Senate President, Bukola Saraki
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has accused police officers of providing cover for thugs who are attacking his supporters in Kwara State.
Mr Saraki also accused the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, of ‘undue interference’ in the Kwara police command
He asked Nigerians to hold the police boss responsible if anything untoward happens to him and family members.
He said this while addressing the press at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
Describing it as a ‘sad development’ Mr Saraki said the police are giving cover to “people who are unleashing violence on our people”.
Mr Saraki presented three cases of what he described as police hostility to him and his supporters recently.
“Yesterday, after the APC concluded their campaigns in Ilorin, some of their supporters and thugs moved around town and in areas like Adewole/Adeta, Ile Otan and Ubandawaki/Pakata where they saw our people gathered holding their weekly ward meeetings, they disrupted the meetings by shouting their party slogan and when our people responded by mentioning our own slogan, they fired gun shots into their midst in Adewole/Adeta. They also inflicted matchete cuts on some of them. As a result of this attack, two people suffered bullet wounds.
“Also yesterday, these same APC thugs shielded by policemen went to my family quarters in Agbaji in Ilorin, and vandalised houses, shops and inflicted wounds with matchete on three people. All these destructions took place in the presence of policemen who came with them but watched without any care, as the APC thugs and supporters unleashed violence on our people.
“For me, personally, I believe the decision to attack people and properties in my family ancestral compound is a direct affront and attack on my person. And whatever signal these APC elements with support from the police believe they are sending is definitely sinister, uncivilised and unfortunate.
“Our people have filed reports of the incidents in relevant police stations in Ilorin but we have doubts that anything tangible and constructive will come out of these reports.”
Mr Saraki, serving out his second time as senator governed Kwara for eight years.
In the forthcoming election, he is vying to return to the Senate in his Kwara Central senatorial district after losing out in his bid to run for presidency under the PDP.
Mr Saraki and the police chief have a long-running battle which intensified in 2018 when Mr Idris shunned invitations to appear before the Senate plenary thrice.
The Senate President on Friday also accused the Mr Idris of controlling police commissioners in the state, “giving them order to work against him”.
Mr Saraki vowed to continue with his grassroots campaign with a caveat that Nigerians should hold Mr Idris responsible if anything untoward happens to him.
“The same Police under the directive of Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Kpotum Idris yesterday commenced the transfer of Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) out of Kwara State. While the police are free to take decisions on the deployment of their personnel, we found the postings in Kwara State strange and more than a mere coincidence.
“It should also be noted that IGP has posted three different Commissioners of Police to Kwara State in the last six months. In fact, the previous and current Commissioner of Police in the State got strict instructions from the IGP not to relate or engage with the Senate President.
“The usual practice has been that the Commissioner of Police personally ensures the security of the Senate President whenever he visits his home state. That was the practice during the period of my predecessor and in my first year in office.
“We need to make it clear to the entire world that now that ward to ward campaigns is about to begin in the state and I am set to participate in that grassroots campaign as I have always done, nobody is sure what instructions Mr Idris has given to the police command in the state.
“Thus, the entire world should hold the IGP responsible if anything untoward happens to members of my family and myself.
“Do not forget that before now, this same IGP has tried several tricks to implicate me in some criminal charges. First, he arrested some cultists and was about to compel them to claim they worked for me.
“We exposed the trick early enough and the media also pointed out holes in his story. He quickly withdrew that. Later, he went on to the Offa robbery case and politicised the investigation in order to rope me.
“In the process of forcing suspects to implicate me, the principal suspect died in their custody. He has also not succeeded with that plot. Who knows what else he may have planned. Now, that full campaign is on, which requires my going round, I want the world to hold him personally responsible if anything happens to me.”
When contacted, the police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, did not respond to multiple calls Saturday morning. He has not responded to a text message as at press time.