The Osun State Police Watch has accused the police of murdering three young men who were detained at the Oja-Oba Divisional Police Headquarters, Osogbo, the capital of Osun State.
According to a letter written to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State by the group, the deceased — Tope Gbenga, 21, Olaide Adelu Okiki, 22, and Opeyemi Obaniwa, 23 — were kept in police custody for six weeks without being charged to court. When they were eventually arraigned, they had sustained bullet wounds.
“We write as members of the above named body to bring to your Excellency’s notice the extra judicial killing of three young men who were accused of cultism and armed robbery in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on the 26th of August 2021,” the letter read in part.
“By the time they were eventually taken to court by the police, they had sustained bullet wounds on their legs, which were curiously left untreated. The fourth suspect whose name was witheld had earlier been released by the police in a questionable manner, while the remaining suspects, with names listed above, were later (six weeks after their arrest) arraigned before the Osun State Magistrate’s Court presided over by Mr. A. Adeyeba. Because the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the kind of offences allegedly committed, they were ordered to be remanded at the Ilesa Correctional Centre pending the issuance of legal advice on the case by the Osun State Director of Public Prosecutions.”
The police claimed they were attacked by unknown gunmen while transporting the victims to the Ilesa Correctional Centre and the suspects sustained gunshot injuries in the process. According to the police, the injured men were transported to a hospital in the state, where they eventually died.
However, the bodies of the suspects were found in a bush, raising concerns that they might have been murdered by police officers who were conveying them to the prison.
Segun Idowu, a youth leader in Osun, told FIJ that he had many reasons to believe the suspects were victims of extrajudicial killing.
“Before those guys were taken to court, some of them were badly injured and their legs were decaying because they were not treated. Then the police claimed that they were attacked when they died,” he said.
Segun told FIJ that one of the suspects was released a while earlier, while the others were charged to court. He questioned the motive for this and explained that the mother of one of the victims said the police had asked for a certain amount to ensure her son’s release.
“It was during the process of finding out more that we got videos. People who were there said their bodies were found in the bush. This is contrary to what the police said that they sustained injuries and died at Asubiaro. That is why we are sending a letter to the government to ensure the death is properly looked into,” he said.
Segun’s claim of a video evidence was buttressed by Oluyemi Fasipe, a youth leader in Ondo State, who posted the video on his Twitter page on Tuesday.
When FIJ contacted SP Yemisi Opalola, the spokesperson for Osun State Police Command, she said there was an attack on the police officers conveying the suspects and that they responded appropriately.
“What happened is what I wrote. I do not know anything about that. I do not know anything about people who have killed other people, have confessed and have been sentenced. Some people came to attack the police. So, because we didn’t want the police accused of anything, they should have been watching and get killed?” She asked.