Police didn't induce suspects to make statements against Saraki - Kwara PDP
The Chairman, Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, tells SUCCESS NWOGU how the political thugs arrested in connection with the bloody Offa bank robbery operate
do you agree that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed are being victimised or persecuted by the Federal Government through the police by linking them to the Offa robbery?
No, I do not think so. We must be objective in all our analysis or presentation on this matter. We should not tell lies against anybody. The grievances of the nPDP are not the same thing with the criminal allegations levelled against the Senate President and the governor. If they are pursuing their demands within their party without any link to crime, nobody will accuse them of committing any crime. Their nPDP activities have nothing to do with sponsoring thugs in Kwara State. If they did not sponsor thugs and if those thugs did not make any confession, I believe that the Presidency and the police will not manufacture lies against the Senate President and the governor. For instance, I do not believe that the suspects were induced to make confessional statements because those boys are closely associated with the Government of Kwara State. Secondly, the state government and Saraki have bought vehicles for the boys and I have had cause to raise the alarm on a radio programme to condemn the action in the immediate past. The vehicles in possession of the boys are without registered numbers. They were driving them around with customised number plates which have Saraki’s name inscribed on them.
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The fact that the boys were (allegedly) on the payroll of the state government was enough to dismiss insinuations that Saraki and Ahmed are being unnecessarily victimised by the police. So, it is better for them to go and clear the grey areas before creating an impression that they are being persecuted. I don't believe that they are suffering any form of persecution.
Why are you speaking so authoritatively?
I have witnessed some of the activities of the boys before and I was even a victim of their acts of thuggery in the past. They are used to disturbing the electorate and electoral process in Kwara State. I do not want people to mix the Offa robbery up with the violent activities of the thugs. I am not saying that Saraki participated in the robbery. I cannot even claim that he sent them to go and rob, No! But he emboldened them to live a life of crime. The boys relied on the authority of the number three citizen in Nigeria, fully armed with guns and all other instruments of violence, to do anything because they also enjoy the legitimate cover of government. Anybody with such patronage from high places will definitely take to the life of crime. So, the issue of robbery is a separate case. It is a known fact that Saraki and Ahmed are making use of those boys to perpetrate violence against perceived enemies during elections. When they are short of funds, they take to robbery. There is therefore, a nexus between the encouragement and patronage they are getting from the state government and the crime they committed. So, that is what we should look at instead of putting up an argument that they were not sent to go and rob.
Are you surprised by the confessions of the suspects?
It is in their own best interest to confess and let Nigerians know what led them to robbery. The suspected robbers could confess on their own volition and interest because if they fail to confess, and got convicted, they will die alone which will be painful even to their parents.
I am in agreement with their confessions; at least, it will teach politicians great lessons. They will know that they should not be encouraging violence or thuggery. Violence should not be part of politics, only those who are no longer popular among the populace and are becoming political liabilities that engage such boys to carry out violence in their opponents’ stronghold.
What other relationship do you know existed between the boys and the Saraki's political family?
Many factors established the fact that the suspected robbers are part of the Saraki political family. That has been demonstrated, except they come forward to prove that those things are fake. For instance, the boys have claimed that the Senate President kitted them. Our attention has also been drawn to the picture which one of the boys appeared in at the wedding ceremony of the Senate President's daughter. He was standing directly at the back of Saraki and his wife at the ceremony. With all those things, there is no doubt that they are very close.
The gang leader said they usually cause chaos wherever Saraki is not popular. Has your party been robbed of victory through that process before?
That has been the major political strategy of the Sarakis for a long time. They introduce violence into Kwara politics in 2003, pretending that it was the late Governor Mohammed Lawal that was doing that. The election of 2003 was won largely through violence. A particular boy from my area is among the arrested suspects. He participated actively in the violence that characterised the last local government election in the state.
What do you expect the police to do now?
The police, and by extension, the Federal Government, must not allow this case to be swept under the carpet. Already, many Nigerians have been saying that the case will be treated with levity because a very powerful politician has been indicted.
The police must therefore ensure that anybody linked to the bloody and merciless killings in Offa, should be decisively dealt with so that it will serve as a deterrent to all politicians. It is the best way of making politicians know that violence, thuggery and hooliganism should not be part of our politics. Apart from this, the greatest lesson should also go to the ‘good boys’. It is better for politicians to engage them in honest and meaningful venture, give them gainful employment and create a favourable environment for them to also excel rather than equipping them with arms to cause violence.
In 2003, several of these boys died while carrying out political thuggery. In fact, I prefer to say that the Saraki political family has one style of dealing with the boys. They are used and dumped. In most cases, when they finished making use of them, they abandon them because they believe that they may be exposed. My advice is that the police should be thorough in their investigation.