The police said on Thursday that they had arrested the killers of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti.
The suspects are Lawal Mazaje, 40, from the Felele area of Kogi State; Adamu Adamu, 50, from Jada, Adamawa State; Mohammed Usman, 26, from Illela, Sokoto State; and Auwal Abubakar, 25, an indigene of Shinkafi, Zamfara State
The police said investigation revealed that the killing was carried out by eight fully armed suspected robbers led by one Tambaya (other names unknown), who is currently at large.
The force explained that efforts were being intensified to arrest the four other suspects currently on the run.
This is coming nine months after Olakunrin was attacked between Kajola and Ore on the Ondo-Ore Road in Ondo State on July 13, 2019, while travelling in a black Toyota Highlander SUV.
Other vehicles were also ambushed and several persons, including Olakunrin’s driver, were kidnapped, but were later rescued.
Her murder stoked tension in the South-West and subsequently hastened the establishment of a regional security outfit codenamed, Amotekun, by governors in the region.
The Afenifere spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin, had on April 7, 2020, said in a statement that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder.
However, his assertion was refuted by the Ondo State Police Command, which claimed that it was not aware of the development.
Confirming the arrest of the suspects in a statement on Thursday, the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, recalled that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had in the aftermath of the incident directed the Commissioner of Police, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Fimihan Adeoye, to coordinate the team of police special forces and seasoned investigators from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, the Intelligence Response Team and the Technical Intelligence Unit to investigate the murder.
Mba stated that after months of relentless efforts, the police team, on March 4, 2020, during a follow-up action on a high-profile armed robbery and kidnap for ransom case that occurred in Ogun State, arrested Abubakar, an accessory after the fact of the crime, along the Sagamu-Ore Expressway in Ondo State.
The statement said, “The arrest of Abubakar led to the arrest of two other members of the gang, Mohammed Usman and Lawal Mazaje, in Benin, Edo State, from whom a cache of ammunition was recovered, and one other, Adamu Adamu, in Akure, Ondo State.
“Having established sufficient physical and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the investigators, determined to clear all doubts relating to their findings, on April 8, 2020, conducted an identification parade at the Federal SARS headquarters, Lagos, which led to the positive and physical identification of Adamu, Mazaje and Usman by a survivor of the earlier crime.”
The police said the survivor gave a clear description of the roles each of the identified suspects played in the killing.
“At this point, the suspects capitulated and voluntarily offered a no holds barred confession on how Mrs Olakunrin was killed,” the force stated.
It added that the eight-man gang had their operational base and membership spread in the south-western part of the country and Edo State, noting that it was responsible for a series of high-profile armed robbery and kidnap operations in the region.
The statement said the gang also attacked, vandalised and stole components of critical national infrastructure such as electrical and telecommunications installations.
Meanwhile, the IG has declared the principal suspect, Tambaya, wanted for his role in the killing of Olakunrin.
“Tambaya, a Nigerian, speaks Hausa, Fulfulde and pidgin English languages. He is fair in complexion and in his late 20s, between the ages of 27 and 30. His last known address is Isanlu, Kogi State. He has a visible scar from stitches on his forehead down to his nose and mouth,” the police said.