Senate President Bukola Saraki has not been cleared of his alleged complicity in the Offa robbery, it was learnt yesterday.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) said there was nowhere Saraki was cleared in the opinion of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) rendered on the interim report of investigation submitted for the DPP’s advice by the police, as being claimed.
They stated that instead, the DPP, having analysed the interim report of investigation by the police, suggested areas of further investigation as regard claims by some of those being held over the crime, particularly as it relates to the source of the weapons used and where the operation was plotted.
The AGF, the IGP and the NPF noted that pursuant to the advice by the DPP, further investigation has been conducted, following which a more detailed investigation report has since been submitted to the DPP for his further opinion.
They said it was premature for anyone to claim that Saraki had been exonerated as “investigation is still ongoing on the case”. They denied the claim that the decision to question Saraki over the case was political and intended to blackmail him and dent his reputation.
They said the information linking Saraki to the case was provided by some individuals arrested in relation to the case, who claim to be political thugs to the Senate President.
The AGF, the NPF and the IGP spoke in their separate counter affidavits filed in response to a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by some 10 individuals, who claimed to be acting for the Senate President. The suit is pending before Justice M. A. Nasir of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi, Abuja.
The applicants – Anthony Onukaogu, Lawrence Umudu, Bamidele Ojo, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, Ogechi Duruaku, Veronica Onoja, Chidiebere Achebe, Chika Onyiorah, Chigozie Eburuo and Patrick Uzim – claimed in the suit, that the decision by the police to question Saraki in relation to the robbery was instigated by his political enemies; intended to blackmail him and dent the Senate President’s reputation.
Besides filing separate counter-affidavits, the respondents – AGF, NPF and the IGP – also filed motions and notices of objection, challenging the applicants’ locus standi, the court’s jurisdiction and the propriety of court’s interim order of injunction, made on August 8 by Justice Nasir, restraining the respondents from further inviting Saraki in relation to investigation on the robbery case.
On Thursday, Tijani Ganzali (for the AGF), O. M. Atoyebi (for the NPF) and S. Jibrin (for the IGP) informed the court about the various processes they filed on behalf of their clients, which they were yet to serve on the applicants.
The applicants’ lawyer, E. C. Nweke, prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable him respond to the respondents’ processes, which he said were to be served on him in court on Thursday. Justice Nasir, upon agreement by parties, adjourned the matter till September 3 for hearing.
The AGF said in his counter affidavit that contrary to the applicants’ claim in paragraph 23 of their affidavit, the police interim investigation report on the Offa, Kwara State robbery and other alleged crimes, “as it affects Senator Bukola Saraki, revealed that further thorough investigation be made so as to ascertain whether the planning and the execution of the robbery attack of 5th April 2018 at Offa, Kwara State was carried out at his instance, knowledge or approval.
“Or whether the weapons used for the robbery attack were supplied by him (Saraki); and other possible areas which will aid the establishment of prima facie case against whoever is involved. The interim investigation report is not a conclusive investigation and does not put an end to the investigation of Senator Bukola Saraki, hence the investigation to ascertain direct or any possible link of Senator Bukola Saraki and the robbery incident is still on going.
“That the Interim Investigation Report does not in any way exonerate Senator Bukola Saraki from any further investigation. As a matter of fact, Senator Bukola Saraki has no immunity whatsoever from investigation, arrest, detention or prosecution where reasonable suspicion is established.
“Contrary to paragraphs 8, 14, 17 and 21 of the applicants’ affidavit, neither the position of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Nigerian Senate President nor his political portfolio is a barrier to any investigation by the 2nd and 3rd respondents (NPF and IGP) if he is suspected of having committed any crime.
“There was never a time Senator Bukola Saraki, in the cause of his investigation in relation to the Offa, Kwara State robbery incident, that he was detained in breach of the provisions of the law. All invitations made by the 2nd and 3rd respondents to Senator Bukola Saraki, in respect of the Offa robbery are in an effort to ascertain the veracity of the allegation made against him in accordance with the spirit of right to fair hearing.
“The 2nd and 3rd respondents have the statutory duty to investigate Senator Bukola Saraki or any other person linked to the alleged commission of any offence. The investigation and/or invitation of the Senator Bukola Saraki is not in any way malicious or aimed at tarnishing his image,” the AGF said.
The IGP, in his counter affidavit, gave an insight into what informed police’s decision to question Saraki over the robbery incident and why it was wrong for the Senate President to rush to conclusion based on the interim report submitted to the DPP by the police.
The IGP stated that following the April 5, 2018 case of multiple bank robberies involving six banks, attack on police station and murder of thirty-one (31) individuals, including nine (9) police officers in Offa, the police arrested some suspects, including Ayoade Akinnibosun, lbikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Ibrahim, Salawudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, and recorded their statements in which they allegedly admitted involvement in the crime.
The IGP added: “One of the suspects, Ayoade Akinnibosun, confessed to being a political thug to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed. The said Ayoade Akinibosun equally stated that some of the arms and ammunition used in the armed robbery operation were procured by the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed.
“Based on the statement of Ayoade Akinnibosun, the Senate President was invited to make statement to respond to the allegations and he eventually made a statement to the Police. After initial investigation, the police forwarded the case file to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the DPP rendered a legal advice in which it was concluded that some of the suspects have cases of armed robbery and unlawful possession of Firearms to answer.
“As regards the Senate President, the DPP’s legal advice states in paragraph f as follows ‘for the Senate President—this office is unable to establish from the evidence in the interim report a nexus between the alleged offence and the suspects, Hence, it is our advice that further and thorough investigation in this regard be carried out.’
“The DPP’s advice, in same paragraph f, states that the areas to be covered include, but not limited to the following: (i) establish whether the planning and the execution of the robbery attack of 5th of April 2018 at Offa were carried out at their instance, knowledge and approval, (ii) whether the weapons used for the robbery attack aforementioned were supplied by either the Senate President, Bukola Saraki or the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed Maigida (iii) any other area or areas that may assist in establishing a prima facie case of aiding and abetting crime or accessory after the fact.
“Based on the advice of the DPP and after more investigations, the Senate President was invited again to make statement and he made another statement and the case file was duplicated and forwarded back to the Attorney-General of the Federation for advice. As soon as the advice of the DPP is out, anybody indicted will be charged to court as required by law,” the IGP said.