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Offa robbery: Saraki’s statement shows he has a case to answer, police insist

Jimoh Moshood, Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria police force, says Senate President Bukola Saraki still has a case to answer on his alleged link with suspects arrested over robbery in Offa, Kwara state.

Moshood said this in response to a letter dated June 23, 2018, where Mohammed U.E, director, public prosecution of the federation, wrote to Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), saying no evidence  linking Saraki to the suspects.

But Moshood said the prosecution director did not absolve Saraki of the allegations, it only called for further investigations.

“The DPP advice did not exonerate the Senate President, it only called for further investigations into the matter,” he said in a statement.

“It is in the course of further investigations into the case that a letter of invitation dated 23rd July, 2018 was sent to the senate president to appear on 24th July, 2018 at 8am before the investigation team at intelligence response team office, Guzape junction, Abuja.

“Consequently, the force is hereby re-affirming that the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki has case to answer by virtue of the facts that the statements submitted by the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki earlier to the investigation team was not explicit and detailed enough, and was discovered to require further clarifications and interrogation, and coupled with the fact the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki in his statement, claimed that the full text of the statement of the suspects who indicted him in their confessional statements to the police was not shown to him.”

He said it is imperative for the senate president to report to the police to make further statement after sighting the full text of the statement of the suspects.

“Furthermore, the Force wishes to inform the media and the public that investigation is still ongoing on the Offa bank robbery and the indictment against the Senate President from the confessions of some the arrested principal suspects, and that, there is no  political influence or consideration in the matter.”

Saraki, however, had asked the IGP to send officers investigating the matter to his office.

At least, 31 persons were killed in the robbery on April 5, 2018.

Saraki must honour our invitation, police insist

The police say Senate President Bukola Saraki must honour their invitation or they “will not hesitate to use all the instruments of the law to ensure” to ensure his compliance.

Jimoh Moshood, force public relations officer, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), had asked the senate president to appear at the office of the intelligence response team (IRT) in Abuja by 8am on Tuesday.

The nation’s number three citizen was summoned over the robbery in Offa, Kwara state.

The suspects arrested in connection with the incident were said to have alleged that he bought weapons for them, an allegation Saraki denied.

“The senate president must honour police invitation; otherwise the force will not hesitate to use all the instruments of the Law to ensure compliance with the law,” the statement read.

“The Nigeria Police Force on the 23rd of July, 2018 invited Sen. Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, to report to the head of investigation team at the Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape junction, Asokoro Extension, Abuja today, 24th of July, 2018 at 8am for further investigation on his indictment from confessional statements from some of the five (5) gang leaders arrested for their active participation in the Offa bank robbery and gruesome murder of more than 31 persons and snatching of 21 AK47 rifles on the 5th of April, 2018 but the Senate President,Sen. Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria refused to honour Police invitation as at the time of this press release.

“The Force therefore, insists that the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria is being expected to report to the head of investigation team at the Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape junction, Asokoro Extension, Abuja and should honour the invitation, otherwise the Force will not hesitate to use all the instruments of the Law to ensure compliance with the law.”

The police also denied laying a siege to the residence of Saraki on Tuesday morning.

“The Nigeria Police Force’s attention was also drawn to the innuendos in the early hours of today that some Police men were seen surrounding the residence of the Senate President; the Force wishes to categorically state that there was no authorised deployment of Police personnel to besiege the residence of the Senate President or his deputy as reported in the media,” the statement read.

“The police personnel seen in pictures in the media were those in the convoy of the Senate President and others attached to him.
“However, the Inspector General of Police has directed a thorough investigation to ascertain the facts in the episode. The Force will not allow the end of justice to be perverted by this distraction.

“The Nigeria Police will ensure that the rule of law prevails in this matter.”

JUST IN: Police, DSS surround Saraki, Ekweremadu’s homes

Operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS and men of the Nigeria Police have laid siege to the Abuja homes of President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

The security operatives arrived at the homes in the early hours of Tuesday.

Those at Saraki’s Maitama residence, however, left around 7:30am when the Senate President was said to have left the premises.

The operatives, however, are still at the Apo residence of Ekweremadu.

However, Bamikole Omisore and Olu Onemola, aides of the senate president, said he is being held back from honouring the invitation by the police over the robbery incident that took place in Offa, Kwara state, in April.

“The @PoliceNG have blocked the Senate President @BukolaSaraki’s convoy at Lake chad junction on his way to report to the police headquarters upon the last night invitation by the police received at 8pm,” Omisore tweeted.

On Monday, Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), summoned Saraki over the heist.

Idris said there was need for the senate president to appear at the office of intelligence response team (IRT) to make further statements on the incident.

Saraki had responded saying that the invitation is politically-motivated.

The Offa robebry led to the death of over 20 people including police officers. Five commercial banks were robbed.

Melaye lands in fresh trouble after guards allegedly shoot police officer

 

Less than three months after Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west,regained freedom from police custody, the Kogi state police command has asked him to report at the state criminal and investigation department in Lokoja, the state capital.

This is in connection with the exchange gunfire between his armed guards and a team of policemen on patrol duty in the state.

A police sergeant who was allegedly shot on the chest is reportedly recuperating in the hospital.

The police asked Melaye to report at the SCIID office in the company of his guards, saying investigation into the shooting is on.

The police said their statement was partly to refute Melaye’s allegation that he was shot at by the police.

The statement said Melaye’s guards opened fire first, while the police responded.

In posts on Instagram, Melaye said the police tried to block his convoy with a grader, parked on a bridge, while he was on his way to Yagba east to commission some projects.

He said his convoy avoided the blockade.

In another Instagram post, the senator representing Kogi west said the state government barricaded the road to stop his movement.

He later took to Twitter to say that an attempt was made on his life during the visit to his state.

The grader that was allegedly used to block a bridge to restrict his movement

He accused men of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) and the military of firing over 20 bullets at his jeep.

“I thank God for spearing my life once again. Over 20 bullets holes on my jeep. Combination of police,SARS and military. God I thank you,” he wrote.

The police statement reproduced below contradicted his account:

Today, at about 1530hours, a team of policemen from the Command was on a routine Anti – Robbery/Kidnapping patrol along Aiyetoro Gbede – Mopa Road.

During the patrol, and as it is often the practice, the team pinned down at a point at Iyah Gbede Junction, where they were observing the highway and occasionally conducting Stop and Search.

It was in this process a long convoy of vehicles coming from Mopa towards Aiyetoro Gbede approached the Point. Officers of the Command at the Point flagged down the convoy. While the lead vehicle, a Toyota Hilux van, which was later discovered to be conveying officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, stopped to introduce themselves, other vehicles in the convoy dangerously zoomed off without regards to the safety of the officers on ground.

Surprisingly, some plain clothed armed men, occupying a white Toyota Hilux van, without registration number, without provocation fired gunshots at the officers of the Anti-Robbery /Kidnapping Patrol Team.

One of the officers, a Sergeant, was hit by bullet on the right part of his chest as a result of which he sustained grievous injury.

The Officer is currently lying critically ill in the hospital where he has undergone a live threatening surgery and currently recuperating.

Expectedly, the policemen in self defence responded by firing back to repel the unexpected attack. Vehicles in the convoy nevertheless, drove away from the scene. It was not until the officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were questioned that it was realised that the convoy was that of Senator Dino Melaye.

It is rather unfortunate that the Senator could after this dastardly act by his aides, be going around with armed men, unknown to the Command who could launch such a lethal attack on police officers in the course of their normal duty.

It is more saddening that the Senator could turn around to issue misleading statements to cover up the heinous crime committed by his hired aides.

While, the command has instituted a high powered investigation panel into the incident, Senator Melaye is hereby advised to report with people in his convoy to the office of the deputy commissioner of police, State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Lokoja to assist in the investigation.

 

No officer slapped Fayose, says Police

The Ekiti state police command says no policeman slapped Ayodele Fayose, governor of the state.

Fayose had said security operatives invaded the governor’s office on Wednesday and later assaulted him.

But speaking with TheCable on Friday, Caleb Ikechukwu, police spokesman in Ekiti, said the police respect the office of the governor and no policeman could have slapped him.

“No policeman can and will slap a sitting governor or deputy, they are our excellencies,” he said.

The command said two political parties wanted to have their rallies on the same date in Ado-Ekiti but the commissioner of police advised the parties to have their activities at different times because of the security implication.

The police had ordered the withdrawal of security details of candidates but Ikechukwu said those with the governor and his deputy who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were not withdrawn.

“Police want to ensure a level playing ground for everybody, and we are withdrawing all security personnel from VIPs, and we will deploy them to areas they will be needed,” he said.

“We are not withdrawing our personnel from the governor and the deputy governor of the state. We respect them, and we can’t take away security from a sitting governor of a state.”

He also said the heavy deployment of police officers in the state is to ensure the safety of voters in the election.

Ahead of the election on Saturday, 30,000 officers from various units in the country were moved into the state.

“The deployment they’ve seen is to ensure their safety on the election day so that miscreant, hoodlums, thugs will not come to hijack the process,” Ikechukwu said.

Fayose weeping at a rally

“I want to assure you that the Nigerian police force is transparent. We are not a political body. Our men will not be on mask, and police officers posted to polling units will not carry arms, teargas.”

He added, however, that armed tactical teams were in strategic places to monitor the process.

“We will have our stationed tactical team for preemptive situations so that we will not be taken unaware, and that’s why you will see some of our men with arms and tear gas positioned at strategic places,” he said.

“We have to protect everybody, the collation centres and and escorts that would protect election materials through the routes to the collation centre. The foreign observers. We have NGOs monitoring the process and these people all need security. The security agencies on ground is a proactive measure.

“We have borders. Ekiti state is surrounded by four states, with over five exit routes. So, when you look at all this, you put security in place so that you don’t allow people to bring in thugs into the state. Then we have to check people and movement, to be sure that hired thugs do not come in to disrupt the election process.

“We’ve also done our risk assessment and we’ve identified our flashpoints, areas where would think there will be possible trouble. And what we’ve done in those areas, for proactive sake, we have our tactical team who are on ground to conduct patrol. They will check on vehicles to know those permitted to move. There will be stop and search.”

Movement, according to him, will be restricted 12 midnight till the election is over.”

Ekiti: DIG denies authorising use of force, says ‘mistake’ won’t reoccur

The Police have dismantled the barricades they mounted at the entrance to the Ekiti State Government House in Ado-Ekiti.

Security agents who took over the premises and allegedly fired teargas at Governor Ayodele Fayose have also been withdrawn.

The teargas allegedly left Mr Fayose unconscious for about five minutes before he was resuscitated by party supporters and taken to the Government House Clinic.

With a collar around his neck after the incident, the governor told journalists the police wanted to harm him, saying Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris should be held responsible should anything happen to him.

A police team led by the Commissioner of Police in charge of Mobile Police (MOPOL) unit, Eche Eche, allegedly blocked the road between Fajuyi Park and Government House, preventing members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from holding a rally.

The police also occupied the State pavilion, the campaign base of the candidate of the PDP, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, and dispersed party supporters who were preparing for what was called a victory rally.

But reacting to Mr Fayose’s allegation against the police, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Habilal Joshak, in a television interview denied he ordered his officers to use teargas on the crowd.

“What I said was that those massing for the rally should be asked to leave because it is not good going by the mood of the state now to hold rally or street procession.

“I didn’t say they should use force. This is an election and electioneering is a civil matter anywhere across the globe, so police as security agents can’t use force on the people. But I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State that such mistake will never repeat itself,” Mr Joshak stated.

A visit to the entrance to the government house on Thursday by our reporter showed there were no longer restrictions of movement.

In another development, spokesperson of Governor Fayose, Lere Olayinka , said his boss had been discharged from the hospital and was stabilising.

“The governor is now better and stabilising fast. He is out of the hospital and I believe he will get well soon,” he said.

Police find bodies of 41 suspected bandits in Zamfara

Nigerian police say they have found the bodies of 41 men with their throats cut in a northern area that is notorious as a hideout for criminal gangs.

Eighteen bodies were found in a river on Sunday while 23 others were discovered in a nearby forest in the Zurmi area of Zamfara state, police commissioner Kenneth Ebrimson said on Tuesday.

Police arrested four suspects after searching the bush area and also found machetes and guns, he told reporters in Gusau, the state capital.

He said the suspects were identified as members of a widely-feared local vigilante group “who decided to carry out the extra-judicial killings”.

Police believe the victims were gang members who had been involved in cattle rustling and kidnapping.

But local residents were unable to identify any of the bodies, suggesting they were not resident in the area, he said.

Farming and cattle herding communities in Zamfara have for years been terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, steal cows and abduct locals for ransom.

As a hideout, the gangs use the Ruggu forest which straddles Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna states.

The attacks have prompted villagers to form militia groups for protection but they, too, have been accused of taking the law into their own hands and killing suspected bandits.

Those killings attract reprisals from motorcycle-riding criminal gangs, who carry out indiscriminate killings and arson in retaliation.

In April the Nigerian government deployed troops to Zamfara to fight the gangs while the police outlawed the vigilantes to end the tit-for-tat killings.

AFP.

Policeman stoned to death during clash with Shi’ites in Kaduna

A policeman was on Thursday killed during a clash between his colleagues and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), better known as Shi’ites in Kaduna state.

Many members of the sect also sustained injuries in the clash which started on Wednesday.

Members of the group had trooped out in large numbers to witnessed the the trial of Ibrahim Zakzaky, their leader, at the Kaduna state high court.

Armed security personnel had prevented the group from accessing the court complex along Bida road, Kaduna.

The situation became violent around Ibrahim Taiwo Road as the Shi’ites pelted the officers with stones and other dangerous objects.

Despite the release of teargas canisters, the protesters trooped out en masse.

Aliyu Mukhtar, spokesman of the Kaduna police command, said the deceased officer died after being hit by objects thrown at him by the Shi’ites.

“It was a large crowd, the shiite members as usual were hiding in the midst of people and when our men were trying to disperse them, they started throwing stones at them,” he said.

“The policeman was hit with stones several times and he fell down. He was taken to the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital were he gave up.”

He said 11 members of the group members were immediately arrested while the situation had been brought under control.

Meanwhile, Femi Falana, counsel to Zakzaky, told reporters that the court did not sit and the case was adjourned till July 11.

Falana also condemned the authorities for barring journalists from the court, saying trial is public.

“Ladies and gentlemen you also have a duty to insist on being part of this trial because it is a public trial. It is your right to cover the proceedings” he said.

“What happened in court today is that, the court did not sit. We were informed by the registrar of the court that his lordship, Justice Gideon Kurada is indisposed. In the circumstance, we have to take a date, the prosecution and defense counsel have agreed to come back on 11th July to have possibly the arraignment and file an application for bail for our client.

“So, that is where we are. We don’t know the reason the judge is not in court but we were told he was indisposed.”

Police witness reveals ‘Evans the kidnapper’ used soldier to evade arrest

Inspector Idowu Haruna, a member of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team,  on Friday narrated to an Ikeja High Court how Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike alias Evans used a soldier as a decoy during his various crime spree in the Lagos metropolis.

Haruna a policeman with 14-years experience,  made the revelation during the ongoing trial of of Evans and his co-defendant,Victor Aduba on four-counts of kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.

His hour long testimony began at 2pm.

While being led in evidence by Mr Adebayo Haroun,  the state prosecutor,  Haruna said “The second defendant (Aduba) was a member of the Nigerian Army.

“By the time the first defendant was arrested,  he mentioned the name of the second defendant in his confessional statement.

“He said that whenever they had an operation, he will call Aduba and the army officer while wearing his full uniform will seat at the front passenger seat of their vehicle so that they can pass through police road blocks with ease.”

Haruna noted that when the soldier was apprehended by authorities, he faced disciplinary procedures at the Abati Barracks,  Yaba,  Lagos before he was handed over to the police for questioning.

The policeman in his testimony,  also told the court about Evan’s alleged criminal career.

“The first defendant has been into kidnapping and robbery for a very long time,  he started in Edo when I worked there,  we arrested about 10 members of his syndicate but he ran away to Lagos.

“Vincent Obianodo,  the boss of the Young Shall Grow Motors was his first victim in Lagos,  during Obianodo’s attempted kidnap, members of his gang were killed but Evans ran away.

“Evans was in charge of providing the arms and ammunition for his gang.

“He led the operation for the kidnap of Mr Sylvanus Ahamonu,  he was the pilot of the vehicle he is the sole negotiator of the all the demanded  ransome.

“He never allows other members of his gang to negotiate with victims families. He collected a total of 420,000dollars from Ahamonu’s family,  $200,000 was personally received from Ahamonu’s family in two tranches.

“The remaining $20,000 was collected by Evans from the Ahamonu family for drinks for his boys.

“Aduba the dismissed army officer confessed to be involved in the kidnap of James Udoji, Ahamonu and one Ucheson,  a businessman in Alaba Market,” he said.

The prosecution sought to tender the statements of Evans and Aduba as evidence.

However, Evans defence counsel,  Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje and Mr Emmanuel Ochai,  counsel to Aduba objected on the grounds that the confessional statements were not voluntarily made.

Following the objection of the defence,  Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo ordered a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements.

During the trial-within-trial,  Haruna narrated to the court how the statements of the defendants were obtained by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),  Ikeja,  Lagos.

“The statement of Evans was recorded by my team member Sgt. Julius Okundaiye in a very conducive office.

“He was seated on a chair,  my team members and I were also there,  no one offered him anything for his confession and he was not tortured,  it was not given under duress.

“I was even cracking jokes with him and he was laughing and admitted that his time is up and nemesis had caught up with him.

“After recording the statement,  the recorder signed and Evans counter-signed and he was taken to my superior SP Phillips who read it aloud to him and he counter-signed it.

“The statement of Aduba was also recorded in the same SARS building at Ikeja by Inspector Christian Ogbu.

“He cooperated with the police having been a member of the Nigerian Army.

“After giving the statement,  it was signed and counter-signed by both him and the recorder.

“His statement was recorded freely and not under duress,” Haruna said.

Justice Taiwo adjourned the case till July 4 continuation of the trial-within-trial.

JUST IN: Over 25 abducted in fresh Birnin Gwari attack

More than 25 people were kidnapped along the Birnin Gwari-Funtua road in Kaduna state on Thursday.

Sources said the kidnappers struck between Kiryoyi and Maganda villages of Birnin Gwari local government area.

They reportedly stopped vehicles carrying passengers and ordered the people into the bush.

Danladi Duniya, chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Birnin Gwari, confirmed the  incident in a telephone interview.

“I am not in a position to say precisely the number of people abducted, but they are many.
May be 25 or more than that. I cannot not say, but all passengers in the vehicles were abducted,” he said.

“They stopped five vehicles, one of the driver who was driving a gulf car managed to escape. This is what we go through on the road and we are pleasing with the authorities to help us address this problem.
“People cannot go to farm and they cannot travel, this is too bad.”

Aliyu Mukhtar, spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, could not be reached on the telephone for comments.

Bandits have continued to operate in the area despite ongoing military operation.

Last week, 44 passengers travelling in five vehicles were abducted.