The Nigeria Police says it has arrested at least eight persons over Friday’s incident in which troubled Senate President Bukola Saraki was pelted with stones, sachets of water and other missiles at the Ilorin Yidi praying ground.
Ajayi Okasanmi, a spokesman for the Kwara State Police Command, made the announcement in Ilorin, describing those under arrest as “miscreants”. He was also quick to suggest that no government officials were among the suspects despite the tension and open criticism of the government by its angry workers who have not been paid for months.
He told reporters that over 2,000 policemen had been deployed alongside other security agencies to ensure the success of the Eid- el–Kabir celebration.
“It was free in the course of prayers there was the insurgence of criminals which we put into consideration while planning our security strategy,” he said. “We know they normally come to beg for money from well to do members of the public.”
He said that during the event, some unruliness was observed, and the police had to prevent those responsible from gaining access to the VIPs.
“We then chased them away and we arrested about eight of them. They are in our custody and we have started investigation.”
Okasanmi further stated that the motive for the unruly behavior was unknown, saying the police regarded those who were arrested as miscreants.
He said the police also learnt that one or two persons were injured, but that there were no official reports if any injuries occurred during the process of arrest. One or two vehicles may also have been damaged, he added, but the police have yet to see the any.
He suggested that the prayers went as planned and that the dignitaries returned to their destinations peacefully.
As reported earlier by SaharaReporters, the mob’s tempers flared when some hired female praise-singers took to the microphone in the midst of the Eid-el-Kabir prayers to chant the praise of Senator Saraki, who is being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on 13 counts of large-scale abuse of office and corruption.
In outrage against the sycophants and those responsible for their presence, many of the gathered Muslim faithful responded with shouts of “Ole, Ole, Ole!” [“Thief!”], and shelled the embarrassed Senate president and other dignitaries with whatever was available.
Our sources, including a member of the Senator’s delegation, said the attacks took Mr. Saraki’s security guards and aides by surprise. The chief imam abruptly ended the prayers.
Contrary to the account by the police spokesman, Mr. Saraki was then swiftly taken to safety by policemen and his private security.
The violent reaction to the singing of Mr. Saraki’s praises reflected a growing impatience on the part of state and local government employees who have not been paid for several months despite a federal bailout. Today’s hostilities also reflects the circulation of information about the intensive and extensive looting of Kwara State by the former governor during his eight years in charge that is at the heart of his latest and most serious legal troubles. His 2003 assets declaration, which has now been published, is the first clear indication of the greed and corruption by which the state has been run since that year.