• Police apologise to Ijaw leader
  • North Central PDP leaders meet Senate president

Deji Elumoye and Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set up an investigative panel to probe last Tuesday’s police invasion of the Abuja residence of the elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.

This is coming as the police yesterday apologised to Clark and paraded the alleged informant, one Ismail Yakubu, a native of Waru village in Apo district, Abuja, for giving false information to the police that led to the search of the Abuja residence of Clark.

Saraki in a statement yesterday described as unwarranted the police search of the home of the nonagenarian, and called for an open and comprehensive investigation into the incident.

The incident, he said, was an “unwarranted harassment of the statesman,” who is known for being very vocal in expressing his views on national issues.

He added that the incident must not be be covered up without the public knowing all the details, particularly concerning the officer who gave the order, who signed the police search warrant and the officers who executed it as well as what the objective was meant to serve.

According to him, “Chief Edwin Clark, a former minister in the General Yakubu Gowon administration, is not just anybody. Yes, he is not above the law. If there is a genuine reason for his home to be searched by law enforcement agencies, nobody will object to it. However, as it now appears, for the police to conduct a raid on the home of a man of that age on the pretence that they were looking for arms and eventually, the claim turned out to be a hoax, then something must be amiss.”

Saraki, while further condemning the police action, also described it as a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.

“This type of action by the police coming at this time when we are preparing for election is not reflecting well on the country. Such actions constitute a threat to democracy. They represent gross abuse of state institutions. Now that the Inspector General of Police (IG) has denied that the raid was never authorised, the next move should be a thorough, transparent investigation into the Clark’s incident to prevent future occurrence.

“This kind of ugly development must stop. This country experienced peaceful change in 2015 because the government in power allowed democracy to work. If the government had allowed the flagrant abuse and misuse of state institutions to be the norm, we would not have had the change that occurred,” the Senate president stated.

Saraki further reminded the government of its recent commitment to world leaders on the need to create a peaceful and conducive atmosphere necessary for credible, free and fair elections where citizens can freely exercise their franchise, devoid of intimidation, suppression and abuse of their fundamental human rights.

The police yesterday paraded the alleged informant, one Ismail Yakubu, a native of Waru village in Apo district, Abuja, for giving false information to the police that led to the search of the Abuja residence of Clark.

Speaking during his parade by the police at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, the informant gave a detailed accounts of how he got information that there were arms in Clark’s house.

Yakubu, 45, said he was on his way last Monday to receive a consignment from an anonymous caller around the ECOWAS area in Asokoro when the taxi he boarded ran into a blockade around Haile Selassie street in Asokoro, Abuja.

He said on enquiry, he was told by the taxi driver that the blockade was caused by a truck entering house number 43 Haile Selassie street.

He added that the driver of the taxi categorically told him that the truck contained arms, and being a citizen of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and going by the relative peace in the FCT, he took it upon himself to report the matter to the police.

“I did not have access to the STS to report the matter that Monday evening, so I came on Tuesday and report the matter to Inspector Sada,” he said.

Yakubu insisted he was innocent of any crime, adding that as a citizen, he was bound to give information to security agencies that would help curtail or prevent the commission of crime.

But, the police who condemned the raid, particularly due to the involved officers’ failure to follow due process of the law in carrying out such search, said the police officers, who are currently under investigation, would be punished according to the law if convicted of any misconduct.

Force Public Relations Officer, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jimoh Moshood, said: “Notwithstanding, the facts that on daily basis the Nigeria Police Force across the country receives series information from members of the public which are promptly used to prevent and detect crimes and criminalities, the Force will not condone misconducts by any of its personnel that runs contrary to the rule of law.

“The Police, therefore, have the statutory rights to execute a duly obtained search warrant in any premises where it has actionable intelligence or information that incriminating items or exhibits used to commit crime or about to be used for crime with the aims of recovering them to prevent the commission of such crime or to detect the crime that have been committed.

“Any officer who is to carry out the execution of search warrant must follow the laid down procedures within the law. Where such is not followed, such an officer must be made to face the consequences of violating the rule of law.

“The officer who led the team has been queried, and the three Inspectors are currently undergoing orderly trial for the appropriate punishment to be meted out on them.”

Moshood, while reiterating the position of the police over the embarrassment the search has caused, added that the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, had already sent a high powered delegation led by a DIG and other senior police officers to apologise to the elder statesman over the
search.

Meanwhile, Saraki Wednesday met with the leaders of the North Central zone of the party in Abuja.

The zone has also resolved to produce a consensus candidate among the three aspirants jostling for the number one position in the country.

They also mandated the zonal leaders to engage leaders of the two other zones- North-east and North-west

The meeting, which was part of the consultative meetings embarked upon by Saraki in the last one month towards the realisation of his presidential ambition, took place at the Banquet hall of Ibro Grand Hotel in Zone 5 area of Abuja.

Sources told THISDAY that the close-door meeting which lasted from 3 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. was presided over by PDP National Vice Chairman, North Central, Mr. Theophillus Dakas-Sham.

Saraki, who is from the North Central zone like two other PDP presidential aspirants- former Senate President David Mark and former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang- used the forum to intimate the party’s zonal leaders on why he is running for president and the need for the zone to give him total support.

At the end of the meeting, it was resolved that the zone will produce a consensus candidate among the three jostling for the number one position bearing in mind that the zone has all it takes to produce the next president.

They also mandated the zonal leaders to engage leaders of the two other zones- North-east and North-west-on the need for them to back the consensus candidate of the North Central zone.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Dakas-Sham said although the zone is regarded as a conglomerate of minority groups, it has always been powerful with an array of performing sons and daughters.

He specifically mentioned the achievements of Senator David Mark when he held sway for eight years as Senate President from 2007 to 2015 and the leadership prowess of Saraki since he became the Senate President in June 2015.

Dakas- Sham emphasised that the time is ripe for the zone to produce the next President of the country having assisted other zones in the past in this regard.

Also speaking, Saraki said 2019 poll is all about winning the soul of Nigeria saying nothing will be more important to Nigerians now than to rescue the country.

He promised that collectively the country’s democracy will not die at this particular time.

The aspirant also promised to improve the standard of living of Nigerians and also bring development to the nation if voted in as President in February, 2019.

Those at the consultative meeting include former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmadu Ali; Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, Senator Wadil Jubril; former governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida and his Kogi State counterpart, Captain Idris Wada and former Minister of Sport, Mr. Simon Sango.

Others include Senators Jeremiah Useni, Dino Melaye, Ahmed Ogembe, Atai Idoko and Philip Dunka.

Two members of the House of Representatives namely Hons Rasaq Atunwa and Tajudeen Yusuf were also at the meeting.

Saraki who made public his presidential ambition last Thursday had within a week held consultative meetings with all the PDP governors in both the South-east and South-south and Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ondo State.

Earlier before his declaration, Saraki had in the last one month held consultative meetings with three former Presidents- Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonanathan- at their Minna, Abeokuta and Abuja homes, respectively.