Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah, Adedayo Akinwale, Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The police have dismissed the claim by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu that there was an assassination attempt on his life when unknown persons yesterday broke into his residence, saying the incident was a case of burglary.
Ekweremadu had told the Senate yesterday that his residence was attacked in the early hours of yesterday and alleged that it was an attempt on his life.
The Senate immediately resolved to investigate the incident.
But the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement to journalists that it was a case of burglary.
He explained that one Mohammed Yusuf (of no fixed address) but a native of Kaura Namoda in Zamfara State was arrested and in the custody of the police, while his accomplice simply known as Ali was still at large and wanted by the police.
He stated, “The police has commenced investigation into the crime and the principal suspect Mohammed Yusuf of Kaura Namoda has volunteered confessional statement after interrogation, admitting to the crime and mentioned one Ali (other name unknown) now at large, who escaped from the scene to have carried out the crime along with him.
“Preliminary investigation carried out so far did not reveal assassination attempt on the life of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ekweremadu, and his family but a case of burglary. However, investigation is still ongoing to determine if there is any other motive behind the offence.
“The same suspects had earlier at about 0300hrs broken into the residence of one Mr. Haliru Adamu of No. 38 Denis Osadebey Crescent, APO Legislative Quarters, where they stole phones, jewelry and other valuables before proceeding to the residence of the Deputy Senate President.”
The statement added that both Ekweremadu and Adamu have made statements to the police about the incidents.
Moshood while stating that there was no delay in police intervention in the incident that occurred in the residence of the deputy Senate president, however, disclosed that the four police personnel and a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps on duty at the residence of the deputy Senate president at the time of the incidence had been arrested and currently in detention for investigation for negligent acts and dereliction of duty.
He assured that the outcome of the investigation of the matter would be made public and suspects would be prosecuted.
He added that exhibits recovered from them included motor jack, big screw driver, a big rod, a small kitchen knife and other house breaking implements.
Senate Investigates Incident
The Senate had earlier in the day resolved to investigate the incident after it had been reported by its deputy president, mandating its Committee on Police, headed by Senator Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South), to look into it and report back in the shortest possible time.
This was sequel to a Point of Order (Order 43) raised by Ekweremadu yesterday at the resumption of Senate plenary that there was an assassination attempt on him, his wife and son.
According to him, “It is with gratitude to Almighty God that I will like to tell my colleagues, my constituents and the general public that myself, my wife and my son narrowly escaped assassination in the early hours of this morning.
“It was about 4a.m. on Tuesday that some people evaded the security in my house and got all the way to my room where I was sleeping with my wife – there was a struggle, there was a fight with heavy commotion and by the grace of God, we eventually caught one of them while the rest escaped.”
Ekweremadu expressed concern that several hours after the assassination attempt was reported to top hierarchy of the police, there was no response until several hours after.
Senate President Bukola Saraki in his contribution described the incident as unfortunate especially the late response of the police.
“What is more disturbing is the poor response of the police. I hope the police are not being partisan with the way they treat cases,” he said, directing the Senate Committee on Police to properly investigate the incident and report back to plenary.
PDP, CUPP Express Concern
Reacting to the incident, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) expressed grave concerns over the alleged attack on the deputy Senate president.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, and the national spokesperson of CUPP, Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, in a separate statements, lamented that the latest attack raised fears that certain forces, who had been hostile to Ekweremadu’s political standing, were still bent on silencing him at all cost.
Ologbondiyan said, “The PDP draws the attention of Nigerians to the series of uninvestigated security threats around the person of Senator Ekweremadu. Nigerians could recall that on November 17, 2015, a similar attempt was made on Senator Ekweremadu’s life by some assailants on his way to work.
“Though that attack was reported to the authorities, there have been no investigations by the security agencies, no arrests have been made and no culprit has been brought to book.
“Instead, the senator has been a subject of unrelenting harassments and attacks on his person and office since his emergence as Deputy Senate President, including the May 26, 2017 invasion of his official quarters by security agencies, purportedly in search of phantom caches of arms, and the July 24, 2018 siege of his official residence at Apo Quarters.”
The main opposition party therefore expressed worry about the relentless attack on the deputy Senate president, which it said it believed was part of a scheme to silence him.
It, therefore, demanded an immediate wide-range probe into the alleged attack as well as an assurance from the federal government on the safety of Ekweremadu.
The CUPP also condemned the incident, saying it was worrisome that the attack was coming months after a previous failed attempt on Ekweremadu’s life.
It lamented the increasing attack on key opposition leaders at the ward, local government and state levels, saying nothing had been done to bring the culprits to justice.
According to it, “This careless act of treating the lives of opposition leaders at different levels like chicken is a dangerous signal that can derail the smooth conduct of the 2019 election.”
Dogara Tasks Security Agencies to Prevent Political Assassinations
Following the incident, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, charged security agencies in Nigeria to secure citizens against politically motivated intimidation, coercion and assassinations.
Dogara, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, condemned the alleged attack on Ekweremadu, tasking relevant agencies to work to secure lives and property as the 2019 elections draw closer.
According to him, the incident that took place at Ekweremadu’s Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja resident, points to the fact that nowhere and nobody was safe in the country.
He said, “There is no room for excuses anymore. The security agencies must be alive to their responsibility of securing the lives and properties of Nigerians. This is unacceptable. The police must ensure that the gunman and all those involved are not only apprehended but brought to justice.
“As the 2019 elections draws closer, it is of utmost importance that the police and other security agencies deploy its intelligence to forestall wanton killings and other violent acts that are programmed to cause fear and panic among Nigerians. These kinds of incidents must be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.
“I commiserate with the Ekweremadu family and pray that God will continue to keep them safe.”
In another development, members of the House of Representatives have called on the federal government to urgently facilitate the repatriation of 22 Nigerians reportedly stranded in the Republic of Niger, after escaping slavery in Libya.
The lawmakers also tasked the committees on Foreign Affairs, and Interior to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the quick return of the stranded Nigerians and to also ensure that the returnees are trained in entrepreneurship to enable them reintegrate easily.
The resolution followed a motion by Hon. Balarabe Salame moved under matters of urgent public importance, where he noted that Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) parliament recently sent a fact-finding delegation to ascertain the status of stranded West Africans at the International Organisation for Migrants’ Camp in Agadas, Niger Republic, where it was discovered that 22 Nigerians are among those stranded there.
“Nigeria is one of the countries with considerable escapees numbering 22, dumped at the International Organisation for Migrants’ Camp in Niger Republic”, Salame said, adding, “While most of the escapees have devised means and found their ways back to Nigeria, 22 Nigerians are still hanging in the camp with no certainty on how and when they will be repatriated home.”
He bemoaned the pathetic living conditions of the affected Nigerians, noting that they are victims of inhuman abuses and that they could go through worse situations if no urgent steps are taken to address their plights.