In this no-holds-barred report, a special team of Saturday Telegraph correspondents, detailed from the Lagos head office of the newspaper, unraveled who the Offa robbery kingpin, Ayoade Akinnibosun is.
Until his arrest by the police, Ayoade Akinibosun, the self-confessed leader of the robbery gang that killed 33 people in Offa, Kwara State, during the deadly April 5, 2018 operation, was a lord unto himself, especially in Oro and its environ.
Although said to be a native of Ondo State, the robbery suspect who police claimed to have been a political foot soldier for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had lived in Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, for the better part of the last 15 years.
Indeed, his stay at Oro had been so long that a Facebook friend, on January 14, 2011, having seen him dressed in Islamic attire, jocularly wrote: “Ondo Kwara in… Christ Muslim… which make we call you?” And in reaction to another post on September 12, 2011, where a friend had referred to him as a ‘typical Ondo guy from Ojomu family’, Ayoade replied: “Sorry, you made a mistake. Who told you that I am from Ondo?”
Trip to his alma mater
Investigations by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the suspect became a reference point in Oro around 2003, when he enrolled for studies at the College of Education in the ancient town. After completing his NCE course in 2006, Ayoade went further into a Distance Learning Programme of the University of Ado-Ekiti, which incidentally was also being hosted by the college in Oro, Registry staff at the college told our investigating team. According to information gathered from the school, Akinibosun later graduated with a Second Class lower grade in Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) in Guidance and Counselling, in 2009.
The school officials who pleaded anonymity gave the suspect’s initial details at the school to include his date of birth being December 23, 1980 and hometown as ‘India Town’, Ondo State.
It was at Oro that Ayoade met Ibikunle Ogunleye, popularly known as Arrow, at the Ekiti State University, Oro campus, where they both studied Guidance and Counselling.
But the seed of his involvement in crime seemed to have been planted while at the College of Education, going by statements gleaned from his Facebook page. In one of such comments, one of his Facebook friends (name withheld) said: “AY, it is a pity you are ending this way. I remember in 2004, back at Oro when you and others came to me at market centre to join cult.
Remember what I told you guys then after beating me up. Mr. Ola is dead now but remember that he and chief told you to tread softly. “I am sad and wept for you. No girl you guys eyed could go scot-free because you had backups.
Where are your backups now? Where are the leaders now? Pity, I just pray God will have mercy on you.”
Also, a lady who described herself as a former course mate of the suspect during his NCE days recalled in a chat with some newsmen that ‘AY’ as the suspect is fondly called, “used to be a gentle and easygoing chap, until he was alleged to have joined a cult group and he transformed into a terror overnight.” According to the lady, thereafter, AY became a terror in town.
She said: “If you were in school that time, you will know that the fear of AY was the beginning of wisdom. “Just don’t pray to get into his bad books, not even if you are a lecturer or on the school security team. He was lord on campus.”
Most residents who spoke on the case said they only knew him as a political thug, and that no one could have associated him with robbery. He was well known in town, and even beyond as he mingled with the high and mighty in the political circle.
He was said to have been a frequent face in prominent relaxation spots in the town. Indeed, he was still active in the social circle in the community as late as May 16, 2018, about 41 days after the robbery. He appeared at the final ceremony of a football competition organised by a local politician on the grounds of Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran.
Dressed in a purple caftan, the suspect had time to photo shoot with some of the kids in the tournament, an event posted online by some political groups. Those familiar with him claimed he usually took tramadol and smoke heavily. He was also said to be respectful, easygoing and humane, unless offended.
“That is when you will see the terror he can unleash”, one source said. A community member was quoted by a section of the media during the week as saying that, “Ayo is a very respectful and easygoing guy.
He was one of the most popular guys on and off campus; he lived large in Oro and the entire Kwara South and he is a lavish spender. I know him to be a political thug; it is, however a surprise to hear that he is a notorious armed robber.
I’m still finding it hard to believe.” He is said to own a unisex salon in Osogbo, Osun State, where he settled his family. His first car was a Honda Accord popularly called Baby Boy but he later acquired a Mercedes-Benz Compressor which he used until he got a new Lexus SUV allegedly few months before the robbery.
Friends divided on Facebook
Akinibosun’s humane side was demonstrated in his January 26, 2018 birthday message to his mother, which he posted online. In the message, he said: “Happy birthday to the most amazing woman in the world! Thank you for praying for me, relieving my pain and always being by my side.
“I owe you my life. Everything I have, I have thanks to you. You taught me how to dream big and fulfill all my dreams. Happy birthday, my super mom! “There’s no diamond, which shines brighter, than your eyes, there’s no star, which illuminates the world just as you illuminate my life.
Happy birthday to the best mother! My sweet mom! It doesn’t matter how many years pass by, I will always be your favourite child, who needs your hugs and kind words. I wish you happiness on your birthday.”
But while several people are pouring angst against the suspect and his team, a friend of Facebook said there is no need to curse or swear on him. The friend wrote: “You don’t need to curse or swear for him! He has already been apprehended and I want you to know that nobody is perfect! I don’t blame him at all; he is just trying to survive in this wicked country/world. “The most painful thing is that 33 people were killed. Had it been nobody was killed in the operation, it would have been fair!
I’m very sure that 90 per cent of those people commenting here are into some criminal activities. “AY, I feel for you. Stay strong and be ready to dance to the music! May God see you through this temptation! And may the soul of the people you killed in the operations forgive you.
“The deed had been done already! You’ve got nothing to regret! Life goes on” Security operatives have however sealed the residence of a popular politician in Kwara State, Otunba Olabode Oyedepo, popularly called ‘De Way,’ for allegedly serving as abode for Akinnibosun, Ibikunle and a third suspect in the robbery saga, Adeola Abraham. The trio were said to have been living in the property, popularly called Villa, located in the GRA area of Oro.
The owner of the building had relocated to Canada about three years ago after failing to make inroad into the politics of the state. His last attempt was to secure the senatorial ticket for Kwara South. It was gathered that a family member of the politician had allegedly relocated friends and families of two of the suspects from the property before security operatives arrived to seal it.
Oro town disown suspects
Meanwhile a traditional chief in the community, Chief Simeon Olayemi, has reiterated that none of the suspects in the robbery is an indigene of Oro town. Olayemi, who is the Asanlu of Oro said there was need to reinforce what the National President of the community’s development association, Chief Bode Alayoku, has said earlier on the identity of the suspects.
“In fact, at the initial stage, when the first accused, Ogunleye aka ‘Arrow’, traced his origin to Oro, we wrote a disclaimer signed by Chief Bode Alayoku, the National President of Oro Community. That name Ogunleye does not exist in any family here.
Surprisingly, last week, another four suspects were paraded by the Nigeria police in Abuja, linking their origin to Oro. We did our findings and we discovered that none of them is from our town. “I am disheartened and pained to the marrow each time I heard my town connected with the robbery suspects. People have been calling us from all over the world that we should follow the case to the letter. Oro people are known all over the globe for being industrious in all areas and we are saddened by recent development.”