Concerns Mount over ‘Missing’ Offa Bank Robbery Gang Leaders
- They are in custody, say police
- Saraki: It’s a move to embarrass me
Olawale Olaleye in Lagos and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
As the nation awaits the outcome of police investigation into the April 5, 2018 Offa, Kwara State armed robbery attack in which 33 persons were killed, there were concerns at the weekend over the whereabouts of the gang leaders, Innocent Adikwu, a former police officer, and Kayode Opadokun, a son of an Afenifere chieftain, who were arrested along with 20 of their members, but have not been paraded by the police since their detention.
The police had penultimate week, paraded some of the suspects, one of who claimed that they were political thugs of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, making the police to summon the Senate president to report to its investigators at its Guzape, Abuja office for interrogation.
Saraki, who promptly denied the allegation, had taken to his Twitter handle to announce that the police had withdrawn their summons and requested him to make a written submission on the suspects’ claim.
Last Thursday, the Senate president said he had sent his written response to the police but gave no details of its content.
But an impeccable THISDAY source said Saraki firmly denied any links with the suspects, contending that the entire saga was contrived by the police leadership to embarrass him.
His rebuttal and contention that the police leadership might have contrived the ongoing drama received some credence at the weekend as speculations became rife that the two ring leaders might have gone missing.
Ayoade Akinnibosun, one of the suspects paraded by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, had told journalists that Adikwu was their leader who used his police connection to secure the arms and ammunition they used in the robbery operation, raising queries on why the police have yet to parade him.
Although Moshood told THISDAY last night that the suspected ring leaders were in police custody and helping with the investigation, there were still questions on why they were being kept incommunicado.
He said in a text message, “They are alive, helping the police further in the investigation of the bank robbery, including the recovery of 21 AK 47 riffles carted away by their gang during the attack on the Offa Police Divisional Headquarters.”
Moshood challenged anyone that said the two suspects had been killed extra-judicially should produce their bodies. “Police don’t kill people, they protect people,” he said.
According to a THISDAY source, however, there might be more to the absence of the ring leaders than meets the eye as intelligence report say that former police officer Adikwu might have been set up to entrap known thugs that are associated with Saraki, Abdulfatah and the APC in Kwara State.
The source queried the refusal of the police to release to the public the statements of the ring leaders, arguing that the selective publication of the statements of the other suspects, who implicated Saraki, might have been intended to prejudice the mind of the public against the Senate president.
“The public ought to be given the benefit of the statements of all the suspects so that they could make up their mind on the culpability of all those mentioned in connection with the heist,” the source said.
THISDAY, however, gathered at the weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari has told the Inspector General of Police, Idris Hassan, that while he (Buhari) would not interfere with his job, he would, however, not tolerate any shoddy investigation that could undermine the integrity of the institution of the National Assembly.
The president, according to the source, has cautioned the police boss and asked him to handle the ongoing investigation with utmost care.
It was with the assurance of the presidential directive for careful and fair investigation, THISDAY gathered, that gave Saraki the confidence to make a written response to the police on Thursday.
The police confirmed to THISDAY last night that Saraki’s written response to the allegations against him had been received by the investigators.
“I was told by the investigators that he has made a written response to the allegations by the suspects,” the Force Public Relations Officers, Jimoh Moshood, said in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, insisting he could not say more in order not to jeopardise ongoing investigation into the case.
But a presidency source privy to the investigation also confirmed the response of the Senate president, saying Saraki emphatically denied any relationship with the suspects and contended that his linkage to the alleged criminals was a ploy by the police to embarrass him.
In his response since sent to the police, according to the THISDAY source, Saraki stated that he knew nothing about the whole drama and that from his reading of whole saga, it was all concocted to embarrass him as well as reduce the institution of the Senate.
Some of police sources that were privy to the written response also hinted that the Senate president reminded the IG that he was the first to visit the state to commiserate with both the people and the police, and had spoken to the IG right from the palace of Olofa of Offa, where they both agreed on the need to improve the security of the state.
Noting that he had never had any form of contact with the criminals aside the name-dropping that had been trending, Saraki was said to have also reminded the police IG in his response that when he spoke to him on the robbery, he even went ahead to list some of the demands of the people in the area on how to improve their security in the area, in addition to donating the sum of N10,000,000 (ten million naira) as the first response to whatever they needed at the time.
He, therefore, considered as unfair, any attempt to link him with the criminals, because there could not have been any meeting point between him and the criminals.
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