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“Chief Bode George bought our operational bus for us and stocked the vehicle with arms and ammunition whenever we were going on operation to confront our opponents.” This was the claim of one of the suspected thugs arrested by the police for the killing of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Otun Azeez, in Isale-Eko area of Lagos Island last year. The suspect, Adebayo Dipo, 30, and two others – Alade Ogbulu, 30, and Kofi Olumede, 21 – were paraded yesterday by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Kayode Aderanti, at the Command Headquarters, Ikeja.

Aderanti said the suspects were apprehended by a Crack Squad led by Joel Oguwe. Dipo, who police described as a sharp shooter, was said to be the one who shot Azeez on the chest. At press time, George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was said to be out of the country. But a very close aide, who craved anonymity, said it was a ploy to tarnish George’s name. He said: “Since Baba (George) started his political career, he has not bought gun or ammunition for any political thug to kill for him. “Baba has not come across anybody with the name Adebayo Dipo who claimed he (George) bought their operational vehicle and ammunition for them.”

The late Azeez was in his house that fateful morning, when someone alerted him that one Abija, a chieftain of PDP and his ‘boys,’ were fomenting trouble in the area. Immediately he heard the news, he rushed to the scene, to check if his boys were among the fighters. He reportedly tried to pacify Abija and his boys who were returning from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s rally at Tafawa Balewa Square. When the late APC chieftain got to Adeniji Adele Plaza junction, he was hit twice in the chest by gunshots from the PDP thugs. He fell down. Olumede, who hails from Ghana, said he came to Nigeria in 2007. He said: “I was into confectionery when I arrived in the country. When the money I was making was not enough, I went to join the PDP gang through a friend. “I was not the one who shot the late Azeez that fateful day.

We were coming from the PDP rally at TBS when some boys confronted us. It was in the process of exchanging fire that gunshots hit him. “Three of our members were also killed that day. To avenge their death, we regrouped and went to Isale-Eko the following day, which was on Sunday, and shot five people to death at Enuowa area of the Island.” On his part, Ogbulu said his duty was to drive the gang whenever it was going out during the campaign period. He said: “I have not killed anybody in my life. All I did was to drive the gang’s vehicle whenever its members were going on operation.

Those of us who were with Abija were not earning salary. All he gave us in return was to fix us at motor parks to collect tolls.” Ogbulu said it was Olumede, Dipo and other members of the gang who went to Isale-Eko a day after Azeez was killed and shot dead five followers of the late APC chieftain.

Dipo said Abija was persuaded by top PDP leaders in Lagos to come to their fold. He added: “Our defection to the party did not go down well with some leaders of APC; that was what led to our fight.” Items recovered from the suspects included one singlebarrelled rifle, four rounds of cartridges, two cutlasses and one axe.

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