The Nigerian Police Force has asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to respond to allegations linking him to the Offa bank robbery, within 48 hours rather than appearing in person.
The announcement comes minutes after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met behind closed-doors with the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, as well as the head of State Security Service, Lawal Daura, at the State House.
The police had said on Sunday that it would be inviting Saraki as five of the robbery suspects, reported to have confessed to the crime, indicted him.
The five gang leaders had claimed that they were political thugs of the Senate President and the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
The Force Spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, in a statement, said the bank robbery led to the death of 33 persons including some pregnant women and nice police officers.
“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.
Despite the allegation, the Senate President has denied having any connection with the robbery.
In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki 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, Mr 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”.
Speaking further, Saraki said the development was part of plans to embarrass him after the IGP had failed to honour invitations by the National Assembly over the killings across the country.
He, however, insisted that he had no hand in the case but will honour the police invitation when it is formally extended to him.