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.
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.’’