The ‘VIP’ self-confessed serial killer

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CRIMINAL elements have their moments. Having been weaned into their game, after a spell of ‘apprenticeship’ under some entrenched kingpins, they take the stage by storm. They bestride their own spheres of influence in the convoluted criminal underworld like the overlords that they are. They begin to savour their new-found ‘stardom’, as their murderous escapades soon set off a bedlam in the outer world.

Having perfected the art of manoeuvring through the labyrinth of the precarious criminal underworld, they most times succeed in evading the ‘landmines’ laid for them by the law; at least for a period. In these climes, most of the big-time criminal kingpins resort to fortifying themselves with native powers of all sorts. Those goad them into basking in delusion, feeling a tinge of invincibility around them. So, they prance and strut, roistering in self-importance and ego trip.

However, the hide and seek between the law and its preys (criminal suspects) always lasts for only a fleeting moment. The law is a patient hunter. It crouches leisurely and hounds its preys by stealth. Then suddenly, it springs up and pounces on its preys. Oyenusis, Aninis, Shina Rambos, Ahmed Tijanis etc., were all students of this school of illusory stardom. They had their time but the law caught up with them.

The ‘star’ of the moment in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, is Sunday Shodipe, the alleged serial killer, who, together with other members of a suspected syndicate, has had to tar the ancient city with the blood of his hapless victims. The 19-year-old suspect presents a deceptive persona in his quite benign, almost childish looks which belie his atrocious exploits. Eleyele local government area of the state has particularly been the theatre of this killing binge.

Since May when the activities of ritual killers became pronounced in Akinyele council, the whole area has been tinged in a pall of gloom and doom. Death prowls and visits at will. The area has come under the siege of a menacing killer gang whose mode of operation is akin to that of the Badoo ritual killers of Ikorodu some years back.

The gruesome murder of 18-year-old Barakat Bello, a National Diploma student of the Federal College of Animal Production Technology, Moore Plantation, Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State, appeared to have opened the floodgate of the gristly misadventure. Barakat was said to have been gang-raped before she was hacked to death on May 31, setting off a public obloquy.

Her grief-stricken father, Kasimu Elepo, said nobody was at home when the killer gang visited and pounced on the innocent girl, but her body was found at the back of the house and the tell-tale signs showed she was mercilessly raped before life was snuffed out of her.

According to an organised group in the area, People’s Awareness Initiative (PAI), other people killed in the area included Azeezat Somuyiwa, who was allegedly killed in Adisa area on June 5; Grace Osiagwe, murdered at Idi-Ori area on June 13; Mojeeb Tirimisiyu, killed at Tose area on June 23; Olusayo Fagbemi, who was despatched to her early grace at Sasa area on June 24. Other victims listed by PAI are: Dolapo Bamidele and her mother, Deola Bamidele, matcheted at Alaja area on June 29; an unnamed victim, killed at Elekuru on July 1 and Onitoke Grace, mowed down at Onikro area, Moniya on July 20.

The agitated residents, however, heaved in relief and had a reprieve from the siege when some of the suspects, including Shodipe and his purported master, Adedokun Yinusa Ajani, 50, a herbalist alleged to be the one sending Shodipe on the ghoulish errands, were arrested and paraded by the police in Ibadan on July 17.

Shodipe confessed to killing some of the victims and opened up on how his alleged master, Ajani, used to send him out to kill, after fortifying him with charms. And to show how worthless human life is to the suspected ritual killers, Shodipe claimed Ajani paid him a paltry N500 for every person he killed! But Ajani denied sending Shodipe to kill anybody. He claimed it was his (Shodipe’s) mother who brought the lad to him to learn how to become a herbalist.

Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Joe Enwonwu, revealed how the suspects were nailed. He said the mobile phone of one of the victims was recovered from one Shehu Usman by the police. According to him, even though Usman denied any involvement in the crime, he gave sufficient information that led to the arrest of both Shodipe and Ajani.

He confirmed that the suspects were responsible for the killing of some of the victims. They included Wasilat Adeola, Barakat Bello, Grace Osiagwu, Mojeeb Tirimisiyu (a five-year-old). The CP said the suspects also allegedly attacked Adeola Azeezat and her daughter, Dolapo Oyeyemi, but they both survived.

However, the tendon of reprieve enjoyed by the people with the arrest of the suspects soon snapped following the controversial escape of Shodipe from the police custody after he had been charged to court. The CP, who announced the escape through a statement issued by the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Fadeyi Olugbenga, a Superintendent of Police, vowed to deal ruthlessly with those involved in the embarrassing escape.

Expectedly, the controversial escape touched off a momentary national alarm. It stirred immediate outrage, as stakeholders flew into a rage. Enraged youths mobilised and marched on the state Police Command Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan, to register their displeasure against the pernicious situation. They carried placards bearing inscriptions that queried how such an important suspect could have escaped from the police custody.

The organised group, PAI, was more vociferous in their verbal protest. In their strongly worded statement, they decried the worsening security situation in Akinyele council, leading to the “incessant killing of innocent souls”.

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