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Suspect who killed my wife and children must not go free – man begs LASG

... Eye witnesses have refused to make statements - Police Source

Joy Anyim

Taiwo Omonitan, husband to the mother of four who was set ablaze with her three daughters in Lagos, have called on the State Government and all concerned groups to ensure that the suspected killer of the deceased persons does not go unpunished.  

His call follows what he termed ‘the continued reluntance’ of eye witnesses from the scene of crime at NO. 9 Oke-Abiye Street, Powerline  to make any official statement to the police or even stand as witnesses in the matter that is currently in court.

Recall that Omonitan’s wife, Gbenke and his children- Esther, Ayo and Nifemi- were allegedly set ablaze by Shola Adewunmi, a motor mechanic and a said member of the O’odua People Congress on December 17th,  2018.

Adewunmi’s action follows a rejection of his love proposal by 19 year old Esther. The suspect who is a neighbour of the deceased persons had in anger promised to deal with the teenage girl and her family.

To make good his threat,  he had on the said day, stormed the shop where Gbenke sells cooked food, poured petrol on the deceased persons while they were relaxing in the shop and set them ablaze.

Gbenke and her three children died as a result of complications from the burns. The matter was first reported at the Alagbado Police Division, where a Police team was mobilized to the scene of crime. A phone belonging to Adewunmi was found at the scene making him the prime suspect.

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Adewunmi had also fled the area after the alleged action but was later arrested and the case transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Yaba.

According to Omonitan who said he was away at work in Ajah when the incident happened, neighbours who said they saw Adewunmi when he had gone to buy the petrol and when he was running  away have refused to come forward to make any formal statement to the police.

“ The Police team handling the matter at SCIID had told me that merely seeing Adewunmi’s phone at the crime scene was not enough evidence to nail him to the crime.

“They said those who claimed they saw something should come forward to make statements.

“I have been pleading with those who witnessed the incident that day to follow me to SCIID to make statement but they have all refused saying they don’t want to go to the police office. I even offered to pay their transport fare but they refused.

“They are insisting the Police should come to the area and take their statements. When I told the police what the eye witnesses said,  the police said they cannot come there.

“I even went a step further to plead with the Police to give me statement forms to take to them which they police did.

“I went there,  handed them the forms but they all refused to write anything saying the police have to come to take the statement by themselves.  I am tired and I am confused.

“ The suspect have denied the act and the police told me that if there is no witness in the case, the court may throw out the case and the suspect will walk away a free person.

“I am calling on the government,  anybody or group of persons that can help me get justice for my loved ones. Their death must not be in vain.

“My late wife even said she saw the suspect’s face when he poured the petrol on them. He has to pay for what he has done,” he said.

The Nigerian Xpress also contacted the  lawyer who is standing for the deceased persons, Barrister, Awoseye Collins for comments. Collins  who spoke via a telephone conversation lamented the attitude of the said witnesses.

He stated that such actions were one of the reasons why it is difficult to reduce crime in our society saying,  “ It is so bad that in a society where we are trying to get rid of criminalty, people are afraid to give evidence that can help.

“I have decided to go to the community with the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) but the officer said he is chanced only on Sundays and my schedule has also been tight lately.

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“If they are acting this way to just make statements, how can they be able to give evidence in court.

“ We even have limited time to act because the file has been duplicated to the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for advice. If we cannot get their statement before DPP advice is released, then the case is lost.

“I am pleading with the community, those who saw anything suspicious to please help us get justice for the dead.

“We need the additional proof of evidence to get to DPP before the next court hearing on March 7, 2019. They should come forward and give evidence.”

A source at SCIID who spoke in anonymity disclosed that a team of policemen had visited the crime scene while on investigation activity.

He said the police team had educated the people on the need to come forward and tell the police whatever they saw but had not gotten any meaningful response from the community.

“The day the police team went there,  they advised those around to come to the police and say whatever they had seen and that their statements will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

“Only two persons came to make statement but their statement is not strong enough to nail the suspect to the crime.

“ It was even after the police team left that the husband of the deceased was saying there were others there who actually saw the suspect perpetrating the act but were afraid to come forward.

“The police team got angry because if Omonitan had showed them those persons,  they would have know how to go about it.

“ To say a policeman should now go to the area again for them to make statement is not possible.

“They have to come to us. Here at the SCIID, personnel are very busy, the general elections are here too, hence it will be difficult to even go there. All attention is on the election as most of us are on one special duty or the other.

“ It even baffles me why they are afraid,  they are not the ones that committed the crime, all they are asked to do is to put in writing what they saw and they are afraid,” he said.