Senate President Bukola Saraki has been invited by the police over the Offa bank robbery.
On April 5, 2018, robbers shot their way through a handful of banks in Offa, Kwara State, killing over 30 persons and carting away sack-loads of cash.
Police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood in a statement issued on Sunday, June 3, 2018 said that 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 robberies and killings of 33 innocent persons.”
According to the police, some of the suspected Offa robbers have been making confessional statements; some of which indicted Saraki and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
Who are the Offa robbers?
The Offa robbers were a bunch of 15 young men who blocked the Ilorin and Osogbo entrances into Offa at about 4:41pm on Thursday April 5 and fired away as they marched to take over Union Bank, Eco Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, First Bank, Zenith Bank and Ibolo Micro Finance Bank.
On April 21, the police leaked footage of the robbery to the publicand followed up with pictures of four suspects in the first week of May.
On April 13, police spokesperson Moshood announced a breakthrough in investigations. 12 suspects had been arrested, the police announced.
The suspects were listed as Adegoke Shogo, 29; Kayode Opadokun, 35; Kazeem Abdulrasheed, 36; Azeez Abdullahi, 27; Alexander Reuben, 39; and Jimoh Isa, 28.
Others were Azeez Salawudeen, 20; Adewale Popoola, 22; Adetoyese Muftau, 23; Aminu Ibrahim 18; Richard Buba Terry, 23; and Peter Kuunfa, 25.
Moshood said, "The police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots/flashpoints, stop and search operations, visibility and confidence building patrols, intelligence gathering which led to the arrest of the suspects.
"Some of those arrested also involved serious exchange of gun fire between the police and the suspects in their various hideouts”.
On May 10, media reports emerged that Michael Adikwu, a police corporal who was attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Kwara State command before he was dismissed in 2012, led the robbers who raided Offa and killed dozens for fun.
On Monday, May 21, 2018, the police disclosed that it had arrested another suspectcalled Kunle Ogunleye, aka Arrow.
What did Saraki and Gov Ahmed say after the Offa robbery?
After the Offa robbery, Saraki and Ahmed issued statements condemning the raids and killings.
For context, Saraki was succeeded by Ahmed as Governor of Kwara State and both men have remained friends after Saraki left for the senate.
After the Offa robbery which shook an entire nation and dominated social media chatter for days, Ahmed said; “I urge all well-meaning citizens to resist any attempt by anyone to use the tragedy for political purposes.
"What has befallen us is too terrible and saddening for anyone to trivialize for selfish political gain,” the governor said.
Saraki commiserated with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris and the people of Kwara for the loss of lives and personnel. The senate president also condemned the attack.
The senate president said: "Following my visit to Offa this morning to condole with the traditional ruler and people over Thursday’s attack, I called the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim, to commiserate with him on the loss of some of his personnel during the robbery incident.
“The IGP promised that Armored Personnel Carriers will immediately be stationed in strategic parts of Offa and additional police personnel will be deployed. Top investigators will also be sent to Kwara State to help in tracking down the perpetrators.
“I thank the IGP for his prompt response and the anticipated measures aimed at tackling this security menace.
“It is my hope that Thursday’s incident that has left our people in Offa and Kwara State rattled and in grief will never reoccur.”
Governor Ahmed even announced a N5million reward for anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits.
Suspected cultists in Kwara linked to Saraki and Ahmed
On May 16, 2018, Saraki released a statement to say the police had perfected a grand plan to criminally implicate him by linking him to some suspected cultists who were arrested in Kwara.
Saraki had said: “Last night, my state governor revealed to me an information at his disposal that a group of suspects who have been arrested in our state for cultism, whose investigation has been completed and were about to be under prosecution under the state law on the advice of DPP and the ministry of justice, have been ordered to be transferred to Abuja this morning.
“With the information that he has, they would find how to alter their statement already made in Ilorin and try and implicate the state government and particularly myself. I felt that as we speak now, these suspects are already here in Abuja”.
Kwara Governor Ahmed issued a similar statement to say he was not comfortable with transferring the suspected cultists to Abuja because there was a possibility that they were going to be tortured to alter their statements.
Is Saraki cool friends with the police chief?
Saraki and IGP Idris are not exactly the best of friends.
After Senator Dino Melaye was arrested and jumped out of a moving police van, IGP Idris was summoned by the senate. It was an invitation the IGP turned down.
It was the 3rd time Idris was shunning an invitation from Saraki and the senate.
After Idris shunned Saraki’s invitation for the third time of asking, the senate president declared the police boss an enemy of democracy.
Saraki also said Idris is unfit to hold any public office.
According to Saraki: “The senate in a closed session deliberated on the non-appearance of the IGP to the senate after a series of invitations. The senate noted that this has been a gross disrespect to our constituted authority and to also know that his earlier refusal to appear before investigative committee was overruled by competent court of jurisdiction just in April this year.
“The senate therefore view this persistent refusal as a great danger to our democracy and hence the senate resolved to declare IGP as an enemy of democracy and not fit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria”.
Is Saraki’s invitation by police a case of IGP Idris hitting back?
After he was invited by the police, Saraki made it clear he was going to honour the invitation once he receives a formal request from police headquarters.
He also said Idris is only trying to get back at him.
"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", the senate president said.
Will Saraki's police appearance affect senate sessions?
A date for Saraki’s appearance at police headquarters is yet to be made public. However, his appearance is unlikely to affect senate proceedings as the Deputy Senate President is constitutionally allowed to preside at plenary when the Senate President is unavailable at times like this.
The police is also likely to invite Saraki on a day the senators do not convene for plenary.
What you should expect is a horde of senators chartering buses to accompany Saraki to Force Headquarters just to show solidarity.
Unlike State governors and the president of the federal republic, members of the legislative arm of government aren’t immune from prosecution.