BENIN—FIVE police officers were arrested Saturday in Benin, following their alleged attempt to shield some suspected cultists from arrest.
This came as the crack team of detectives sent by the Inspector-General, Solomon Arase, to Edo State over the cult war in the state looked set to prosecute 11 kingpins of different cult groups, including a medical doctor, an engineer and some public servants for cultism, fingered in conspiracy and murder of 10 persons.
The five policemen were arrested by men of the IG’s crack team.
Vanguard learned that problem started at Oliha Market, where some youths engaged themselves in a free-for-all as two persons, including one identified as Castro, were allegedly stabbed, while several others, including market women, sustained various degrees of injuries.
It was further learned that the fight was part of the battle for the control of ticketing in the market by two different youth groups, one of which came with some police officers for protection.
However, after the fight, luck ran out on the policemen who escorted the youths to the market, as they ran into the men of the special squad from Abuja, who accosted them and insisted that their vehicle be searched.
Their colleagues in Benin informed the IG’s squad that they should allow the boys go. But the squad engaged them in a heated argument and eventually searched the vehicle.
Four cut-to-size guns and two short-barrelled guns were found in the vehicle.
Consequently, the IG’s squad accused their colleagues in Benin of being cultists since they were protecting the suspects and subsequently disarmed and arrested their Edo colleagues.
Vanguard learned that they were locked up at the state police headquarters on the orders of the IGP.
Attempts to get reaction of Edo State police command proved abortive as neither the Police Commissioner, Mr. Samuel Adegbuyi, nor the spokesman in the state took calls to their phones.
11 cult kingpins
Meanwhile, the IG’s squad is set to prosecute 11 kingpins of different cult groups, including a medical doctor, an engineer and some public servants for cultism, conspiracy and murder of 10 Nigerians.
Also, 98 other suspects, including students from higher institutions in the state, arrested by the police in connection with cult violence in the state, have been detained in the state.
They were said to have been arrested as they converged on Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, for an initiation ceremony.
Briefing the media on the update of investigations into cult killings in Edo State, Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the cultists and their gang leaders murdered innocent persons between April 5 and May 5 this year.
He said: “I am presenting before you some persons suspected to have played ignoble roles in acts of terror, vicious inter and intra-cult conflicts that have led to avoidable loss of lives and destruction of property in Edo State.
“The cult group’s membership is not limited to students but also include artisans, civil servants, businessmen, public office holders, and professionals.”
Giving a breakdown of some of the kingpins and the group they belong to, Ojukwu said: “Engineer David Olukoga, 36, is of the Eiye; Dr. Salako Adebowale, 43, Black Axe; Osunde Aigbedo, 48, is of Black Axe; Ahunwan-Id Orlando, 39, Black Axe, and Uche Chukwuma, 36, Eiye.
Others are Adebo Eguaoja, 46, Buccaneers; Totti Omonuwa, 42, Eiye; Earnest Amadasun, 49, Black Axe; Isobor Larry, Norsemen; Felix Evbodi, Black Axe, and Joshua Ehiabhi, 36, Jurist.
He listed items recovered from the suspects to include cultists’ sculptors inscribed with Eiye slogans, template guidelines of Black Axe, minutes of NBA black axe meeting held in Edo State in 2014, 17 All Progressives Party, APC, membership cards, 34 APC registration forms, one bag containing various NBM confraternity documents, among others.
Ojukwu said: “The successes recorded in the arrests and investigation of the cultist are clear testimonies of the dedication of the IG to promptly respond to issues of crime and criminality that affect the quality of life of the citizenry in every part of the country.
“The same level of intervention shall be deployed wherever and whenever the need arises.”
Asked to comment on allegations against them, two of the suspects, Dr. Adebowale and Engr. Olukoga, admitted to being members of some cult groups, but noted that they had never been involved in violence.
They said their involvement had always been to assist the police checkmate criminal elements and miscreants.
Adebowale said: “I joined in 1998. I never killed anyone. I was never involved in violence or terrorism. I came out to assist the police when I was arrested.”
Olukoga said: “Our confraternity is a registered body. We try to foster peace; it is also for the emancipation of the black race. We also do charity work.”