• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo


Suspect in Funsho Williams’ murder saga begs court to order re-investigation of the case against any party?


Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, a Jewish-American professor and political activist, once said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

But for Bashir Junaid, an attendant at the Matori Cemetery in Mushin, Lagos, and loyalist to former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his attempt to protest in the face of perceived injustice has resulted in alleged death threats and attempts on his life.

In a 48-paragragh statement of claim in support of a suit he recently filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, Junaid, who was detained and later released during the trial of the murder case of late Engr. Funsho Williams, frontline People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Lagos State in 2006, is alleging that a couple of the defendants in the said suit are after his life and had “at various times threatened to do away with me and my family if I did not desist from making any claims against them, over my illegal detention and dehumanisation by the police during my travails over the murder of Engr. Funsho Williams.”

According to Junaid, during the time of his detention, these individuals had been responsible for his upkeep and that of his wife and children, including the payment of his house rent. He claimed that upon his release, they met with him to debrief him and praised him for his efforts and loyalty in remaining firm in the face of harrowing deprivations, thereby averting the opprobrium and scandal that their being arraigned in the trial of the murder case of Engr. Williams would have occasioned, with a promise of adequate compensation by the government.

He was then given “some hand-outs for about two (2) months” after his release, but soon after this, his slot at the Matori Cemetery, Mushin, was handed over to another party stalwart in Mushin Local Government Chapter of ACN and he was left high and dry.

Junaid had recently gone to the Federal High Court in Lagos urging it to make an order of Mandamus directing the Inspector General of Police to re-open investigations into the murder of Engr. Funsho Williams, citing members of ‘Team Lagos’ killer squad as suspects due for arrest and interrogation.

The suit NO: FHC/L/CS/1371/14 due to be heard before Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia on March 19 has 11 co-defendants, including the Inspector-General of Police (1st defendant), Commissioner of Police, Lagos State (2nd defendant), Sunday Ehindero, former IGP and IPO of Funsho Williams’ murder case (3rd defendant), Attorney-General of the Federation (4th defendant) and seven others.

The plaintiff is also asking for a declaration that all the defendants should pay him compensation “for his illegal detention and the psychological traumatisation he suffered for a period of over one year under the unmitigated actions of the 1st-11th defendants both jointly and severally for their acts of commission and omission over the plaintiff’s said illegal detention and his unlawful incarceration over the murder of Engineer Funsho Williams”.

Furthermore, he is asking for a claim for compensatory and exemplary damages of N5 billion against the 11 defendants for their actions or inaction over his illegal detention and dehumanization over the murder of Engr. Williams.

Junaid’s travail, as contained in his statement of claim, began at around 5:00 pm on 29th July, 2006 when, upon the complaint of a former special adviser in the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, he was arrested at his home at 6/8, Oladiti Street, Ilupeju, Palm Grove, Lagos, by a team of policemen in four vehicles. The police team was on a mission to unravel those behind the murder of Engineer Funsho Williams and his killers in his house at Dolphin Estate Ikoyi on 27th July, 2006.

The petitioner and complainant alleged that Junaid, alongside others, conspired with certain persons operating under ‘Team Lagos’ killer squad to kill Engr. Funsho Williams.

“I was questioned on why Engr. Funsho Williams was killed and how I got to be working at the Matori Cemetery, Mushin. They also asked why I planned with some of the defendants to kill Engr. Funsho Williams and how many other PDP aspirants remain on the ‘Team Lagos’ killer squad hit list and my relationships with these people,” Junaid said in his statement.

The interrogators, according to him, further reeled out the names of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) operatives operating under ‘Team Lagos’ killer squad as including the late Saka Saula, Mustapha Sego, Joel Toba of Fadeyi, Solebo & Bariu, the kingpins of Toba Group, Ciro Asemola Taiwo, Femi Jaypron and Akanni Olorunwa, who took over from Saka Saula as NURTW chairman in Lagos State, among others.

In his response to these questions, Junaid said he confirmed to his interrogators that “the activities of all these characters were of public knowledge in Lagos State between 2004 and 2006”.

He said it was an open secret in Lagos State between 2004 and 2006 that funds were disbursed by two of the defendants to a group of government officers and operatives to deal with every FERMA operative found on Lagos roads.

Junaid further alleged that one of the defendants, corroborating his story, also confessed to the existence of the ‘Team Lagos’ killer squad “and the assemblage of such violent and murderous, illegal and unlawful team of thugs under his watch and claiming that they were used to tame troublesome transport operators on Lagos roads”.

However, “due to the influence of these defendants and the compromising position of the investigators at the Federal Central Investigations Department (FCID) Alagbon, some of the defendants were only cautioned and made to rewrite another statement to the police, while their freely confessed statement which could have assisted the police in its attempt to unravel the actual killers were discarded by the Police at Alagbon Close, Lagos.”

The case, suit NO: FHC/L/CS/1371/14, is due to be heard by Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia at the Federal High Court Lagos on March 19.