Offa Robbery: Investigation into Saraki’s role continues — Police

Bukola Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki [Photo: Nigerian Pilot]
The police on Thursday said detectives would continue to investigate whether or not Senate President Bukola Saraki was culpable in the deadly armed robbery attack in Offa, Kwara State, in April.

Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood said a PREMIUM TIMES’ story which detailed how Attorney-General Abubakar Malami absolved Mr Saraki of any wrongdoing following an examination of the evidence collected by the police did not mean further investigation would not continue.

Mr Moshood said “investigation is still ongoing on the Offa bank robbery,” adding that Mr Saraki remained a key person of interest having been allegedly “indicted” by “some the arrested principal suspects.”

The disclosure came hours after PREMIUM TIMES reported that the Attorney-General informed Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris in a June 23 letter that evidence gathered by the police did not incriminate Mr Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara state, and subsequently advised the police chief not to file any charges.

The Attorney-General, however, suggested that the police might uncover new facts against the duo if they widened their investigation in the letter, which was signed for Mr Malami by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mohammed Umar.

“For the Senate President and the Kwara State Governor, this office is unable to establish from the evidence in the interim report a nexus between the alleged offence and the suspects,” Mr Umar said in the letter.

The prosecutor said the police could proceed with filing charges against six prime suspects the police said they already have in custody.

The Kwara governor’s chief of staff was also found not wanting by the Attorney-General’s office, but a personal assistant was recommended for trial on illegal possession of arms, the five-page letter, which PREMIUM TIMES published in full, said.

Messrs Saraki, Ahmed and the two Kwara government officials all denied wrongdoings.

It was unclear whether the suspects have contracted legal representatives for their defence, and the police have not said when they would be charged to court, three months after first arrests were made.

“The DPP advice did not exonerate the Senate President, it only called for further investigations into the matter,” Mr Moshood said.

Mr Moshood said the emergency summon dispatched to Mr Saraki on Monday night that asked the Senate President to turn himself in by Tuesday morning was in furtherance of their continuous investigation as recommended by the Attorney-General’s office.

Mr Saraki did not honour the police invitation that was billed for 8.00 a.m. Tuesday, after a siege was reportedly laid to his home and that of his deputy Ike Ekweremadu at dawn Tuesday.

Mr Saraki said the blockade of his residence was aimed at frustrating a planned mass defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress, all but accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind the controversial plot.

The presidency pushed back against claims that Mr Buhari was responsible for the siege, which elicited widespread condemnation the public, saying the president does not interfere in the operations of law enforcement agencies.

Although the police initially threatened Mr Saraki with consequences should he fail to honour their invitation, Mr Moshood toned down his language against the Senate President in his latest statement, only merely saying the lawmaker should honour invitation without giving ultimatum or threatening backlash.

He also denied any “political influence or consideration in the matter,” in an apparent response to widespread insinuations and Mr Saraki’s allegations that the Offa robbery investigation had been politicised.

Notwithstanding, Mr Saraki’s office disclosed shortly after the police’s statement that the Senate President had received police investigators at his office.

Mr Saraki said Thursday morning that the police should send homicide detectives working on the Offa robbery case to his office, noting that Mr Buhari gave a directive to Mr Idris that subsequent investigations concerning him should either be done in writing or in person at his office.