Embarrassed Nigeria Justice Minister, Adoke, denies Oyerinde murder “confusion”

Attorney General Mohammed Adoke says he will be attending a meeting against child sexual abuse in Belgium and won't be available for the Malabu probe

Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, has vowed to sanction an official who said government was confused.

Nigeria’s Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke, has spoken of his “embarrassment and shock” after a senior official of the ministry told lawmakers on Wednesday that the government was “confused” with investigations into the killing of Olaitan Oyerinde, former aide to Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.

Mr. Adoke, on whose behalf the official spoke, on Thursday scrambled a letter to the House of Representatives Public Petitions Committee, which is investigating the matter, denouncing his staff, the Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, O. T. Olaitigbe’s comments.

“I am shocked, embarrassed and utterly disappointed by the representations reportedly allegedly made on my behalf by Mr.Olaitigbe,” Mr. Adoke wrote in a sternly-worded dispatch.

He vowed sanctions against the official, or any other, found to have deliberately provided “false” testimony about the case to the lawmakers.

“I have accordingly instituted an internal investigation to unravel the mystery and appropriate measures will be taken to discipline any officer found wanting in this deliberate propagation of falsehood,” the minister said.

Mr. Olaitigbe’s remarks were the highlight of Wednesday’s hearing that drew several testimonies exposing how frustrated the police and justice officials have been in investigating Mr. Oyerinde’s killing.

The police have been accused of conducting a staged investigation, and parading fake suspects and weapon drawn from its custody to soothe the public.

Its suspects were different from those presented by the Department of State Security, SSS, which also probed the case.

A previous report by PREMIUM TIMES highlighted how the probe was fabricated by the police.

At the hearing on Wednesday, the force representative, Peter Gana, a Deputy Inspector General, DIG, of Police, who supervised the investigation, gave insights that somehow affirmed those findings.

The investigations were carried out without autopsy, and without ballistic tests, Mr. Gana said. He admitted the force had conducted its examination unprofessionally, but blamed the lapses on low-ranking officers who investigated the case.

In a detailed account, the Justice Ministry representative, Mr. Olaitigbe, spoke of how the ministry became “confused” and could not commence prosecution when separate reports were sent in by the police and the DSS.

Mr. Adoke said Mr. Olaitigbe strayed from his brief on the matter; a comment suggesting the ministry may have intended for a coated presentation certainly different from the truth.

“I wish to completely disassociate myself from the comments purportedly made on my behalf by Mr. Olaitigbe as the comments were at best, a figment of his imagination and very far from the truth,” Mr. Adoke said.

He claimed his instructions to the director were to inform the lawmakers the ministry considered it the responsibility of the police, not the SSS, to investigate murder.

Again, the ministry would not act, he said, since the case concerned, was under state edicts, and in this case, was receiving attention from the Edo State Government.

Neither the Edo State Government nor the Federal Government has filed charges on the case since the impasse of different suspects between the police and the SSS.

Mr. Adoke’s letter did not mention any briefs or instructions from President Goodluck Jonathan, who ordered the probe.

Still, without progress on the case nearly a year after, he assured the House committee and the public, “that my office was never at any material time confused as to the steps to be taken in this matter.”

“I sincerely regret the misrepresentation and the apprehension that it has generated in the minds of Honourable Members of the Committee, as well as the general public,” the minister said.

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