Nigeria: Police Invitation, an Attempt to Stop Party Switch, Says Saraki

Bukola Saraki
24 July 2018

Abuja — In what is seen as the last desperate move to intimidate and stop him from leaving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has summoned Senate President Bukola Saraki to appear at the office of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) office in Abuja Tuesday over the robbery incident that took place in Offa, Kwara State, in April this year.

But Saraki, in a statement Monday night by his media adviser, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, dismissed the police invitation as a political game, intended to intimidate and force him to remain in a party that revels in criminalising its members.

The invitation letter dated July 23, 2018, which was signed by the IG and addressed to the Senate president, asked Saraki to be at IRT's office at 8a.m. on Tuesday "for further investigation" and "more clarification" on the letter he wrote with reference: CR:3000/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL./130/ 571 dated 4th June 2018 and his letter of response NASS/8th/S/SP/IGP/15/6/18 dated June 7, 2018 on the matter.

In response to the allegations against him, the Senate president had denied any link to the robbery incident, saying that by virtue of his participation in politics, he had a large followership, which makes it impossible for him to know all of them.

He also denied any association with the vehicle allegedly used by the robbers, mentioned in the police letter, and giving any arms to any thug or other persons in Kwara State or anywhere else.

But in his letter to Saraki, the IG stated that "after a careful perusal" of his letter to the police, it was discovered that the statement required further clarification and coupled with the fact that he stated that the full text of the statements of the suspects were not shown to him.

"It is imperative you report to the Police to make further statements after giving you the full text of the statements of the suspects," the police told Saraki in its latest letter to him, adding: "It is in line with the above that you are requested to report to the Head of the Investigation Team at the Intelligence Response Team at Guzape Junction, Asokoro Extension, Abuja on July 24, 2018 at 8a.m. for further investigation on the matter."

The Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) is said to be investigating a case of armed robbery, which occurred on April 5, 2018 during which a gang of dare-devil armed robbers stormed Offa, Kwara State and attacked a police station, robbed six banks, namely First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Ecobank, Zenith Bank, Union Bank and Ibolo Micro Finance Bank.

They killed over 31 persons, including nine police officers and pregnant women, and snatched 21 AK47 rifles.

The police further claimed that during the investigation of the armed robbery by the IRT, CCTV footage of the armed robbery, in one of the banks, captured the image of two persons.

The CCTV footage, which was circulated on the social media, led to the identification of Asakunle Ogunleye and Michael Adikwu, who were tracked and arrested by the police, and said to have made very useful statements and named the five gang leaders who organised the armed robbery.

The police further claimed that some of the five gang leaders made confessional statements, admitting their participation in the robbery and claiming to be political thugs under the name, "Youth Liberation Movement, aka Good Boys."

They were said to have been allegedly sponsored by the Senate president, while the police claimed to have equally discovered that one of the vehicles, a Lexus SUV, used by the gang leader (Ayoade Akinnibosun) had a sticker plate number "'SARAKI' Kwara State of Harmony."

The IG stated that the Lexus SUV was parked in the Government House after the arrest of Ayoade Akinnibosun and in order to conceal evidence, the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kwara State arranged for the removal of the sticker plate number "SARAKI Kwara State of Harmony" from the Lexus SUV and quickly registered it in the name of the suspect, six days after the suspect had been arrested by the police.

IG Idris further alleged in his letter that one Ayoade Akinnibosun 'm' 27 years in his confessional statement stated that "members of his group are political thugs working for Senator Saraki and Governor of Kwara State".

Meanwhile, Saraki stated Monday that the police invitation was a mere afterthought, which was designed to achieve political purpose.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Olaniyonu, he stated that he had it on good authority that the police had already decided on the suspects to arraign in court in Ilorin, Kwara State on Wednesday based on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mohammed U.E., and that the turnaround to invite him was a ploy aimed at scoring cheap political points.

He said: "I have been reliably informed that the police invitation was planned by IG as a ploy to stop an alleged plan by some senators and House of Representatives members from defecting from the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was also said that if I was detained between Tuesday and Wednesday, that will abort the so-called defection plan.

"While I continue to maintain that the issue of my position on the 2019 elections is not a personal decision for me alone to make, it should be noted that all these concoctions and evil plot cannot deter me. Those behind this fresh assault will fail as I have nothing to do with the robbery incident or any criminal matter for that matter.

"I am aware that following a request made by the police on June 13, 2018, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation had written a legal advice dated June 22, 2018, in which he stated on page 5, paragraph (f) that 'For the Senate President and the Kwara State Governor, this office is unable to establish from the evidence in the interim report a nexus between the alleged officers and the suspects'."

He added: "The police have obviously corrupted and politicised their investigations into the Offa robbery incident. They have turned it into an instrument for the party in power to suppress perceived opponents, witch-hunt issue for blackmailing people from freely choosing which platform on which they want to pursue their ambition and a matter for harassing the people whose exit from APC would harm the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections.

"I want to make it apparent that I have no hand in either the robbery incident or any criminal activity. The police in their haste to embarrass me sent the invitation to me at 8pm and requested that I report to the station by 8am tomorrow morning. This obviously demonstrated their desperation as I do not see why they are now in a hurry.

"They also stated in today's letter that because in my response of June 7, 2018 to their own letter written on June 4, 2018, I stated that I was responding simply to the contents of the letter and that the full text of the statement made by the arrested suspects, which they claimed indicted me was not made available to me, they were now including the suspects' statements in the current letter. Yet, instead of including the suspects' statements, they only attached two copies of my own letter to the invitation. No suspect's statement was made available.

"This plot aimed at compelling me and my associates to stay in a party where members are criminalised without just cause, where injustice is perpetrated at the highest level and where there is no respect for constitutionalism is an exercise in futility and it will fail.

"Once again, my confidence in God and our judicial system remains intact and unshaken. The truth shall also prevail in this case."

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