Operatives of Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested 12 suspects over an attempted murder of a tanker escort and the diversion of a tanker conveying 45,000 litres of diesel from Delta State.
The suspects were also allegedly involved in the diversion of a truck carrying 410 bags of flour.
The incident happened on February 1, 2017 when the diesel truck with the registration number ENU 751 XH loaded at Optima Depot, Koko, Warri in Delta State, was hijacked after some suspects hit the truck’s escort, Tunji Ajayi, with hammer at the back of the head and threw him into a ditch.
The diversion was reported at Rapid Response Squad’s headquarters in Alausa, Lagos, where police officials initially declined to take up the case over matters of jurisdiction.
But Fatai Owoseni, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, on hearing of the incident directed that the police swing into action immediately, noting that crime has no jurisdiction, the police said in a statement on Sunday.
The operatives in handling the case spent 11 straight days shuttling Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, and Edo states and picking up suspects allegedly involved in the diversion of the diesel and bags of flour.
As at Saturday, the police had arrested 23 people directly involved in the attempted murder of Mr. Ajayi, the representative of Samsuat Petroleum, the diversion, buyers and sub-buyers of the products.
The complainant, Nafisat Osinowo, in her statement at the RRS’s Office in Ikeja, stated, “the diesel was meant to be delivered in Sango, Ogun State. Our representative escorting the truck called me when they got to Benin that the tyre of the truck was not good in the afternoon.
“He called again at 11p.m. that the truck has been parked in Ore. It is our tradition not to travel at night,” Mrs. Osinowo continued.
“Our discussion was that they proceed on the journey at 5 a.m. the next day. That was the last time we spoke. Efforts to get him the following day proved abortive until few days later when we were called that he was in an intensive care unit at the hospital.”
The police said two of the suspects, Gbenga Akinboyewa, 33, and Obinna Ofunue, 29, were recruited by a syndicate in connivance with the driver of the diesel truck, identified as Amara (now at large) to eliminate Mr. Ajayi.
The trio had, at Ore at night, overpowered Mr. Ajayi before hitting him at the back of the head with a hammer, the police said.
They were reported to have thereafter dropped his body in a ditch along the road before diverting the truck with the 45,000 diesel.
The syndicate, led by Chibueze Nnamdi, a building material dealer in Ore, Ondo State; Edwin Ozor; Oluchukwu and one Shedrach, now at large; had reportedly raised N800, 000 to pay for the services of those engaged in the diesel diversion.
According to Mr. Nnamdi, “I invited Akinboyewa into the deal. I briefed him and he in turn invited Ofunue. The instruction we gave them was to tie the hands and legs of the escort and hide him somewhere so that within an hour, we would have closed the deal before he was loose. I didn’t say they should kill him.
“Biggy (Mr. Ozor) and I raised N800, 000 to settle the boys, lodge them in a hotel, feed and take care of other emergencies in the course of the job. We promised Akinbiyewa N500, 000 for his own aspect of the job.”
He disclosed further, “When we were in control of the truck, we drove to Ijebu Ode, where we discharged 2,800 litres. We proceeded to Lagos, where we offloaded 19,200 in one station, 14,000 in another and 8,400 in the last filling station.”
Those equally arrested in connection with the attempted murder and diesel diversions were: Sadiku Ganinu, Oluchukwu Oyema and Gbenga Aliyu, according to the police.
Meanwhile, the operatives have also uncovered that the same syndicate had, sometime last week, facilitated the disposal off 410 bags of flour believed to belong to Dangote Flour.
The police said one of the suspects, whose name was not mentioned, confessed that the syndicate had, a week ago, disposed a truck-load of flour.
The revelation prompted further investigations by the operatives, which led the RRS team to Sagamu, Ogun State, where the buyer of the flour, Rabiu Bello was arrested.
Mr. Bello, a kolanut dealer, had in his statement stated that one Mustapha (at large) brought the flour deal to him, adding that, he bought each bag of the flour N8500.
He further stated that he, in turn, sold the flour in Zamfara State at N9500 per bag.
Others involved in the flour deal and arrested by the operatives included Chigozie Obi, Feranmi Michael and Adedeji Kehinde.
Reacting to the incident, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, said the suspects would be charged to court upon completion of investigation.
All the suspects have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department,(SCID) Panti, for further investigation.