Jelili Oseni and Sanusi Wasiu, two police constables attached to the G Divisional Police Headquarters, Oloje, Ilorin, Kwara State, were on a surveillance assignment in January 2005 when they intercepted a vehicle with a fake vehicle registration number.
While interrogating the driver of the vehicle, the two officers discovered they were dealing with a case of theft. Apart from this, further investigations carried out by the duo revealed they were dealing with a car smuggling syndicate.
Quite famous among their colleagues for their past exploits in solving cases and arresting criminals in Kwara State, Oseni and Sanusi thought they would enjoy the state command’s backing in their bid to further unravel the identities of the key members of the syndicate and make them answer for their crimes.
In the end, however, it turned out they had bitten more than they could chew as they got dismissed for diligently doing their job.
‘MY LANDLORD WAS THE LEADER OF THE SMUGGLING RING’
While the driver of the vehicle was being questioned, the answers he provided revealed that one Musa Oloyin, a very prominent figure in Oloje, was the leader of the smuggling ring.
Interestingly, Oloyin happened to be Sanusi’s landlord at the time.
“Musa Oloyin was a very prominent person in Ilorin at the time,” Sanusi said in an interview with ThePressNG.
“He also happened to be my landlord when the matter came up. It was in the course of our investigation that we discovered that he was the leader of the smuggling ring.
“Landlord or no landlord, I believed I still had to do my job then. That was what I signed up for. So, we arrested him.
“To show you how influential the man was at the time, people started calling my line and that of Mr. Oseni, my supervisor, from all over Kwara State, begging for him to be released. They also told us to drop the case.
“At a point, Oloyin accused me of wanting to contribute to his downfall as a tenant. I had to tell him on numerous occasions that I was only doing my job as a police officer.”
When the pressure heaped on Sanusi for his landlord to be released became overwhelming for him, he consulted Mustapha Isegen, his station’s DPO, for instructions on the next line of action on the matter.
“I told the DPO that Oloyin was my landlord. I also asked him for the next line of action,” Sanusi said.
“Oloyin and the other two were later granted bail. The recovered vehicle and all other documents attached to it, however, remained at the station.
“He was detained on a Thursday evening, released on a Friday morning and asked to make an appearance at the station on the morning of the following Monday, but Oloyin did not show up.
“When he eventually came on Tuesday, the DPO was not around. The next thing we saw on Wednesday was a petition from the headquarters.”
According to Sanusi, Oloyin petitioned the police command in Ilorin with a claim that he was detained for seven days at the station.
“Meanwhile, he did not even spend up to 24 hours in detention. He was arrested on a Thursday evening and released the following morning, which was Friday.
“He also claimed in the petition that we placed him in handcuffs and paraded him before the public like a common criminal. To make matters worse, he also said we collected N150,000 from him as a bribe. All the claims he made were not true.”
Based on the petition Oloyin wrote, Sanusi and Oseni would later be arrested and subsequently prevented from proving their innocence by the then Kwara State police hierarchy.
Sanusi claimed that Solomon Olusegun, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, had always resented Isegen. He further said the unfair treatment he and Oseni faced was an offshoot of Olusegun’s hatred for the DPO.
“Initially, I had no idea DC Olusegun and the DPO had had a not-so-cordial past,” said Sanusi.
“While investigation was still ongoing, however, DC Olusegun invited me and Mr. Oseni to his office at the state headquarters in Ilorin for an interview.
“This was how we got detained for trying to do our job. At a point, I was brought out of detention and DC Olusegun tried manipulating me into implicating the DPO, but I stood by the truth and made him understand that Oloyin was a smuggler despite being my landlord.
“He wasn’t satisfied with my response and ordered that I be returned to the cell.
“On the fifth day, they brought me before him and I repeated the same story. He now asked whether I wanted him to help me. After this, he told me to confess to taking bribes from Oloyin, but I told him that I would not be party to a fabricated narrative, and that I was saying the truth.
“Olusegun also said we should admit that we demanded a N150,000 bribe from Oloyin. He also said we should confess to handcuffing him and parading him in public like a criminal and that he would drop the case against us.
“I refused to lie. I told him I would not say all those things because none of them happened.
“That was how we ended up spending 32 days in detention before we were eventually dismissed from service.”
THE ORDERLY ROOM TRIAL
After spending 15 days in detention, Sanusi and Oseni eventually went through an orderly room trial.
“DC Olusegun, as a matter of fact, gave the head of the trial an order that he should ensure that we were dismissed,” Sanusi said.
“The trial lasted five days. If we were to consider the first 15 days we had spent in detention before the trial, it meant we spent 20 days in the cell between when we were arrested and when the trial lasted.
“Under normal circumstances, we were supposed to be released after the trial so that we could have seven days to appeal the outcome. Unfortunately, we were denied that opportunity.
“We ended up spending 32 days in detention. Interestingly, Musa Oloyin was released, allowed to move freely, and the vehicle was also released to him on the instruction of the police hierarchy.
“All the fake documents, particulars and plate numbers we tendered during the room trial were also returned to Oloyin. In the end, the trial head had us dismissed from the force without examining the evidence we tendered.
“We could not also appeal the outcome because the seven-day timeframe to do so had passed due to our continued incarceration.
“From 2005 till date, we have been fighting this case. Every day, I wake up and tell myself, what will I tell my kids? I am being punished for doing my job the right way.”
JELILI OSENI’S STORY
Jelili Oseni, Sanusi’s partner, was once honoured by the Kwara State Police Command for the role he played in the arrest of six armed robbers and recovery of stolen properties in the state on September 9, 2003.
“The commendation I received during that period was like a tonic. It spurred me into further giving my best while discharging my duties as a police officer in Kwara State,” Oseni said in an interview with ThePressNG.
“In 2005, I became a member of a surveillance squad in the Oloje area of Ilorin. I happened to be Sanusi’s supervisor during the period.
“In January that same year, we intercepted a bus with a fake registration number. In the course of our investigation, we later discovered it was a stolen vehicle.”
Oseni corroborated Sanusi’s account that the car the squad intercepted was one of the many cars that had been stolen and smuggled into Kwara State by Oloyin’s car smuggling syndicate.
“Once vehicles were stolen and brought into Kwara State, the members of the ring took it to Oloyin, the ringleader, who changed the plate number and then fabricated vehicle documents.
“After this, the gang shipped the vehicles out of the state and sold them to customers in other states. Our investigation also showed that the group had special mechanics who were always on standby to get the plate numbers changed.
“Oloyin operated the business from a very big compound in Oloje.”
The arrested driver led members of the surveillance squad to the shop of a mechanic who worked for the syndicate.
“Surprisingly, the mechanic had fled his shop when we got there,” Oseni said.
“We also later discovered that Oloyin had a special way of arranging for fake vehicle particulars once they were stolen. This was done so that their drivers and whoever bought the vehicles would not to have issues at any checkpoint.”
Oseni told ThePressNG that the squad secured a search warrant and went to conduct a search at Oloyin’s house.
“On Oloyin’s premises, we found another vehicle with fake licence plates. We also went to Ibrahim Abubakar, another syndicate member’s house, where we recovered government stamps, drivers licences and many passport photographs of people that the syndicate had probably issued fake particulars to. We ended up detaining Oloyin, Abubakar and the driver.
“Surprisingly, the trio of Oloyin, Abubakar and the driver were subsequently granted bail by the command.
“Unknown to us, the tables had also turned against Sanusi and I as the command surprisingly made us prime suspects in a car smuggling case that we tried investigating.
“The command went ahead to arrest and detain Sanusi and me for an offence we never committed.
“They also alleged that we extorted N150,000 from Oloyin but could not provide any evidence to back up their allegations. We even tendered a case file, but it was not even considered during the trial.”
Oseni said his and Sanusi’s eventual dismissal stemmed from an agelong dislike Olusegun had for Mustapha Isegen, the then Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of their station.
“While we were being detained, Olusegun told me to make sure I implicated my DPO and that he would let me and Sanusi go once I did,” said Oseni.
“I, however, told him I would not do that. When I said that, he told me he would make sure we were both dismissed. Despite all the evidence Sanusi and I tendered at the orderly room trial, we were made to spend 32 days in incarceration.
“The evidence was also not looked at or considered by the head of the trial. They even fabricated the fact that we tried to extort N150,000 from Musa Oloyin. They entered that particular claim as evidence against us during the trial. That was how we got dismissed.
“When we further took the matter to Force Headquarters, Abuja, an attempt was made on my life by unknown persons. I had to flee the Ilorin barracks I was staying in in a rush. We were dismissed for no just cause.”
‘SOLOMON’S LONGSTANDING FEUD WITH ISEGEN‘
While speaking with ThePressNG, Sanusi and Oseni further explained the real reason they got dismissed from service by the police command in Kwara State.
“It may sound absurd, but the real reason we got dismissed from service was because we refused to carry out Olusegun’s request of making sure that we implicated Mustapha Isegen in the matter,” Sanusi told ThePressNG.
“What happened then was that M.D Abubakar, the then commissioner of police in Kwara State, happened to be like a mentor to Isegen, our DPO. As a matter of fact, they once worked together in Lagos State.
“When they now both got posted to Kwara State afterwards, Abubakar as the then commissioner, made Isegen ‘A’ Division DPO.
“Now, during that period, police officers, especially the high-ranking officers, used to see the ‘A’ Division as a very ‘uicy division.
“Meanwhile, Olusegun, apart from always saying it publicly that he was older than Abubakar in terms of age, would always regard anyone that was loyal to the CP as an enemy.
“When Abubakar later went on a promotional course, Olusegun became the acting CP. After we got dismissed by the command because of our refusal to implicate Isegen in the whole matter, the first thing Olusegun did was to transfer Isegen from ‘A’ to ‘D’ division.
“The real hatred he had for Isegen originated from his loyalty to Abubakar and his refusal to give returns to him while he was the DPO of ‘A’ Division.”
SANUSI VISITS SOLOMON AFTER DISMISSAL
After the dismissal of the two police officers, an elderly figure from Sanusi’s household accompanied him to Olusegun’s office to appeal that his dismissal be rescinded.
“The elderly family member pleaded with Olusegun to help us look into what could be done on our matter. Then, I was still quite young. I was also the breadwinner of my family,” said Sanusi.
“In response, Olusegun said I should go and ask Isegen whether he had ever come to visit and ‘appreciate’ him in his office since he was made ‘A’ Division’s DPO.
“He also said Isegen never visited him in his office with a gift as little as a stalk of plantains as a token of appreciation. He said the DPO was making money but had never shown appreciation for holding the position he held at the ‘A’ Division.”
OSENI’S ADDITIONAL STORY
“After we got dismissed, and when we refused to implicate Isegen, Olusegun subsequently transferred Isegen to Kaiyama, a rural area. By then, he had become the acting commissioner of police in the state,” said Oseni.
Oseni added that some unknown officers would later storm their office, destroying all the case files, including Musa Oloyin’s pictures.
“They did what they did just to destroy evidence relating to the case. I can very well say that Olusegun wilfully allowed Oloyin to escape being prosecuted for a crime because of the grudge he bore against Isegen,” Solomon said.
“It won’t also be out of place to say he gave the smuggler a safe passage to go without being punished. He used his powers to have us dismissed because of the score he felt he needed to settle with the DPO.”
Oseni talked about how Olusegun approved his and Sanusi’s dismissal.
“No DCP had the powers to sign the dismissal signal of any police officer in Nigeria, but Olusegun signed ours,” said Oseni.
“When a new CP, Bukar Maina, came to office, he reviewed our trial and said Olusegun and the officers who carried out the trial had adopted the wrong procedure. He, therefore, refused to sign.
“When Maina would not sign, Olusegun signed it himself.”
OLUSEGUN TELLS ThePressNG MATTER IS OUTDATED
When ThePressNG spoke to Olusegun on Oseni and Sanusi’s dismissal, he said he was surprised that a matter that happened as far back as 2005 was still being spoken of.
“I am surprised that if something could happen in 2005 and somebody is calling you for it in 2023, it looks… eh… . Well, if not that it might be a criminal offence, it (the issue) is outdated,” Olusegun said.
“How do I remember now? That time, I was a deputy commissioner of police, I believe. I have retired for over 10 years now as an AIG. You see, if those boys (Oseni and Sanusi) were not really guilty, the reactions should have not been now.
“The reactions should have been within a year. The reaction should not have been more than two years. And you’re now coming back after almost 20 years? To me, that is foolishness.
“They were 100 percent guilty. I remember the names clearly. 100 percent guilty. And, in fact, as a deputy commissioner of police, I think, that was about the only time we dismissed officers.
“They were 100 percent guilty. Well, maybe they have money and they want to bless you with money. Other than that, I do not know why it is now they are talking. It is true I am Solomon Olusegun. I wish you well.”
After Olusegun’s first conversation with ThePressNG, he called in the second time.
“I just want to enlighten you that those boys’ removal was done based on the order from the then commissioner of police (CP). And I was not the commissioner of police then; I was just a second in command,” said Solomon.
“Sometimes, when an assignment is given to me, I will give it to another subordinate to carry out.
“When they do it, they will pass it to me, and I will pass it to the CP. So, it was actually the commissioner of police who dismissed them; it was not me per se. I wish you well.”
After several unsuccessful attempts at getting to Isegen, ThePressNG eventually succeeded in reaching him on Friday morning.
“Whatever they (Oseni and Sanusi) might have told you, they are right,” Isegen told ThePressNG.
“That was exactly what happened. The truth, however, is that there was no way they would have been able to implicate me. An independent person, I mean a third party, did actually confirm it to me that Olusegun indeed asked them to implicate me in the car smuggling matter.
“In truth, Olusegun hated me because of the former IG, M.D Abubakar. He said I was too loyal to him. He would even call Abubakar despicable names in my presence, but I refused to tell him (Abubakar) any of this, not even once.
“Incidentally, while the matter was still ongoing, I travelled to see my family because I knew that man (Olusegun) was up to something.
“That was why he could not do anything to me then. Despite approving my application to travel at the time, Olusegun still queried me afterwards for travelling. I was then forced to again provide evidence showing that he had indeed approved my travel.
Isegen also spoke on Olusegun’s claim that he did not sign Oseni and Sanusi’s dismissal signal as a deputy commissioner of police.
“Olusegun Solomon is now denying? He was the perpetrator. He made sure he saw the end of those boys (Oseni and Sanusi) in the police,” said Isegen.
“It is just so unfortunate that they both exited the force that way. It is equally paining me [sic] that they were dismissed in that manner. I am handicapped in the matter. If I had the powers, I would not have allowed them get dismissed like that.
“There is no way both Oseni and Sanusi can have access to the dismissal signal except they formally apply for it at the Force Headquarters.”
Isegen has also since retired from the force.
OUTDATED TO SOLOMON, FRESH TO OSENI AND SANUSI
Unfortunately, the incident Olusegun referred to as outdated is still very fresh in the minds of Oseni and Sanusi.
As a matter of fact, the dismissal has continued to have negative impacts in the lives of the two former police officers. After Sanusi got dismissed from the force, his wife divorced him.
“My wife left me when I got dismissed from the force in 2005,” said Sanusi.
“She even took the children with her. She left because I could no longer fend for her and the children after my dismissal.
“I have been living a hand-to-mouth life ever since. I have been doing all sorts of menial jobs to survive for 18 years. I am now 47 and still don’t know what the future holds.
“I don’t want to see this dismissal tag hang around my neck for the rest of my life. I want our names cleared. I have to be able to tell my children that I eventually got justice after I was initially wrongfully dismissed.”
Oseni, while speaking with ThePressNG, also detailed the level of hardship he had been facing due to the dismissal.
“After the dismissal, I worked for many years as a manual labourer at a cement factory in Ogun State,” Oseni said.
“I worked as a labourer for years. I carried cement on my head for money so I could take care of my family. It has been 18 years but I am still hopeful that our dismissal would one day be rescinded.”
Oseni, 50, now works as a house agent in Oyo State.
In 2011, Hafiz Ringim, the then Inspector General of Police, gave an order that the case be revisited.
“When we got to the division that was supposed to revisit the matter in Lagos, we were told that we would have to fund the travel expense of the investigating squad from Lagos to Kwara State,” Sanusi said.
“They said we were to pay N150,000 for the expenses that would be incurred.
“Unfortunately, we could not raise that kind of amount back then. That was how the case was again dropped.”
Olusegun went on to serve as a commissioner of police in Ogun and Osun State before retiring as an assistant inspector general of police (AIG) over 10 years ago.
Despite Olusegun’s claims that Oseni and Sanusi did not appeal their dismissal on time, documents made available to ThePressNG show that they indeed petitioned the Kwara State Police Command and the Force Headquarters on the matter, and frequently, but their requests were never treated.
ThePressNG sent an email to the Police Service Commission (PSC) for comments on the matter on October 17, but it had not been responded to at press time.