One Yusuf Isah, an indigene of Okene, in Kogi State,confessed on Friday before newsmen at Force headquarters that an armed gang he worked for was paid N50m by some people to kill a popular cleric Apostle Johnson Suleman the founder of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Auchi, Edo State.
He said his gang members trailed Apostle Johnson Suleman for months before attacking him along the Benin-Auchi Road, on October 21, 2022 but Suleman escaped the gruesome murder in which six persons including three police personnel in the Apostle’s convoy were killed in a hot afternoon.
Suleman said he did not know how police arrested him and still today can not figure out how it happened.
I’m ready to become a Christian if cleric can forgive me, he added.
The suspect, who before now said he was the third in command in hierarchy of the deadly gang group, said two of the members, the leader and the deputy, actually relocated to Auchi, where the pastor resides to carry out proper surveillance on Suleman’s movements before they struck.
Isah,who spoke from police custody, where he was paraded before newsmen said in an interview that but for God’s providence and protection upon Suleman, the cleric would have been a dead man by now because as he put it, “the operation was vicious and brutal.”
He said the gang put in all their experiences to bear on the operation with enough arms and ammunitions and was carried out in broad daylight.
The 32-year-old man, who claims to be a plumber, said that some people had contacted their leaders and paid over N50 million for the operation. He, however, said he didn’t know who those people are, as he was not among the gang members that got and negotiated the deal.
He said it was after the gang leaders had concluded negotiations with the people that they made it public to members of the gang. To ensure the operation went smoothly, he said they acquired more weapons, ammunitions and commenced training so as not to miss their target.
Yusuf Isah who is married with two children now claimed to be contrite and remorseful, said they gang members stayed in the bush while their bosses carried out surveillance on the cleric. He said they came out only when they were ordered to do so after over one month.
In this interview after he was paraded by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumiyiwa Adejobi, at the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) office, the suspect said he and his gang members had not known peace since the attack on Apostle Suleman.
He also said that two of their leaders died suddenly and that he could not explain how the police got him arrested as he did everything possible to evade arrest.
I was arrested for the attempted murder on Apostle Johnson Suleman. The operation took place at Auchi and I am part of the seven-member gang that took part in the attack on October 21, 2022.
We were sent to kill the pastor but I don’t have much detail about the whole incident because I was not involved in the negotiations and discussions. It was our leaders – Illyasu and Labista – that were contacted by the people who wanted to kill the pastor.
“I took part in the operation proper because I have been a member of the gang before now. Normally we do keep secrets and it is not everyone that brings job for us that we discuss openly for security reasons. It was only the two of them that had and held the information and the rest of us knew nothing about it. But we actually carried out the operation.
What happened was that before we carried out the attack, the two of them – that is Labista and Illyasu, had been on the trail of Apostle Suleman without the cleric knowing for over one month because the two of them relocated to Auchi. They relocated to Auchi to enable them carry out proper and adquate surveillance on the pastor, his movement and other engagements. This they did for over one month.
So, on that very day of the attack, they have done enough surveillance and were sure he was out of town and that he would be returning either Thursday or Friday which October 20 or 21. But unfortunately he did not return on October 20. It was on October 21 that he actually returned.
On that fateful day, Labista waited for him at a particular junction some kilometres away from where we were to carry out the attack. And when he saw the convoy coming, he called us and that was how we now prepared and came out to the road fully armed.
Already we had arranged our rifles and we had dressed up, waiting for his call. As a matter of fact, we were on standby.
So when he called us, we moved out from our hiding place and came to the road in Auchi.
And immediately we sighted the convoy, we opened fire and honestly God really helped that man and he managed to escape. In fact what happened there on that day is beyond human comprehension because the attack was so ruthless and so vicious that a normal human being would not have been able escape that kind of attack. But he escaped the attack.
In fact he even hit us. He hit me in particular with his vehicle. Honestly I did not believe he was the one driving until I was arrested. It was the police who let me know that he was the one driving.
Even up till now I cannot believe because what happened that day, honestly speaking, I cannot explain it. Even after the operation, things have not been well with us. It was after the operation that we lost two of our leaders mysteriously and that was how I became the leader. Even now we have not been able to carry out any operation.
I really cannot tell you how I was arrested because I don’t know how exactly it happened. The kind of precautions that we takes because of the nature of our job, I tell you it is difficult for the police or any security group to arrest us.
I don’t make telephone calls and the phone that I am using I have never used it to contact anybody. We specialise in using the chat platform telegram. That is what we use to communicate with each other. Telegrams uses users name, not phone number like Whatsapp. Even the line that we are using to buy data, we bought a registered line. We did not register the number ourselves and we did not open any account with any identity.
So all I can say is that it is only God that wanted to track me down and get me arrested because of the calibre of the person that we attacked.
According to what I heard, the total money for the operation is over N50 million, but I know it might be more than that but you know how people behave when it comes to money. Since I don’t have contact with the people that brought the job, I don’t have much information on the true amount
I honestly don’t know why God is still preserving my life that I am still alive till now. But I believe God wants me to repent; that is why I am still alive. I feel very remorseful. I just wish that I can see Apostle Suleman one on one so I can seek forgiveness from him. I am really sorry. It has been hell for me and the entire group as a whole since the attack. It has not been easy for us. We lost two of our leaders. After the death of Illyasu, our second in command died also and I am the next leader in the hierarchy of the group and I have been arrested.
Apart from the attack on Apostle Suleman, we kidnapped a popular oil marketer at Jaet and collected N70million as ransom. and I was given my share.
Normally we don’t share money equally. We share based on seniority and your participation in operations. That was my first outing with them, so they gave me N2million.
If you can help contact Apostle Suleman, please help me beg him and that I am ready to repent of my sins and start worshiping at his church. I am a Muslim but I am ready to repent and become a Christian.
I am married and have two children. My wife and son are also in detention because they were arrested after my wife tried to fight with the policemen that came to arrest me.
She also made it difficult for the police to recover the weapons that we used for the operations because she told them she didn’t know where I hid them. But she later confessed and took them to where we normally hide weapons. So she was arrested for that.