The police have confirmed the transfer of suspects linked to a string of killings in Kwara State to Abuja.
But police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, said the transfer was not because of Senate President Bukola Saraki. He, however, warned that an alarm raised by Mr Saraki over the development could compromise investigation and demoralise families of those killed by the criminal gang.
The suspects were arrested in Kwara State and paraded before the press in Ilorin, the state capital, last week Friday, Mr Moshood, an assistant police commissioner, said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES.
"The Force therefore wishes to categorically state that, there is no iota of truth in the allegation and false assertion by the Senate President of plot against him by the IGP to implicate the Kwara State Government and the Senate President in any criminal matter," the official said.
"Until investigation is concluded, any person (s) or group(s) who tries to interfere in the investigation process by action or utterances is committing an offence," he added.
Mr Moshood listed the suspects arrested and paraded in Ilorin before being moved to Abuja today as follows: Abolaji Safti Ojulari of Kankatu area, Ilorin; Lanre Mohammed Soliu a.k.a Askari of Ile Nda Compound, Ilorin; Azeez Moyaki of Moyaki Compound, Gambari Area Ilorin and Suleiman Babatunde of Gambari Area, Ilorin.
Yusuf Habeeb of Kangile Village, Kulende, Ilorin and Umar Yahaya of Kangile Village, Kulende, Ilorin are also amongst the suspects arrested.
"The suspects admitted and confessed before the press and the public to have killed eleven (11) innocent persons in Kwara State and other States of the country," Mr Moshood said.
Those allegedly killed by the "assassin gang" according to Mr Moshood included: Bukola Ajikobi, killed on 18/01/2016 at Ajikobi area in Ilorin; Azeez Lawal, killed in February, 2018 at Oja Oba area of Ilorin; Lateef (Surname unknown) killed February 2018 at Ode Alfa Nda area of Ilorin; Jamiu (Surname unknown) killed in February 2018 at Idi Ape area, Ilorin.
Others were: Segun (Surname unknown) killed in September, 2017 at Kankatu area of Ilorin; Wasiu (Surname unknown) killed in September 29, 2016 at Shao Garage of Ilorin; Musiliu (Surname unknown) killed in February, 2018 at Shao Area Ilorin; Bayo Ajia, killed in January 18, 2018 at Taiwo Road, Ilorin; Another Lateef killed in January 2016 at Baboko Area of Ilorin; Abbey a student of Kwara Polytechnic killed in April, 2017 at Niger Road, Ilorin and Lanre (Surname unknown) killed on 23rd August, 2015 at Isale Aluko Area of Ilorin.
Mr Moshood said there was nothing particularly curious or special about the transfer, saying suspects arrested over the mayhem and killings of innocent people in Ile-Ife, Osun State and those arrested in Southern Kaduna crisis and Zaki-biam killings in Benue State were all transferred to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for further investigation before they were arraigned in court.
The statement comes hours after Mr Saraki told senators at the plenary on Wednesday that he had uncovered an alleged plot by the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to frame him up in the heinous activities of the suspects.
Mr Saraki implied that the alleged scheme might have been informed by the ongoing stand-off between the Senate and Mr Idris. The police chief had rejected three different invitations by the Senate to answer questions about a slew of national crises which range from the ongoing killings linked to suspected herdsmen and the arrest and prosecution of Dino Melaye, a senator from Kogi State.
"The information reaching him from the commissioner of police (is) that they have been directed by IGP to bring them to Abuja," Mr Sakari said of Kwara governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. whom he said tipped him off on the plot.
"With the information that he has, they would find how to alter their statement already made in Ilorin and try and implicate the state government and particularly myself. I felt that as we speak now, these suspects are already here in Abuja.
"These acts I don't know whether to call it desperation or intimidation. All actions to undermine our democracy (are) a recipe for anarchy because we are doing our work by asking officials to obey the law, due process and subject themselves to constituted authority.
"I think it is important (we bring) this dangerous development to your attention, country and the international authority of the impunity we are undergoing in this country and the danger to our democracy," Mr Saraki added.
Subsequently, the Senate agreed to send a nine-member delegation to urgently see President Muhammadu Buhari about the development.
Mr Moshood dismissed Mr Saraki's claim as "unbelievable, unverifiable and unfounded,".
Yet, the police chief refused to categorically clarify whether or not the suspects named Mr Saraki in their confessional statements or if the Senate President is in any way under investigation in connection to the specific charges against the suspects. The spokesperson did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES' request for clarification about this Wednesday night.
The police, however, noted that the suspects targeted and killed their victims "on the instructions of their sponsors."