Offa bank robbery: Police backtrack, give Saraki 48 hours to reply allegations

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The Nigeria Police authorities have asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to respond to allegations linking him to the Offa bank robbery within 48 hours rather than appearing in person as earlier requested.

The Force Headquarters, Abuja, had, over the weekend, invited the Senate President to come and respond to allegations by five of the suspects arrested over the April 2018 Offa bank robberies in which 30 persons, including nine policemen, died.

“The Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki is being invited by the Nigeria Police Force to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape, Abuja to answer to the allegations levelled against him from the confessions of the Five (5) Gang Leaders and some of the other 17 suspects arrested for direct involvement and active participation in the Offa Bank Robbery and the gruesome killing of 33 innocent persons which includes some pregnant women and nine Police personnel,” the police statement read in part.

But Saraki has denied having denied having any connection with the robbery that took place in Offa, a town in Kwara state.

In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President described the allegations as “baseless” and “another ploy by the Police to implicate him by all means”.

According to him, when the incident happened, he was the first top public official to pay a visit to the place after which he also put a call through to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, to make the necessary security arrangements.

He said, “Let it be known that there is no way I could have been associated with armed robbery against my people. When the Offa robbery incident happened, I was the first top public official to pay a visit to the place and right there in the palace of the traditional ruler, I put a call through to this same Mr Ibrahim Idris, the IGP, requesting him to make certain specific security arrangements as demanded by the people.

“Members of the public will remember that on May 16, 2018, I alerted the Senate about the information passed on to me by my State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatai Ahmed, over a plot by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to frame me up by getting some suspected cultists arrested in Ilorin to implicate me.

“It is believed that the timely leakage of the plot, in that case, aborted the use of the suspected cultists to implicate me. Now, it is the Offa bank robbery suspects that are about to be used.”

Earlier on Monday, Saraki disclosed that he had asked his aide to obtain the letter of invitation extended to him by the Police to enable him to honour the “alleged invitation immediately”.

Taking to his verified Twitter handle on Monday, Saraki wrote, “I have just informed my ADC to get the letter of invitation from @PoliceNG in respect of the allegations raised yesterday — so that I can immediately honour the alleged invitation.”

The Senate President would later tweet that he now has a formal communication from the police, but it was not for him to appear but rather to answer questions bordering on the robbery in Offa, Kwara State, in April.

“Following my earlier tweet, I have received the letter from @PoliceNG. They are no longer asking me to appear at any station, but to respond in writing to the allegations within 48 hours — which I plan to do,” he tweeted.

The announcement comes minutes after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met behind closed-doors with Saraki and police chief, Ibrahim Idris, as well as the head of Department of State Service, Lawal Daura, at the Aso Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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