Following the story of the six-month old baby, Azeem Wahab, sent to his early grave amid the violence that erupted in Irawo in Atisbo Local Government Area of Oyo State between Wahab Idowu and loyalists of Ajoriwin of Irawo, Oba Musiliu Ademola, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Katsina, has vowed to unearth the circumstances surrounding the killing.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the suspects, especially the man identified as Ojo Baloosa, who allegedly took the baby from her mother’s back and flung him to the ground, have fled the town. But the state police boss said all machinery had been put in motion to arrest the suspects.
Though Oba Ademola has washed his hands off the matter, the CP said whoever was involved in the killing of the baby will have to face the wrath of the law.
He explained that the N10,000 he gave Idowu was his widow’s mite to reduce the loss he incurred especially his blocks that were destroyed during the crisis.
Wahab, victim, leaves Irawo
When the victim visited Vanguard office in Ibadan, he said he had left Irawo town for fear of further attack from his opponents. “I have to run away to avoid being killed. The attack on me, my wives and children was not expected. How am I sure that the attackers will not come back since they have a strong backing by the Oba. I am even living in fear where I am now. They have brought me down completely. My workers in the block-making industry too were attacked and they sustained serious injuries, ‘’ he stated.
Discussing the extent of damage, Wahab said it was better imagined than experienced. His words: “Do you know how much it costs to set up a well-established block-industry? What about the equipment and blocks they destroyed? Leave that, go to my guest house. After vandalising it, they burnt it. All the household equipment were in ruins. Leave that, look at myself now with all these injuries. Then, consider my wives, the dead baby and workers who were equally injured. What about the shame I was forced to suffer. I was beaten, dragged on the ground like a common criminal. The Oba even made a spurious allegation against me that I committed rape and breached the peace of the town. All these to justify why I had to be treated that way”.
Counsel to Wahab, Mr. Remi Alli, accompanied by another lawyer, Mr. Gbenga Olayinka, said his client had petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, over the incident.
In the petition, Idowu took exception to the way the case was handled by Oyo State Police Command. “Our client informed us that the CP declared that the matter is a family matter and that Oba Musiliu Ademola should go and resolve the matter at home by rebuilding our client’s properties. Our client further informed us that when the CP asked about the identity of the person who removed the child from the back of the mother, the king confirmed it was Ojo Baloosa but that the suspect had run away”, the petitioner said.
“The CP ordered that the suspect in the custody who our client had identified as one of the attackers be released forthwith. This was done and the suspect left.
“We are referring this matter to you relying on the integrity of the criminal justice system to correct palpable unconstitutionality and injustice in the handling of this matter by the Oyo State Police Command”.
When contacted by Sunday Vanguard, Katsina, the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, narrated his own side of the story.
He said, “There is a lot of declaration in terms of the alleged murder of Mr. Idowu’s baby and destruction of his house and other areas. These are the things I discovered; while other issues can be treated based on my authority as commissioner of police out of court, especially the issues of abuses and other things that may call conduct that will likely cause breach of peace, the other issues are beyond me. I mean the alleged murder of the baby goes beyond what I can settle in my office. So, I handed over that case to the homicide section with special directive to go all out and fish out the culprits”.
“The second issue is the vandalization and destruction of the man’s building. It is immaterial whether the man committed any crime or not. What is material is that some people took the law into their hands and this I directed for full investigation and, in the course of this interaction, the issue of voodoo came in. The law has no room for voodoo. So, we don’t believe in that and one other issue that came is that of the Oba claiming that the man does not give him respect.
“This issue, I see, is within my own authority to settle because, as a police man, I am also a champion of dispute resolution. I remember when I asked the boy, he now said because of the destruction of his property, he had nowhere to go.
Here, in this office, the Oba himself said he was going to initiate the rehabilitation of the victim by rebuilding his house. And I gave them a deadline and, in fact, I was moved with compassion because of the situation of that man; because it was nothing but a pathetic situation. And then my directive here was that no matter what we put in place for the rehabilitation of this man, that conduct will not in any way affect our ability to unravel the issues behind the killing of the baby and destruction of that man’s property”.
‘Preliminary investigation exonerates monarch’
Katsina went on: “The preliminary investigation of this case does not seem to indict the Oba as a physical participant in this case because allegation is one thing but, in law, he who alleges must prove his case.
As a police man, I must have the courage to stand as the temple of justice to ensure that I don’t allow sentiment or emotion to derail me from doing the right thing. So, I find myself first as a counsellor to bring out the rehabilitation of this man and then also as a security head with authority and mandate to investigate any act of impunity in the state.
‘Why I gave the victim N10,000’
In fact, to set the ball rolling, in my own little way, since we are all going to rehabilitate, please, everybody should contribute because if you look at the wives of this man, the one who lost a baby and many others, you will have pity for him because, how can you leave your community? And I decree here that the boy is coming to that community and nobody should raise any finger at him until the completion of this investigation.
A drop of water can make an ocean. So, I said, this is N10,000. I asked them how much does a block cost and they said N100. I said with this N10,000, I have bought 100 blocks for your house”.
Threat of prosecution
The police boss explained that if in the course of investigation, the police had a reason to indict the Irawo monarch,he will not spare any effort to ensure that justice was done.
“But the latest information I received from the village was that most of these boys have deserted the village”, Katsina stated.
“Also, you may appreciate the fact that wherever crime is committed, I don’t rest until I get there. Apart from me being a police man, I am a behavioural scientist. Any crime that remains permanently unsolved will not only become a continuous threat to the peace and security of the community, it will also become a permanent scar in the conscience of those charged with the responsibility to maintain law and order.
“That is why when I got here, most of the crimes we were able to solve were crimes committed before my arrival. As a police man, you start your introspect from the history of the situation because it is something that is circulatory because when they do and they don’t arrested, you embolden them to do more. And when you embolden them, they diminish your capacity to decide your own function as a law enforcement officer. That is why you have to dig and create a meaning out of a meaningless situation.
What happened to this baby is more pathetic because this is an innocent, totally defenseless human being.
Corpse may be exhumed
“We may even exhume the baby’s corpse because something must be done other than post-mortem that we know. So, we must exhume the corpse to have a real scientific touch under the corridor of pathologist.
This issue can be likened to what happened to my D.P.O. The moment you allow a group of people to take the law into their hands, to come out in a brazen manner, to not only disturb the peace of an area but to go the extent of inflicting injury on a particular person, or may be depriving them of their means of livelihood, depriving them of their lives, when you allow this to happen, you have to go back and take action.
“Like the case of my DPO that was killed at Adekile, Ibadan, I am happy that my officers adhered to my directives. I didn’t ask anyone to shut the market. But we remained there despite the odd and we were able to pick another set of suspects and I will still go there until I get the last suspect. It is when you create that atmosphere that the vulnerable would come out to enjoy the air of freedom because, as Nigerians, we are equal before the law. Whoever stands on my way, no matter how highly placed, anyway, nobody can try me, I will bring him to justice.
“As a policeman, the first is to do the right thing. Like what I did in this case, the first aspect of the grief is suffering and we should rehabilitate this man. Anyone of you can contribute, it is charity; put yourself in his position, you have lost your child, your house and everything and, today, you an internally displaced person(IDP), not by Boko Haram but by your own community. So, I have a big role to play.
First, to rehabilitate the man; second, to justify my pledge to you that everybody who commits crime will be brought to justice. Why I called them was to find out if there was a baby involved and now I have established that a baby was involved.
I called them to know if actually the baby died; yes, the baby died. From all these things put together, I am of the opinion that the police still need to investigate and establish some facts. That is our situation now”.