Fresh facts have emerged on how the prime suspect of Ibadan ritual killings, 19-year-old Sunday Sodipe, escaped on Tuesday August 11, 2020, from police custody at Divisional Police Headquarters, Mokola, around 8p.m. Saturday Sun had last week exclusively reported the escape of the prime suspect.
Following the report, Nigerians have been asking questions on how the suspect, who confessed on Friday July 17, 2020, when he was paraded by the Commissioner of Police, Nwachukwu Enwonwu, before journalists, escaped from custody, if he was not deliberately freed.
But how did the suspect escape from Mokola police station? Why was he taken to the station from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, Ibadan? After he was arraigned in court, why was he not remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Centre but in police custody? Can his escape be linked to handiwork of moles in the police? Why was the news of his escape not made public until the youths of Akinyele community protested and Saturday Sun broke the news? Were the suspect’s legs not chained when he was to have his bath?
These are some of the questions people have been trying to find definite answers to since they heard about the development. However, Enwonwu has granted interviews to journalists on different occasions on how the suspect escaped, the disciplinary actions being taken against the policemen that were on duty when he ran away, and efforts being made towards re-arresting the escapee.
A diary of ritual killings
On June 1, 2020, at Oloro area of Akinyele town, suspected ritual killers smashed the head of one Miss Barakat Bello, a female student of the Department of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), Federal College of Animal Health and Production, Moor Plantation, Ibadan. Three weeks earlier, a pregnant woman was said to have been killed at Balogun village, near Moniya, the headquarters of Akinyele local government.
On June 5, 2020, ritualists also smashed the head of a 29-year-old woman, Mrs. Azeezat Somuyiwa, who at the time carried seven months old pregnancy, with a big stone at Ijefun community, near Ojoo. On Saturday June 13, a National Diploma student of Oke Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, Oyo State, Grace Oshiagwu, 21, was raped and killed at Idi Ori, Sasa, Ojoo area of Ibadan. On Monday June 22, a five-year-old boy, Mujib Tirimisiyu, was killed by ritual killers, who reportedly hit the boy’s head with a shovel at Olorunsogo Phase II, Tose, Moniya, Ibadan.
Also, on Wednesday June 24, the life of a 42-year-old woman, Mrs. Olusayo Fagbemi, who resided at Ajibade Street, Sasa, Ibadan, was cut short by ritual killers, when she was washing plates in front of her residence early in the morning. On Monday July 20th, a 16-year-old girl, was murdered at Onikoko, along Ibadan-Oyo Expressway at 9p.m. when her parents reportedly sent her to buy Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). On Thursday August 13, suspected ritual killers also murdered one Mrs. Olufunmilayo Oladejo at Onikeke Area of Akinyele, which led to a violent protest in the town.
The protest, loss and recovery of service pistol
The protest was staged by youths in Akinyele town on Friday August 14, following the murder of a middle-aged woman, Olufunmilayo Oladejo, at Onikeke area of the community around 2p.m. the previous day –Thursday.
The woman was said to have deep machete cuts in four places on her body, which was said to have followed the same pattern of how the almost 12 persons that had been killed for ritual purposes in different communities in the local government area, were dispatched to their early graves.
The protesters barricaded the road and prevented vehicular movement. They also pelted policemen that went to the community with stones. Three policemen were said to have been injured in the process. The irate youths argued that nobody was safe any longer in the local government. They alleged further that the development had shown that some very powerful people must have been supporting the ritual killings in the local government area.
Sources within the police said one of the policemen that went to Akinyele lost his service pistol during the mob attack. The pistol was said to have been taken from him by one of the protesters when they were shelled with stones. The police, as gathered, worked assiduously to recover the pistol, as they launched a manhunt for Sunday Sodipe. But the efforts have paid off on one side, as spokesperson of the Oyo State Police Command, Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi, confirmed to Saturday Sun that the pistol had been recovered.
Amidst the protest, the Alakinyele of Akinyele, Oba James Odeniran, told this paper that the father of Barakat Bello, a female student of the Department of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), Federal College of Animal Health and Production, Moor Plantation, Ibadan, that Sunday Sodipe confessed he killed on June 1, this year, informed him that he saw the suspect in Akinyele town.
“I was surprised. It was after the incident here that the man called Baba Barakat came to my palace to tell me that he saw the boy that killed Barakat at Elewure in this Akinyele on August 12th and 13th. I said no, I can’t believe it. He said he saw him and I said no. I sent the palace boys to go and investigate where they said they saw him, they came back to tell me that it was true. The problem with our people is that by the time they saw that boy, they did not inform anybody. I was not informed.
“Later, I phoned somebody that I learnt this boy has been released and he said no, the boy escaped from police custody. The boy escaped from police custody and nobody was aware? I said he has done another thing in Akinyele, he has killed somebody again. They said we should find means of apprehending him. I called all the youths, and then, all the Soludero hunters and we sent them out to be on the lookout for him.”
Why Shodipe was moved to Mokola police station and how he escaped
Shodipe was initially remanded at the SCID, Iyaganku, because the magistrate court, where he was arraigned ordered that he should be remanded in police custody. As gathered, the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Agodi, Ibadan has not been accepting new inmates based on the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the facility.
But police sources said the inmates at SCID were at intervals taken to Mokola Police Station as well as other stations in order to spread them out in observance of COVID-19 protocols. So, Shodipe and some of the inmates in the cell at SCID were taken to Mokola, while some others were also taken to Eleyele.
Shodipe and some others were said to have been taken to Mokola police station on Friday August 7th and they were there till Tuesday August 11th that he escaped. One of the suspects at the station, Idris Bamidele, recounted what happened on the fateful day. His words: “Myself and Sunday were the last set to have our bath on that day because they have been taking us out in a set of two. Before he was taken out of the cell on that day, my fellow inmates have been warning that we were not sure if Sunday would run away. We told the policeman not to take him outside, but he did not listen to us.
“So, we were taken outside together. Earlier, I told the policeman that my dress was dirty. So, he allowed me to wash my clothes outside. As I was washing, the policeman said Sunday should go and have his bath first. And he was taking his bath, when the officer told me that I would not be given opportunity to have my bath again once Sunday was done with his bath. So, I quickly rinsed the clothes and spread them where they could get dry. So, I fetched water from a well at the station and I was having my bath, when I heard Sunday telling the officer that his back was itching him. He was asked to fetch water in the well.
“He lowered the water drawer two times into the well and poured the water into a bucket. I saw him having his bath. I faced another direction as I was also bathing. The next thing I discovered was that wet sand from where he was bathing splashed on me. As I was trying to shake off the sand, I heard the shout of ‘hey, hey’ and gunshots. So, that was how Sunday ran away.”
When asked if Shodipe had said it to their hearing that he would escape on that day, Bamidele responded: “He did not discuss with anybody that he would run away. But in the cell, often he would not talk to anybody. He would just stay in one corner without saying anything. This would be the second time we were taken outside to have our bath like that.”
Herbalist’s account of Shodipe’s escape
Amidst the punching and bashing of the police over how Shodipe escaped, another allegation went viral that other suspects paraded on July 17th in connection with ritual killings in Akinyele local government have been freed by the police. When a question on the allegation was posed to the Oyo CP, Enwonwu, he said: “That is not correct. All the people who’re charged are still in our custody. It is only the serial killer that escaped. I am sure with all the efforts we are making, and God being on our side, we will re-arrest him.”
On request, he also granted permission via the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of SCID to visit the other suspects of Akinyele killings at the SCID. On getting there, after observing some protocols, the other suspects were brought out.
The herbalist, Adedokun Ajani, 50, whom Shodipe alleged to have been the one sending him to kill people for ritual purposes, was sighted, and he said he was in the cell at Mokola police station on the day Shodipe escaped. Also, the principal suspect of another gang of suspected ritual killers, Abiodun Olasoji, 35, as well as another alleged member of the gang, Aderibigbe Ademola, 36, and others were sighted at Iyaganku.
The herbalist also said: “On Friday (August 7), we were all taken to Mokola and we were there. On the second day of Sallah, one policeman had mercy on us that we should have our bath, which we had. Then, the following Tuesday, he took us outside in set of two inmates as usual. I fasted on that day and as I was breaking, I suddenly heard gunshot outside. Then, we saw policemen running around. They said Sunday had run away.
“But one Monday, we slept in the cell in the night. Then, one policewoman came and said ‘who among you is not sleeping?’ I opened my eyes and I said we were all sleeping. She said one of us was not sleeping. Then, we saw Sunday Shodipe standing by the window looking outside through the burglary proof on the window. The following day, we checked the burglary proof and we confirmed that it was not weak.”