Until the Nigerian people rise up stoutly and help in identifying the killer [or killers] of Alhaji Ahmed Gulak; the ebullient politician that was killed in Owerri – the capital of Imo State, on May 30, 2021, the Nigeria Police Force; an organisation statutorily encumbered with the responsibility of doing the work, will fail to get the actual killer [or killers] of the politician apprehended.
The reason for this call is the fact on ground; which suggests that the Nigeria Police Force’s starting point into the investigation of the killing was on faulty premise. And by starting on a wrong path, there is no way it [the police] can correctly present a factual final report on this matter. We need to understand the trajectory of the Police’s erroneous starting off point. First, let us say a word about the assassinated politician.
He was the Honourable Speaker, some years back, of the Adamawa State House of Assembly. He later became Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan in different capacities. And he remained in politics – albeit partisan, until his death.
We have been told by both the President of the Nigerian Senate; Senator Ahmad Lawan, and his deputy, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, that the journey that took him to Owerri in Imo State, where he met his waterloo was political – albeit as a Consultant to the Nigerian Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment.
Of most important note that we should not forget in hurry was a particular political assignment he was given to carry out in 2019, by the ruling All Progressive Congress [APC]. Ahmed Gulak was the Committee Chairman of Imo State APC Primary election in 2019, where he declared Senator Hope Uzodinma the governorship candidate of the party amid confusion.
The confusion that followed that exercise was premised on two grounds. The first ground being the fact that his [Gulak] Committee was accused of being biased against the then incumbent Governor of the State; Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, who had prepared his son-in-law – Nwosu, to take over from him as the next governor of the State. The Okorocha’s camp even accused Gulak of manipulating members of the Primary election Committee into arriving on the choice of the politician said to be elected at the Primary – Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The second ground is as important as the first one. Ahmed Gulak [the chairman of the Primary election Committee] himself, “escaped from Owerri in the middle of the night”, to return back to Abuja, alleging threat to his continued safety in Owerri. The report of his Committee on the candidate that won the Primary was eventually written in Abuja, and not in Owerri.
There was even a third ground, and that was the controversy of US$500,000 bribe said to be “demanded” by the then National Chairman of the APC, and allegedly “paid” by Okorocha. It was an allegation controversially laid by the Owerri “power-control-engine-room” of that time and debunked “stylishly” by the then National Chairman of the APC – Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Presentation of these facts is necessary for three cogent reasons. The first reason is that the Chairman of the Primary Election Committee of the APC in 2019 did not come out of that Owerri exercise “clean” – but this is a common occurrence in the Nigerian political murky waters.
Two, both the looser and winner; Rochas Anayo Okorocha and Hope Uzodinma, in the 2019 Imo State APC Primary Election, would always had stake on the chairman of the Committee specifically and the Committee generally. The situational interjectory of the Primary election’s conduct and its consequential results would always establish one fact, more so when allegation of [likely] bribe demanding and [likely] bribe accepting were made, to wit: either the looser did not play appropriately or the winner offered something more lucrative.
And what is bribe? Simply defined – it is a gratification given before or after an obligation must have been rendered. It – the gratification – could come first [post-natal] or later [anti-natal]. This interpretation which lays emphasis on before or after an obligation must have been rendered, should be enough to push frontiers of investigation to another dimension. Could it be that promise of payment made then, in 2019, was yet to be fulfilled in 2021; which probably would have necessitated another journey back to Owerri?
Thirdly, and this is far more important at all material times, is that Ahmed Gulak; the Chairman of that exercise, was assassinated, two years after that controversial exercise, in Owerri – Imo State.
It is for these reasons that investigators into Ahmed Gulak’s assassination should have turned listening ears to the events of 2019, as a possible seed of “intent” might have been sown there and then. But the Police did not “walk this path”, before submitting the report on the killer [or killers] of Gulak. Let us dig a bit deeper into the modus operandi of the Nigeria Police Force in tracking down Gulak’s killer [or killers], and we are doing this on the strength of the report the Police submitted.
Ahmed Gulak was killed on a Sunday on his way to the airport, from the hotel he stayed, and in a cab – probably a cab hired from the hotel where he stayed. According to the report, he was casually dressed, wearing a jeans trouser, a T-shirt and with face cap. And of that Sunday morning when he headed back to Abuja through the airport, members of the Senate Constitutional Review Committee were still in Imo State – in fact they were there almost through the week.
This is a puzzle for few reasons. One, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate announced that Gulak died on “national assignment”, because “Ahmed Gulak was in Owerri in his capacity as a Consultant to the Senate Constitution Review Committee”. If he was in Owerri in his capacity as Consultant to the Constitution Review Committee for that zone, why was he leaving when the assignment that took him there was still ongoing?
The Imo State Governor; Senator Hope Nzodinma alluded to this when he said that “Ahmed Gulak was in Imo State for a national assignment. He came to Owerri with the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment. Being a humble man, he chose to travel incognito according to his friend who was with him”. Who was that friend that was with him? Or could the friend be Hope Uzodinma? Did Gulak meet with the Governor – Hope Uzodinma, at all in that journey incognito?
Politicians on national assignment in Nigeria are well known for their flamboyant dressing and lousy lifestyle, and not on Jeans, T-shirt and face cap, as the case with Gulak on the day in question. I think a seasonal and critical investigator might want to look towards this angle.
Like every other national assignment for Nigerian public servants and most importantly a high profile style that is within the expectation of the Nigerian Legislature, logistics for ease of functionality are always provided for them. And this recently concluded Constitutional Review assignment of the Senators, more than enough fund for all types of logistics was provided.
Why therefore would Gulak be found in a private cab, which probably not one of those luxurious vehicles assigned to the Committee in Owerri? Again, a seasonal investigator should be covering all these areas in his/her throwing dragnet of investigation.
Then, let us move to the Nigeria Police Force “investigative” skill in this assassination case of Gulak. The man was killed on Sunday morning inside a cab, on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Abuja. And by the same Sunday evening the Imo State Police Command announced to the whole world that “killers of Ahmed Gulak have been apprehended and neutralized”.
It must be one of those few crimes in Nigerian history that the police would get the perpetrators of the crime apprehended and neutralized or apprehended and arrested within hours of the crime without investigation. The speed defers logical interpretation! Let us listen to the report delivered to the Nigerian People on the speedy investigation and conclusion of those who killed Ahmed Gulak, as presented by the Imo State Police Command Public Relation Officer; Supol Bala Elkana.
Imo Police Command said it has neutralised killers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Ahmed Gulak. Its spokesman, Bala Elkana who disclosed this in a statement, said the suspects met their waterloo at Afor Enyiogugu junction in Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area.
According to him, “Police Special Forces made of Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Police Mobile Force (PMF) and Tactical Units from the Command were deployed to the scene at Obiangwu Junction at Ngorokpala LGA of Imo state.
“The teams were given a clear instruction to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of the act with a view of bringing them to justice.
“Eye witnesses’ account, especially the account given by the driver of the vehicle conveying Ahmed Gulak to the airport before the attack, gave a vivid description of the assailants and the vehicles they used in carrying out the attack.
“The assailants were said to have used a Toyota Camry 2005 model with silver color; Toyota Sienna 1998 Model with golden color; Toyota Hilux with white color; and a Lexus RX 330 with golden Color. (Registration numbers are withheld for security reasons).
“Having established the identity of the assailants and the description of the vehicles used in carrying out the attack, the teams further got details of the direction the hoodlums have taken.
“With further leads, the team was able to establish the location of suspects. The suspects were rounded up at Afor Enyiogugu junction in Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area.
“The hoodlums were met distributing onions to locals from a trailer they confiscated. The trailer was loaded with onions from the Northern region of Nigeria.”
According to him, on sighting the Police, the hoodlums providing security coverage to those sharing the onions opened fire on the Police teams.
“The gallant and battle ready Police Officers swiftly returned the fire. The six hoodlums who carried out the killings and four other members of their gang were fatally injured. Three out of the four vehicles used in attacking Gulak were recovered,” he added.
He listed the items recovered from them to include three AK 47 rifles, one pistol, five AK 47 magazines with ninety two rounds of live ammunition and criminal charms.
He said “the driver who drove late Ahmed Gulak and a co- victim who survived have all identified the dead body of the IPOB/ESN members.”
Are there not too many questions to be asked on this narrative of the Police? For example, the killers of Gulak, having finished with such deadly assignment, decided to branch off to the business of sharing Onions in the market place – does that make sense to any person? That is one angle of total mess-up by the Police.
Then let us read again the witness the Police said identified the bodies of the “killers” and re-interpret it. He said “the driver who drove late Ahmed Gulak and a co- victim who survived have all identified the dead body of the IPOB/ESN members.”
How could it be possible that Gulak driver; a man caught in the web of element of surprise, as much as the victim, at that few moments of the operation that terminated the life of Gulak could be the reliable witness identifying the killers. And in a jiffy, by the Police report and without investigation, all the killers were members of IPOB/ESN – fantastic.
We need to help the Nigeria Police Force in getting to the killers of Ahmed Gulak because for now, the path the Police have taken can only confuse course of justice.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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