Unravelling Admiral Ikoli’s Death, By Dele Agekameh
– the late Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli
Ikoli’s case should not be allowed to join the ever-lengthening cases of unresolved murders that have plagued this country. This is because as long as assassins continue to strike without being detected by the security agencies, many more people will continue to resort to assassinations to settle squabbles.
In the last few years, there has been a frightening upsurge in violent crimes, especially armed robbery, kidnapping and assassination all over the country. This is closely followed by various communal clashes where dangerous weapons have been freely deployed. But while the various communal clashes are simmering down, the violent crime wave, especially pertaining to assassinations, has headed in the opposite direction. There is now hardly any Nigerian, living in a town or city, who has not heard of a story of one violent killing or the other.
The number of security agents shot dead while trying to stop these hoodlums is rising dangerously. Recently, Akinwunmi Ambode, the energetic governor of Lagos State, set up a properly equipped and trained neighbourhood watch, code-named Neighbourhood Safety Corps, in an attempt by his government to arrest the growing trend of violent crimes in the state. In spite of this, the state witnessed yet another bloodbath last Sunday as rampaging militants mowed down four policemen, an army captain and one civilian in one fell swoop during a foiled kidnap operation at Ishawo, in the Ikorodu area of the state.
As we all know, the concept of national security pre-supposes that the highest responsibility of any government is to safeguard and protect the nation, its people and institutions from internal subversion and external aggression. Even more frightening is the proliferation of illegal arms of all kinds. Hence trigger-happy criminals are multiplying; all they need are guns and other instruments of mass destruction and these are readily available to them through the activities of smugglers via our porous and undefended borders.
In recent times, the country has become one vast arms bazaar where anybody can buy virtually any type of handgun and ammunition. No wonder, the spate of violent crimes and unnecessary shedding of the blood of innocent people across the country, has been going on unabated. Therefore, it was not totally surprising when news broke out last week that the Fleet Commander of Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, had been found dead at his Apapa, Lagos residence. Initial confusing reports said that Admiral Ikoli might have shot himself dead in the new era of mounting suicide cases in the country. The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS BEECROFT, who was appointed into the presidential committee on the probe of arms deal, was said to have been found in a pool of his blood in his bedroom.
According to a naval aide to the deceased, a boy who lives at his home claimed he heard gunshot from Ikoli’s room and took cover. The aide said: “The boy said he heard gunshot and when he did, he took cover. The bullet hit him on the chest. Three bullets were seen in his room. No one can really tell what happened but the position he was seen suggests he might have been scared of something or someone.”
…why will Ikoli commit suicide because of high exchange rate when the opportunity is there to recall his son to Nigeria to continue his education?
Chinwe Umar, a Lieutenant Commander and the command’s information officer, said the police have been invited for investigation. In a report she put out shortly after the incident was uncovered, she simply said: “In the early hours of Wednesday, April 5, gunshots were heard in the vicinity where Rear Admiral Teikumo Daniel Ikoli resides in Apapa. When his room was opened, he was found dead. Police have been invited and investigation is ongoing.”
The death of the Naval officer who has been described as an exceptionally brilliant, honest and hard working officer, has continued to dominate discussions across the country. Not a few people have expressed total indignation over the manner of his death. While many people are lost over what could have led to his death, the rumour making the rounds is that Ikoli must have committed suicide. First, they said he had been complaining about the high exchange rate prevalent in the country because he has kids in foreign schools. Again, they said he might not have been in a good condition of health as he had recently been rapidly losing weight.
It appears the notion that the officer might have taken his own life cannot hold water. The reason is that his performance at the arms probe panel instituted by the presidency to probe the $15 million arms deal which has seen many top officers in the security services being dragged to various courts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had earned him accolades everywhere. This is because of his honest and uncompromising stand. This, it was reported, resulted in the accelerated promotion he got recently. For such a man with a principled stand on issues, the last thing that can cross his mind is suicide. Or would a man commit suicide just because he was promoted above his course mates?
On the issue of exchange rate, a family source said he only has one child schooling abroad. And in any case, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, recently announced some palliative measures to alleviate the difficulties encountered by Nigerians who have children abroad or want to go on medical vacations. With these measures, the exchange rates of foreign currencies have dropped by at least between N100 and N140 to a dollar, thereby bringing the rate to about N360 to a dollar, as against the previous N520 to a dollar a few months ago. In this case, why will Ikoli commit suicide because of high exchange rate when the opportunity is there to recall his son to Nigeria to continue his education?
…the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) could be in a better position to investigate this sudden death. This is more so because of the renewed vigour with which the new leadership of DIA under the new Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) AVM Ahmed Usman, has been going about its duties.
Besides, one of his elder brothers who spoke last week said the issue of sickness and consequently getting lean does not arise. As close as he was to his brother, he said he never mentioned anything about being sick to him. With this revelation, it is clear that those who want to divert attention from the real circumstances surrounding Ikoli’s death may have tried to cook up some cock and bull stories in order to cover up their tracks.
From what has been pieced together, although the story is that the door to Ikoli’s room was found locked from inside at the time the dastardly act was uncovered, there could be other inlets into the room including the ceiling. Also, the position in which he was found is suggestive that he might have been hiding from something or someone. In addition, there were traces of footsteps on the staircase leading to his room. Therefore, the story does not look like a case of suicide because even on the night before, he was said to have attended a get-together party, meaning that he didn’t suffer any depression as being sold to the public.
With the circumstances surrounding his death, both the Naval Intelligence and the police who are now saddled with the investigation, may not be able to come up with any genuine report on this incident. For instance, the investigators might need to look inwards into the navy to unravel the circumstances of Ikoli’s death. In the case of the police, they have always been found wanting when it comes to high profile cases like this. My suggestion, therefore, is that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) could be in a better position to investigate this sudden death. This is more so because of the renewed vigour with which the new leadership of DIA under the new Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) AVM Ahmed Usman, has been going about its duties.
Ikoli’s case should not be allowed to join the ever-lengthening cases of unresolved murders that have plagued this country. This is because as long as assassins continue to strike without being detected by the security agencies, many more people will continue to resort to assassinations to settle squabbles or silence opposition to their moves. And the society will definitely continue to be the worse for it.
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