by youths of Osokoro community in Ibeji-Lekki area of Lagos state. The incident happened when the late Inspector and other policemen were drafted to restore sanity in the community over a land dispute between the Onojomaja family and Ogunbekun family in the area.
The policemen, who were ambushed by irate youths, fled the scene of the riot except Inspector Musa who was unknowingly left behind. On why the Baale was arrested, a police source said investigation revealed that he was alleged to have ordered the youths to swear to an oath of secrecy not to reveal the location where the Inspector was buried. Also invited by the police was Oba of Lekki, Olumuyiwa Ogunbeku who gave his statement and was immediately released.
Plea for mercy
Pleading for mercy, Oyiri aged 61 lamented that he has spent more than 10 days inside police cell with criminals over the death of Inspector Musa. “I became a chief as far back as 1986 because it was my family’s turn to become the Baale of the community. So far, I can be adjudged by my community as a peace loving man. Luckily for us, Osokoro community has never experienced any kind of riot as a result of land dispute. We always find a legal means to settle every issue that comes up in the community.
“Late last year, the Amodemaja and Ogunbekun families started fighting over a piece of land and it became messy that they were attacking each other. The Ogunbekun family invited soldiers from Bonny camp to come and intervene. In the process, the soldiers attacked the Onojomaja family and arrested their sons at Ebute Lekki. Their mother, who is highly respected, informed former Justice Oguntade who went to Bonny camp and ensured that they were released on bail.
“In the evening of the same day, the youths who were angry over the illegal arrest started a riot. They went after the thugs that helped the soldiers to arrest those boys (Onojomaja’s male children). Naturally, the police heard about it and decided to help quell the riot.
“I was in my palace when I learnt that they killed a policeman. I asked them what happened and they all denied it. The youth leader insisted that they did not see any policeman during the riot neither was anyone killed. I thought the matter had died down till recently when the Oba of Lekki called me. He showed me about six names which he claimed were given to him by the police. He asked me to find those boys and question them properly.
“The six of them are from Osokoro community, that was why I was given the assignment. I called them and was shocked when they admitted that a policeman was actually killed that very day. They took me to the place where he was buried and also the location where his gun was also buried.
“I alerted the police and took them to the locations. I was happy that they have arrested the suspects only for the police to come to my palace weeks later and accused me of killing Inspector Musa. Check my record; I have been the Baale for more than 31 years without a single police case. I am a gentle and responsible man. A peace loving person,” he narrated.
When asked why he did not alert the police during the riot in November, Oyiri said that was his greatest mistake. “I heard that a policeman was killed on the day of the riot. It was carelessness on my part not to have alerted the police. I was foolish to believe them when they said that no one was killed.
“It is true that I am the leader of Osokoro community but it is not possible to control adults. I am begging the Oni of Lekki to assist me so that I will be released. He was only asked to write his statement inside the commissioner’s office and allowed to go home. If he is not in police cell, why am I here? Both of us helped the police to arrest the people who are responsible for the death of Inspector Musa. Please Oba help me. Please CP Owoseni help me. I did not order anyone to kill Inspector Musa”, he said weeping.