Offa, the land of my birth and a community of outstanding citizens and achievements, is suddenly now in the spotlight for negative reasons following the callous brutal and inhuman robbery that took place in the town leaving 33 innocent souls dead with trail of colossal casualties to banks, individuals including pains, tears, anguish, sorrow etc of monumental proportion.
In recent times the robbery in terms of sophistication and mode of operation is unprecedented in the history of our country.
Given the scale of unprecedented tragedy unleashed on Offa people and the attendant pain, anguish and tears, the least any decent patriot will expect is the element of justice with strong demand that perpetrators of such man inhumanity to man akin to genocide be fished out and brought to justice.
This is because those 33 innocent souls whose lives were wasted needlessly deserved to live in an ideal society where human life is not cheap and where primacy is accorded to security of lives and property.
The scale of damage unleashed on Offa community and its economy by that deadly robbery operation is so huge that many businesses have collapsed and major banks are yet to recover from the shock and are undecided whether to reopen businesses in the town and if they decide on such opening, when it will be safe to continue to do business in an atmosphere of such grave insecurity.
The victims of the crime may not recover forever – families who have lost their breadwinners, homes scattered and displaced because of the trauma and a peaceful community visited with unprecedented violence with memories of pain, sorrow and tears to remember forever. Most importantly the souls of the 33 innocent people, including policemen, who lost their lives undoubtedly cry for justice in their graves.
This background underscores the seriousness of what happened and the inculpable damage to the psyche of a people crying for justice.
This demand for justice is beyond sentiments, beyond politics, beyond politicking and beyond any other spurious considerations other than the demand that perpetrators of such heinous crime are brought to book.
I speak the mind of majority of Offa people and decent patriots across the land and outside our shores when I say that what is required in this case is justice, justice, justice particularly to those 33 innocent souls whose lives were needlessly wasted.
The police, appreciatively, has risen to the occasion and so far they have recorded a major breakthrough with major arrests including the arrest of the leaders of the gang who continue to make unprecedented confessional statements containing dangerous disclosures against prominent individuals and high ranking public officials.
The sad development however is that rather than treat the whole episode strictly as a law and order issue, there is some deliberate attempt to introduce political colouration and sentiments with a view to shifting the focus from the quest for justice in the aftermath of high criminality to the people and the state.
This is what worries me and the reason for this intervention. At this stage, I owe a duty to my calling as a law officer and my conscience as a patriot of Offa town to speak up and call on the rest of the world to rise up in defence of the rule of law and the sanctity of human lives needlessly wasted by the occurrence of this Offa robbery tragedy.
As a law officer, I have to caution myself to maintain an open mind and give all persons involved the benefit of doubts insisting that the rule of law must be strictly followed to determine the guilt or innocence of any suspect.
I have read several theories on the subject being orchestrated by vested interests and I say, such theories should be kept in abeyance while the Police is allowed to do a thorough job.
We want to know all those who were involved in the robbery, we are interested in knowing how the robbery was planned and consummated, the whole world is interested in how the operation was funded, everyone who is decent is interested in stage by stage outline of the operations, the motivation for the operation is necessary as well as the procurement of materials, dangerous weapons and firearms deployed in the operation etc. We raise the following questions: What materials were used in the operation? Who provided these materials? Who supplied the firearms? Who funded the logistics? What are the detailed casualties in terms of lives and property? How was the amount carted away, shared and who got what? What happened after the robbery operation? What materials and items have been recovered? Who are those directly involved in the robbery operation? Who are those remotely involved in the robbery operation? What is the amount of financial losses suffered by the banks? Who were the victims of the crime and their particulars? What arrangements are being put in place to address the plight of the victims? And many others!
Now that confessional statements are being made, these confessional statements ought to be properly investigated and verified. Everyone mentioned in those statements high or low, rich or poor, prominent or otherwise should be summoned to explain their respective roles without exception. No attempt should be made to play politics or introduce some other sentimental considerations to this very important issue. Thirty-three innocent lives are involved here. Many of these innocent lives were victims of circumstances.
Some were engaged in the performance of their lawful duties as policemen and women, some were staff of banks who were rendering valuable services to earn a living, some were customers of the bank who were engaged in normal banking transactions, some were patrons of police stations to lodge legitimate complaints and seek redress and some were passersby going about their lawful businesses. These were lives that were wasted and those were souls who daily cry for justice in their graves. We should not be seen dancing on the graves of these innocent souls. We should rather be preoccupied with securing justice for those souls as well as their families and dependants as well as the society who remain traumatised by this horrendous, callous, inhuman and wicked development.
Olatunji Dare, great columnist in his commentary regarding the confessions made by the gangsters of the robbery made interesting observations as follows: “what one could deduce from the revelations so far is that the boys some of who are almost 50, were the enforcers of the Saraki political empire centered on Kwara State with branches in some other places, especially Kogi State. They had access to the corridors of power and to pull strings that would make them the envy of their neighbours. They were favoured with cash and materials of war. They were supposed to be political thugs; the attack dogs to be unleashed when necessary. But they were unfaithful criminals despite the indulgence they were pampered with by their principals. They love to moonlight.
We do not know how many moonlighting operations they may have been engaged in since they started their romance with the men of power. But the one in Offa on April 5, 2018 was in a class of its own. They decided to rob the banks in Offa and in the process, killed 33 people, including some pregnant women.
To kill on such a vast scale and still think of escaping the long arms of the law and the catholic law of nemesis shows how deluded they were about the omnipotence of their godfathers. Only the so-called Fulani herdsmen can kill and maim on a vast scale across Nigeria and still remain un-arrestable.
The Offa robbers were arrested and they started to sing. They sang about their connections to the-powers-that-be in Kwara State…”
There is one aspect of their confessional statements that worries me, the one allegedly linking high ranking functionaries of Kwara State government.
This is one confessional statement that the Kwara State government should take seriously and come out clean if governance is to be taken seriously. In this case, the five-gang leaders have allegedly confessed that they pulled the trigger. In the event that they are tried for armed robbery and if found guilty, who will sign their death warrants?
Armed robbery being a state offence triable in state high courts who will finalise the penal process at the end of the trial process assuming the suspects own up and are found guilty at the end of the trial? If the government of Kwara State has a role to play in the criminal trial process of the suspects, is it not necessary for the governor and the government of Kwara State to submit itself for investigations and clear their names from the sordid allegations of the suspects?
The other alternative open to the Police is to arraign the suspects for illegal possession of firearms which is a federal offence. Either way, the whole incident is messy except all mentioned submit themselves for investigations and clearance.
For the sake of all of the above, we should focus on the essentials. This is not the time to play politics. This is not the time to derail the police from performing their duties. This is not the time for unnecessary sloganeering. This is not the time to becloud or confuse issues and certainly, this is not the time to organise sponsored rallies and demonstrations to derail the process.
At this stage, we are not prejudging anyone but let everyone whose name has been mentioned submit to police investigations. No matter how big anyone is, the law is bigger.
I speak the mind of the majority of my people when I say that anyone who is not concerned about justice to the 33 innocent souls, whose lives were wasted, is an enemy of the people. We should not be seen dancing on the graves of the Offa 33 whose lives were needlessly wasted. Those lives for God sake are human beings and not chickens and they deserve justice. It is important to note that the tragic Offa robbery has gone global and with the whole world watching developments. This is one incident that cannot be swept under the carpet or trivialised for whatever reasons.
What are the demands? We urge the police to intensify investigations and ensure that all those who were involved in this monumental tragedy are speedily brought to justice in line with the requirement of the rule of law.
Inspite of the confessional statements and the several theories flying around, we prefer to maintain an open mind, not indicting anyone or insisting anyone is guilty or innocent but we urge all to submit to the investigative process and allow the police to do its job unhindered by sentiments, sloganeering, politics and politicisation aimed at beclouding the real issue which remain the demand for JUSTICE.
We further demand that the Offa robbery incident be treated strictly as a law and order issue and not a political issue to be swept under the carpet.
Finally, we urge that the whole world should rise to deliver justice in this matter particularly to Offa 33 whose lives were needlessly and callously wasted.
These are our demands and we stand by them. History and posterity also stand by these demands.
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