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Saraki vs IGP: Kwara reps, Lai Mohammed, youths in verbal exchange

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By Emman Ovuakporie & Demola Akinyemi

ABUJA—The controversy arising from the arrest of some alleged cultists in Kwara State and warning of blackmail against Senate President, Bukola Saraki, deepened yesterday as the Kwara State caucus in the House of Representatives and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, joined the fray.

The Kwara State Caucus in the House of Representatives in a statement yesterday cautioned the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, to stop misleading Nigerians over the allegations raised on the floor of the Senate, just as Kwara State South All Progressives Congress, APC, Youth Caucus accused the Federal Government of intimidation through the arrests of some of their leaders.

They specifically accused Lai Mohammed of having a role in the arrest of the youth leaders, including the chairman of the councillors forum in the state, Habeeb Abdulkadir.

Saraki and Idris

Mohammed in a swift reaction, denied any role in the arrest of the youths, saying whatever issues he had with the organisation of the recent ward and local government area congresses had been channelled to the appropriate authorities.

The Kwara caucus in a statement issued and signed by the caucus spokesman, Razaq Atunwa, stated that the IGP should stop playing politics with the issue as raised by the Senate President.

Atunwa explained:  “We have also reviewed the response from the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, where he tried to present it as a normal routine for police to move suspects arrested from a state command to the Police  Headquarters in Abuja and further said the  statement by the Senate President could obstruct investigation.

“As  key  stakeholders  in   Kwara  State  who  are  also   familiar  with  the   developments  in  our   constituencies,  it  is   necessary  for  us  to  let   Nigerians  know  our  view  on   the  matter.

“It  seems  to  us   that  the  IGP  is  standing   facts  on  the  head.  We  hereby   state  the  facts  of  the  matter   and  we  invite  everyone  to   independently  verify  them.

“We  are  aware  that  the   suspects  listed  by  the  IGP,   all  of  whom  are  now  in  Abuja,   were  arrested  on  5  May  2018   for  the  offences  of  criminal   conspiracy  and  culpable   homicide.

“After  the   completion  of  investigations,   the  police  addressed  a  press   conference  on  10  May  2018.

“During  the  press  conference,   the  police  emphasized  the   fact  that  it  was  ready  to   arraign the suspects in court.

“Any attempt by the Police to falsely incriminate the Senate President in order to settle  scores will be reprehensible conduct which would be resisted by all legal and lawful means, Atunwa added.

Meanwhile, the youths leader, Kwara South Senatorial District, Mr Tomiwa Kolawole, speaking at a press conference in Ilorin, said the youths in police custody and taken to Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja for interrogation included the youths leader of the Irepodun Local Government Council of the state, Samson Bada, speaker of the local government who is also chairman, councillors forum in the state, Habeeb Abdulkadir, among others.

He accused the minister of culpability in the arrest.

Mohammed in a reaction articulated by his special assistant, Segun Adeyemi, said:

“The Minister vehemently rejects this accusation. He has nothing to do with the arrest of the youths in Kwara South, and believes – contrary to the allegation by the stakeholders – that the arrest has nothing to do with the Ward Congress in his hometown of Oro. After all, suspected cultists were also recently arrested and paraded by the police in Ilorin.

“The Minister wishes to state that the police, in the exercise of its constitutional responsibility, does not need to be goaded by anyone to carry out arrests where necessary.

“Concerning the outcome of the election in his Oro Ward 2, the Minister has made his observations on the conduct of the election known to the appropriate party authorities, in line with his strong belief in the rule of law.

“Suffice it to say, however, that the only credible Ward election was the one held by the genuine party members in Oro Ward 2. That explains why, after the election, there was a rally around Oro Town that eventually terminated in the country home of the  Minister. He does not believe there is any linkage between the election and the arrests.’’

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