Adelani Adepegba, Leke Baiyewu, Simon Utebor, Alexander Okere and Godwin Isenyo
An informant, Ismail Yakubu, has narrated how he instigated the raid on the residence of elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, by armed policemen on Tuesday in Abuja.
The 45-year-old indigene of the Federal Capital Territory, explained that a taxi driver informed him that a sealed Toyota Hilux was conveying arms and ammunition into the Asokoro, Abuja residence of the Niger Delta leader.
This, he added, prompted him to alert the Inspector-General of Police Special Tactical Force’ which conducted a two-hour search of the building. The search, however, yielded nothing.
Yakubu, who claimed to be a member of Waru Traditional Council, disclosed how he got the information about the purported arms at the Clark’s residence while being paraded by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, “The point is that I was going to Asokoro on Monday exactly around 4pm. I was called to come and receive a message at the back of ECOWAS. I took a taxi from Apo roundabout.
“When we were on our way, I was in front and two other passengers were in the car. I noticed that the whole street was blocked and then I began to ask questions to know what was happening.”
Yakubu added, “It was then the taxi man said the street is where the Niger Delta people are living. I probed further to know why the road was blocked and rowdy. He then pointed out to me to see the truck entering the compound, the compound was House 43. The truck was a white Hilux van and it was sealed. The driver said the road was blocked because the van was trying to enter the compound.
“The driver said the van was filled with ammunition. As an indigene of the FCT and hearing the information, I thought to myself that why ammunition in the FCT because residents of the FCT are peace-loving people. I said I cannot take that. I asked how sure he was and he said he was sure and that was why the whole area was blocked.
“On Tuesday morning, I met Inspector Sada and I narrated what I saw. I told him that I got the information from a taxi man. I told him the address and they went there to investigate.”
On how he felt about the turn of things, the informant responded, “The police said when you see a suspicious movement, you should always report to the police; I don’t think I have done wrong in doing such.”
The police revealed that the suspect would be arraigned in court immediately for giving false information and misleading the force.
Moshood stated that the policemen involved in the unauthorised operation were being detained, adding that the senior officer who led the search, ASP David Dominic, had been queried.
He gave the names of the detained policemen as inspectors Godwin Musa, Sada Abubakar and Yabo Paul, adding that they would face force disciplinary action after which the Police Service Commission would determine their fate.
“Any officer who is to carry out the execution of a 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,” he stressed.
When asked if the police carried out due diligence and investigation before storming the Ijaw leader’s residence, Moshood said, “No and that is why the officers are being punished as we speak. They have been queried and they are in detention.
“There are procedures to be followed before executing the search warrant and the lapses are on their side and that is why they are being investigated.”
He explained that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had apologised to Clark over the incident, noting that a team led by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Habila Joshak, visited the octogenarian on Tuesday night.
IG begs Clark
A team led by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Habila Joshak, visited Clark on Tuesday night and apologised to the octogenarian on behalf of the police boss.
Moshood in a statement insisted that Idris was not aware of the Tuesday raid on Clark’s residence by the policemen who were said to have been detained over the unauthorised search.
He said, “The IG did not authorise the search and has therefore sent a delegation of senior police officers led by DIG Joshak along with some Commissioners of Police who visited Chief Edwin Clark and apologised on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force and the IGP for the misconduct of the said police personnel and the attendant embarrassment the search has caused the elder statesman and his family.
“The delegation was received by Chief Edwin Clark and the apology was accepted by him.”
Moshood explained that the IG had ordered a probe of the four policemen involved in the raid, adding that they would be tried in accordance with the Force Disciplinary Procedures before appropriate punishments would be meted out to them.
“The IGP has directed the immediate parade of the informant on Wednesday (today) in the presence of the press and the public, before his prompt arraignment and prosecution in court,” he added.
Saraki demands probe
Meanwhile, the raid attracted more condemnations on Wednesday with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, calling for an open and comprehensive investigation into the operation.
He stated that the incident must not be covered up without the public knowing all the details, particularly concerning “who gave the order, who signed the police search warrant, which officers executed it and what objective was it meant to serve.”
Saraki’s reaction to the police operation was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.
The Senate President said, “Chief Edwin Clark, a Second Republic senator, former minister under 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 added, “This type of action by the police, coming at this time when the nation is preparing for elections, 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 has denied that the raid was authorised, the next move should be a thorough, transparent investigation into the Senator Edwin Clark incident to prevent future occurrence.”
IYC berates police
Also, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide condemned the police.
The umbrella body of Ijaw youths contended that the invasion of the residence of the foremost Ijaw leader in the guise of looking for arms and ammunition clearly showed that Nigeria was descending towards full blown dictatorship under President Muhammadu Buhari.
A statement on Wednesday by President, IYC, Eric Omare, argued that the council disagreed completely with the reason adduced for the invasion, which was suspicion of stockpiling arms and ammunition from the Niger Delta region.
It’s an attempt to stifle opposition – Makarfi
On his part, a former governor of Kaduna State and Peoples Democratic Party presidential aspirant, Ahmed Makarfi, said the raid was an attempt to stifle the opposition.
He also noted that the raid on the elder statesman’s house was a confirmation of the country’s drift towards authoritarianism and police state.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, on Wednesday, Makarfi added that the raid was an attempt to intimidate the opposition.
He described the raid as a show of shame, urging the police high command to go beyond a mere disclaimer and investigate to unravel what led to the raid.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]