Coming after suspects who murdered Cynthia Osukogu; Okwumo Nwabufor and Olisaeloka Ezike – were sentenced to death, while two alleged accomplices – Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso, Dan Okoro, were acquitted by Justice Olabisi Akinlade, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Frauds Unit, Lagos, spoke with Punch, beaming with pride as he reminisced on some of the details of the case, which he said he had hitherto never spoken about publicly.
“I faced a lot of pressure while investigating the case. The pressure came from different persons I would not like to mention but we were not deterred.
“We had to go through a lot of risks to ensure the investigation made a headway. I remember the day we moved into the house of the number one suspect (Nwabufor) at 3am. He lived on the top floor.
“We looked everywhere and there was no ladder. I had to use my men to form a ladder and climbed upstairs and burst into his room. When you burst into the room of a killer, you are not sure of how prepared he would be. But it was a risk we had to take. He might have been armed, and finished everybody as soon as we burst into his house.
“When he left his room and moved into the ceiling in an attempt to escape, we again took the risk of going after him in the ceiling to get him down.”
Okoro was reportedly offered N15m to sweep the case under the carpet by one of the felons while he was investigating the case.
At a point in the investigation, Okoro said he had to go undercover to Benin Republic where one of the men arrested in the case was studying.
“I went to American International University in Benin Republic because I was looking for a way to connect one of the killers. I got him and brought him back to Nigeria. That was what gave me a pointer to the main killer.”
Okoro said his investigation took him to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State, where one of the convicts was a 400-Level Accounting student at the time.
The police officer said he tricked one of the men tried on the case (Nonso, acquitted), and made him come from Port Harcourt to Lagos on his own volition, without knowing he had been speaking with a detective.
Nonso was in possession of the victim’s phone at the time. He was joined in the case, for selling items taken from the victim.
“It was all about playing with his psyche. I tricked him in such a way that he could not have imagined he was coming to meet a detective.
“I knew that justice must be done according to the law. Anybody who spills another’s blood must not go unpunished. Cynthia was just an innocent girl that was tricked to Lagos and her life was snuffled by men she did not recognise as blood suckers.”
Okoro, whose detective work on the case was celebrated within and outside the country, culminating in a national honour by then President Goodluck Jonathan, said the case is an evidence of the Nigeria Police’s sound work in investigations..
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Okoro, who has degrees in Forensic Science, Law, Public Administration, Business Administration and Criminal Justice Administration, was the chairman of the police investigation panel, which recovered N111.3m bribe money alleged to have been paid by the Rivers State Government to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the rerun election last month.