Saraki Denies Role in Offa Robbery as Police Invite Him

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  • Senate President’s security detail withdrawn
  • Dogara’s security aides reduced, not withdrawn, says Namdas
  • Omokri: Money stolen in the robbery, not up to what Saraki gives to charity during Sallah

By Deji Elumoye, James Emejo in Abuja, Senator Iroegbu in Abuja, Alike Ejiofor in Lagos and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has denied having any link with the armed robbers that attacked banks and a police station in Offa, Kwara State, saying the plot to link him with the armed robbery suspects was concocted by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris to embarrass him.

Saraki, who reacted yesterday to a press conference addressed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Moshood Jimoh, linking him to the Offa robbery, urged the public to disregard this claim as a baseless allegation and another ploy by the police to implicate him by all means.

In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President recalled that on May 16, 2018, he had alerted the Senate about the information passed on to him by his State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatai Ahmed, over a plot by Idris, to frame him up.

According to Saraki, the Inspector General of Police had planned to get some suspected cultists arrested in Ilorin to implicate him.

Saraki argued that the timely leakage of the plot, in that case, aborted the use of the suspected cultists to implicate him, adding that it is the Offa bank robbery suspects that are about to be used.

“Let it be known that there is no way I could have been associated with armed robbery against my people. When the Offa robbery incident happened, I was the first top public official to pay a visit to the place and right there in the palace of the traditional ruler, I put a call through to this same Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the IGP, requesting him to make certain specific security arrangements as demanded by the people,” he said.

“This plot is concocted to embarrass me and, in the mind of the IGP, it is his own response after his refusal to honour the invitation by the National Assembly, headed by me, for him to come and offer explanations on the rampant killings and violence across the country. Like the earlier one, this frame-up will also fail as I hereby state categorically that I have no link with any band of criminals,” Saraki added.

The Senate President added that as a person who has the utmost respect for the rule of law and all constitutional institutions, he will honour the police invitation when it is formally extended to him.

“It is however sad that this abuse of the criminal investigation process aimed at intimidating and over-overawing the legislature, thereby obstructing it from doing its work, is a big threat to our democracy,” he added.

It appears there is no let off for embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, following the latest directives from the police and Department of State Security (DSS) that his security details should be withdrawn with effect from today.

THISDAY authoritatively gathered that a formal letter for the withdrawal of the security personnel consisting of police and Department of State Security, DSS, personnel numbering about 20 was at the weekend sent to the office of the Senate President by both Police IG and DG of the DSS.

The affected officers and men were directed by the letter to report at the FCT Commands of both the DSS and Police for further briefing by 10 am today.

The letter, THISDAY further gathered, was silent on why the security operatives are being withdrawn with no information about whether the operatives will be replaced or how soon they will be back to their duty post.

Among those affected by the withdrawal are Saraki’s Chief Security Officer, CSO, Aide de Camp, ADC, Chief Security Detail, and Police and DSS personnel guarding Saraki’s office at Three Arms Zone and residence at Maitama.

In a swift reaction to rumours surrounding the withdrawal of security details attached to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas yesterday refuted reports that security aides attached to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara had been withdrawn by the Federal Government.

In a telephone conservation with THISDAY last night, Namdas clarified that though it was true that the number of security details attached to the Speaker had been reduced, they were not out-rightly withdrawn as being speculated.

He added that both men from the State Security Services (SSS) and the Department of State Security (DSS) were cut in the latest development.

The withdrawal of Saraki’s security details is also coming against the backdrop of an invitation by the Nigerian Police Force to the Senate President inviting for questioning over the allegations levelled against him by suspects arrested over the Offa Bank robbery incident in Kwara State.

The Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), ACP Moshood Jimoh, who disclosed this in a statement released yesterday, also accused the Kwara State government of trying to conceal evidence that links Saraki to the deadly robbery attack.

Jimoh said that the investigation into the robbery and gruesome killings of more than 33 innocent persons in Offa, Kwara State on April 05, 2018 as directed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, has made significant progress, successes and more revelations have been recorded.

He said that the gang leaders and some of the principal suspects arrested for their active participation in the robbery and the killing of innocent persons have made confessional statements admitting to the various criminal roles they and their sponsors played in this dastard and heinous crime.

To this end, the Police are pointing accusing fingers at Saraki and Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, as having links with the suspects of the robbery incident.

The Senate President had earlier raised the alarm intimating President Muhammadu Buhari of a plot by the IG of police to frame him in the attack and killings.

Jimoh in the statement said: ” The Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki is being invited by the Nigeria Police Force to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape, Abuja to answer to the allegations levelled against him from the confessions of the five gang leaders, namely; Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez, Niyi Ogundiran and some of the other 17 suspects arrested for direct involvement and active participation in the Offa Bank Robbery and the gruesome killing of 33 innocent persons, including (some pregnant women and nine Police personnel).

“The Personal Assistant (Political) to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan, who is privy to information that the Police is looking for the Lexus Jeep as an exhibit used in the Offa Bank Robbery and the killing of 33 innocent persons directed one Adeola Omiyale to relocate the Lexus Jeep to Government House, Ilorin. The PA (Political) is currently in Police custody and has made useful statement assisting the Police in further investigation into the case. A revolver pistol and pump action gun were recovered by the Police Investigation Team from the Personal Assistant (Political) to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan’s farm where he directed his brother to hide them after his arrest by the Police.”

“In order to conceal evidence, the Chief of Staff to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Yusuf Abdulwahab who has been arrested and taken into Police custody, arranged the removal of the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” from the exhibit vehicle and also registered the exhibit Lexus Jeep used in the Offa bank robbery and the killing of 33 innocent persons in the name of Ayoade AKinnibosun, the overall gang commander of the Offa bank robbery while the Ayoade AKinnibosun was already in Police custody for more than six days before the registration of the vehicle.”

“The five gang leaders namely; Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez, Niyi Ogundiran and some of the other 17 suspects arrested for direct involvement and active participation in the Offa bank robbery and the gruesome killing of 33 innocent persons including (some pregnant women and nine Police personnel) admitted, confessed and volunteered statements that they were political thugs to the Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sen. Bukola Saraki and the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Alh. Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“The arrests of the above mentioned five gang leaders and 17 others were made possible after the arrest of two principal suspects (Kunle Ogunleye, a.k.a Arrow 35yrs and Michael Adikwu an Ex-Convict) whose pictures were captured by CCTV in one of the banks during the banks’ robbery were circulated to the media and the public. The two principal suspects confessed to being among the suspects led by the five gang leaders listed in paragraph 2 above to carry out the Offa Banks Robbery, the attack on the Divisional Police Headquarters, Offa and the killing of 3 innocent persons on the 5th of April, 2018.”

The Force PRO stated that during the interrogation, the five gang leaders mentioned in paragraph 2 further confessed and volunteered statements that they carried out the bank robberies, the attack on the Divisional Police Headquarters in Offa and the killing of the deceased   during the robbery of the six banks, namely; First Bank Offa, Guaranty Trust Bank Offa, ECO Bank Offa, Zenith Bank Offa, Union Bank Offa, Ibolo Micro Finance Bank Offa and the Divisional Police Headquarters.

Jimoh said that millions of Naira from the Banks and 21 AK47 Rifles belonging to the Nigeria Police Force in the Armoury of the Police Divisional Headquarters, Offa were admitted to have been carted away by the gang leaders and the other principal suspects during the banks’ robbery.

According to him, the gang leaders confessed and volunteered statements to the Police investigators, giving a clear account of how they planned and carried out the banks’ robbery operation in Offa, the attack on the Police Division in Offa and how they killed the innocent persons during the robbery.

He said that the gang leaders further confessed during the investigation that they are political thugs under the name Youth Liberation Movement a.k.a “Good Boys” admitting and confessing to having been sponsored with firearms, money and operational vehicles by the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State, Alh. Abdulfatah Ahmed.

The Police Spokesman said that in the course of discreet investigation into the confessions of these five gang leaders and the other 17 principal suspects, a Lexus jeep GX-300 (Ash Colour) with a sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” used by the gang leader (Ayoade Akinnibosun ‘M’ 37Yrs) during the bank robbery and the killing was taken to Government House, Ilorin on 16th May, 2018 where the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, the State of Harmony” was removed before another plate number (Reg. No. Kwara, KMA 143 RM) registered in the name of Ayoade AKinnibosun the Overall Commander of the Offa bank robbery was then attached to the vehicle to cover up the identity of the said vehicle.

He said the exhibit vehicle was subsequently recovered from the premises of the Min. of Environmental and Forestry in Ilorin, Kwara State. While the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” removed from the vehicle was recovered from one Adeola Omiyale who drove the said Lexus Jeep to Government House, Ilorin immediately after the Bank Robbery.

Jimoh noted that investigation is ongoing and effort is being intensified to arrest other suspects still at large. All suspects involved will be arraigned in court for prosecution on completion of the investigation.

He assured that the Nigeria Police Force will continue to ensure that the rule of law prevails in every case under police investigation and every offender is brought to justice.

He insisted that the 22 suspects now in police custody and the “Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki is being invited to report to the Police to answer allegations indicting him from confessions of five gang leaders arrested for active participation in Offa bank robbery and killing of 33 innocent persons”.

Police listed the suspects to include: Ayoade Akinnibosun a.k.a AY ‘M’ 37Yrs – Gang Leader (Coordinated the Killings) from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State;   Ibukunle Ogunleye ‘M’ 36Yrs – Gang Leader, Killed Two Persons. From Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State;   Adeola Abraham ‘M’ 35Yrs – Gang Leader, Killed Five Persons. From Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State; Salawudeen Azeez ‘M’ 49Yrs – Gang Leader, Killed Two (2) Persons. From Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State;   Niyi Ogundiran ‘M’ 37Yrs – Gang Leader, Killed Two Persons (Latest Confession). From Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State; and Michael Adikwu ‘M’ 30Yrs – Sectional Gang Leader, Killed 22 Persons, mostly at the Police Station.

Others are:   Kabiru Afolabi ‘M’ 26Yrs – Principal Suspect; Omoseni Kassim ‘M’ 28Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Kayode Opadokun ‘M’ 35Yrs – Principal Suspect; Kazeem Abdulrasheed ‘M’ 36Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Azeez Abdullahi ‘M’ 27Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Adewale Popoola ‘M’ 22Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Adetoyese Muftau ‘M’ 23Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Alexander Reuben ‘M’ 39Yrs – Principal Suspect; Richard Buba Terry ‘M’ 23Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Peter Jasper Kuunfa ‘M’ 23Yrs – Principal Suspect;     Ikechukwu Ebuka Nnaji ‘M’ 29Yrs – Principal Suspect; Moses Godwin ‘M’ 28Yrs – Principal Suspect;   Adeola omiyale ‘M’ 38Yrs. From Isanlu Isin Town, Isin LGA, Kwara State; Femi Idowu ‘M’ 34Yrs; Alabi Olalekan ‘M’ 49Yrs-PA Political to Executive Governor, Kwara State; and Yusuf Abdulwahab ‘M’ 58Yrs –Chief of Staff to Executive Governor, Kwara State.

Jimoh also listed the exhibits to include:   Two AK47 Rifles;   Two Barrette Pistols;   One Pump Action Rifle;   One Revolver Pistol – In Police Custody in Ilorin;   Lexus RX300 Jeep with Reg. No. Kwara, KMA 143 RM belonging to Ayoade Akinnibosun (Gang Leader) – Used for the Bank Robbery; Mercedes Benz – Compressor with Reg. No. Lagos LT496 KJA belonging to Ayoade Akinnibosun (Gang Leader) – Used for the Bank Robbery; One (Toyota Prado Jeep with Reg. No. 19KWGH belonging to the PA Political to the Executive Governor, Kwara State – In Police Custody in Ilorin;   One Toyota Camry Saloon Car with Reg. No. LRN 481 FE – In Police Custody in Ilorin; The Cash Sum of Six Hundred Thousand Naira (N600,000.00) – In Police Custody in Ilorin;   Four Phones of victims recovered; and     One Sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony”.

Ahmed Reacts

However, in reaction to the allegation of complicity in the robbery attacks and other criminal activities in his state, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed yesterday denied police allegations of sponsoring, funding, arming or otherwise supporting political thuggery.

In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede yesterday in response to a Nigeria Police statement accusing him of sponsoring political thugs allegedly linked to the Offa Armed Robbery incident, Alhaji Ahmed described the allegations as false and rejected his alleged indictment by the Nigeria Police or the armed robbery suspects in their custody.

Governor Ahmed affirmed that while the state government has empowered several youth groups under its acclaimed Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) scheme, neither he nor the state government can be held liable for how beneficiaries utilize the credit.

He, therefore, urged the police to complete their investigations and charge the suspects to court soon in line with the dictates of the rule of law.

Meanwhile, Reno Omokri, former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, said the accusation against Saraki showcases the fallacious tendencies of the police. “They now want us to believe that the distinguished Senate President Bukola Saraki, is the mastermind of the deadly Offa Bank robbery.

Omokri said allegation against Mr. Saraki begs the question. Adding, “does the Buhari government even reason? The amount of money stolen during the Offa Bank Robbery is not up to the sum of monies that Bukola Saraki gives out in charity to the masses during Sallah and other Islamic festive occasions. The Senate President also sits atop a N100 billion annual budget. Why would he sponsor a bank robbery?”