By Ola Ajayi
IBADAN— SENATE Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin was, yesterday, arraigned before a Magistrate Court, Ibadan over Thursday’s killing of the former factional leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Oyo State branch, Alhaji Lateef Salako, a.k.a Eleweomo.
Three others charged with him on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder are Ramoni Jayeoba, Bankole Olaide Raji and Raimi Ismaila
The PDP senator was arrested on Monday and detained by the Oyo State Police Command amid protest by his numerous supporters that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Baba Adisa Bolanta, had conspired with the State Governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao_Akala, who is also an ex_policeman.
The police commissioner informed the senator and other founding members of the PDP in the state that he would only write his statement at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku, after which he would be allowed to go.
After waiting more than 10 hours at the station, the senator and his supporters were on their way when they were called back to make some clarification. The senator remained there with the Fourth Republic Senator, Senator Lekan Balogun, Elder Wole Oyelese, former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo; founding member of the PDP in the state, Senator Ayo Adeseun, former Chief of Staff in the administration of Rashidi Ladoja, Chief Sarafadeen Alli; Alhaji Alli Oyedeji (a.k.a. Alli Dodo), and former member, Oyo State Pilgrims Board, Alhaji Abass Oloko.
Some local government chairmen who had earlier served in the administration of Governor Alao-Akala waited with some saying that the governor was fighting Ibadan people in entirety and not just Folarin.
Senator Folarin and three others were later arraigned in the court under heavy security, yesterday, with hundreds of his supporters trooping into the court premises.
Charges against the senator
Immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, led 14 other lawyers for the accused persons before Chief Magistrate Fatima Badrudeen. The charges preferred against the senator, Ramoni Jayeoba, Bankole Olaide Raji and Raimi Ismaila, read: “On December 30, 2010 at about 11.30 a.m., at Olunloyo Ogbere, Ibadan in the Ibadan magisterial district (the accused) did conspire with others at large to kill Lateef Salako (a.k.a. Eleweomo)”.
Mr. Mathew Ojeh who was the prosecutor further told the court that Senator Folarin with the three others and others at large “on the same date and time at Olunloyo Ogbere, Ibadan did murder Lateef Salako (a.k.a. Eleweomo) by shooting him with gun.”
Counsel to the senator, Mr. Akeredolu, however, submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to handle the allegations against the senator being a magistrate court. He pleaded that Folarin be remanded at Agodi Prison “pending the time proper application is filed at the High Court and for us to take proper bail application at the High Court”. Akeredolu then urged the court to adjourn the matter till January 14 2011.
The Chief Magistrate agreed with Akeredolu that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the case. She then ordered that Folarin and others be remanded at the Agodi Prison till January 14, 2011, as suggested by Akeredolu when the bail application would have been filed and argued at the High Court.
Senator Folarin who was taken into a prison Pick Up Van marked PRISON PS 598-AO1, waved to his supporters.
Akala’s camp narrates how Salako was murdered
Meanwhile the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Ona_Ara Local Government area of Oyo State, Alhaji Taofiki Olayiwola, yesterday, gave a graphic explanation of how supporters of the Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin disrupted the congress of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the council area last Thursday, an action which he said, allegedly resulted in the killing of Alhaji Lateef Salako, a.k.a. Eleweomo.
Olayiwola who addressed a news conference in Ibadan said the briefing was necessitated by the need “to correct certain misinformation being maliciously spread by some people on the dastardly murder of Alhaji Lateef Salako (Eleweomo), on Thursday, December 30, 2010.”
The council helmsman who was, until recently, Governor Alao_Akala’s Special Assistant on Political Matters, recalled that the deceased was elected as one of the delegates from ward 5, where Senator Folarin hailed from, the previous day. He said the Senate Leader was aware of Eleweomo’s emergence and did not raise any objection or dispute the process of his emergence.
Olayiwola said that on the fateful day of Eleweomo’s murder, the Local Government congress as scheduled was held at IDC Primary School , Olunloyo “where Alhaji Salako took part as an elected ward delegate and as a loyal party member, in Ona-Ara Local Government.”
Olayiwola briefs newsmen
He said the congress went on smoothly and that he was busy addressing delegates and party supporters amid jubilation when “Senator Folarin, who had chosen to stay away for reasons best known to him, stormed the venue of the congress with 25 mobile policemen and about eight buses loaded with people suspected to be political thugs.”
He added: “Senator Folarin ordered his aides to release gun shots which caused people to scamper for safety including Alhaji Salako. Senator Folarin’s aides identified and pursued Salako, caught up with him, shot him, stabbed him and waited until he died.”
Folarin calls for independent probe panel
However, Senator Teslim Folarin had noted earlier that Eleweomo’s men, in several buses had invaded the Congress venue and were disrupting the peaceful conduct of the congress which made him to make five distress calls to the Police Commissioner, Baba Adisa Bolanta and the Director of the State Security Services, SSS, on the need to arrest the situation before degenerating into a state of anarchy.
Folarin said the calls were ignored by Bolanta who claimed that what he (Folarin) said was not the true picture of what was going on at Ona-Ara.
Before he was remanded at Agodi Prisons Custody, yesterday, Folarin had since urged the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, to set up an independent probe panel to ascertain his culpability or otherwise in the killing of Eleweomo, stressing that, his team was already on his way home when news went round that Eleweomo had been murdered by yet to be identified assailants on the ill-fated day.