The police has a lot of questions to answer on the death of Offa robbery prime suspect, Michael Adikwu.
I was out watching birds nestle and chirp near a windy beach from the Pulse office penthouse, when my phone sprang to life.
It was a WhatsApp message from one of my numerous contacts. The text had no hidden meanings from the first paragraph:
“Police say principal suspect in Offa robbery attack is dead”, read the title. It was all I needed to end my mid-afternoon bird-watching and make the dash to my laptop downstairs to file and update the story.
The prime suspect being referred to here is one Michael Adikwu, a dismissed police constable who vowed to haunt the force after his disgraceful exit in 2012.
Adikwu was known for his blood-thirsty, trigger happy and dare-devil disposition. Those who knew him say he just loved to kill humans for the fun of it.
In June, an unnamed police officer who spoke to Punch newspaper described Adikwu as “a former SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) operative at the Kwara State Police Command. He used to fraternise with robbers. There was a robbery that happened in Kwara State about six years ago. The robbers killed somebody and escaped. The police were able to arrest those robbers.
"He collected money from those robbery suspects and released them. Later, the robbers were rearrested and they confessed that he aided their escape. He was arrested, tried in an orderly room trial and dismissed.
"He was charged to court together with the robbery suspects and was in prison for three years. He and some of the robbers were able to manoeuvre their way out of the prison and formed a robbery gang."
From the quote above, we can conclude that Adikwu was allegedly a very dangerous armed robber who leaned on the knowledge of inner workings of the police to wreak havoc on the society and strip people of their belongings; even if it meant ending their lives from point blank range.
One of the 12 suspects in the Offa robbery of April 5, 2018 said it was Adikwu who killed all the police officers watching over the banks on the day.
Suspect Ibikunle Ogunleye, aka Arrow, says Adikwu always told the rest of the gang that he had an axe to grind with the police for sacking him. “The dismissed police officer, Michael (Adikwu), was shouting that day that the Nigerian police dismissed him, that they collect job from his hand, that he'll do them shege. That was the language he used," Arrow says.
Another suspect identified as Ayoade Akinnibosun says Adikwu was the kind of gang leader who handed out rifles to everyone else.
“Michael came down from one Audi, there was a Nissan parked in front of us, he now came out of that Audi and threw his hands; we now saw him and parked at the back of that Nissan. He now came out and brought guns out of that Nissan, five AK-47s, and gave it to us. Then I shared it between the five of us inside our Benz", says Akinnibosun.
Which begs the question: Why have him killed in police custody when he appears to have all the answers to the Offa robbery conundrum? Why kill the one suspect who, according to the police, was beginning to sing like a canary and who could help unravel the robbery case?
According to police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, the biggest gang leader was Akinnibosun. It was Akinnibosun who named Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, as sponsors of the robbery gang, the police say.
In any case, Adikwu perished with perhaps the biggest clue into unlocking this country’s biggest robbery case in a long while.
It is trite in investigations of this nature that the principal or prime suspect be protected at all cost because he could come in handy as a star prosecution witness when trial commences. Why did the police allow Adikwu to die? How did he die? Was Adikwu’s death politically motivated? Did he die of natural causes, gunshot wounds? And why did the police initially deny that he was dead until it was time for his court appearance?
In a nutshell, no one would have wanted Adikwu dead at this point unless they wanted to mess with investigations, which is probably what has happened.
The Offa robbery was riding on plenty of political current, with Senate President Saraki already quizzed about what went down in his home state on the day. But when suspects begin to drop dead or disappear, it may well be time to yell the following words at the police top brass: “What the hell is going on?”