Bukola Saraki's supporters' fruitless journey to Lagos

Just before noon, Monday, a convoy comprising of vehicles of the Kwara State government and chartered commercial buses pulled up outside the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) at Milverton Road, Ikoyi.

Accompanying the convoy were the Kwara State Chief Press Secretary, Wahab Oba, who is also a former chairman of the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists; the State Peoples Democratic Party Chairman (PDP), Ishola Balogun; and other top Kwara State government staff and party officials.

The former Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki, was billed to appear at the SFU office to answer questions over an alleged N21billion loan scam.

Prior to the arrival of the entourage from Ilorin, armed police officers (apparently from Ilorin too) had arrived to keep guard before the arrival of the former governor who is now a serving senator.

Though Dr. Saraki in a statement on Saturday said he would answer the police call by 9 a.m; by noon there was still no sign of him.

And if the supporters – and their accompanying police officers – who made the four hour road trip from Ilorin, had any inkling he’d never turn up, they did not show it.

Shortly after they arrived, they gathered and walked enmasse towards the SFU’s gate chanting solidarity songs.

“We are here to show solidarity to our leader and mentor,” said Mr. Balogun, while addressing journalists.

“For the past eight years, Saraki is somebody that has turned Kwara to an industrial state,” Mr. Balogun continued. 

“Kwara state is known as a civil service state before he came but for the past eight years, the development we have gotten is very very tremendous,” he said.

And the women, bearing posters of Dr. Saraki, sang and danced, telling the police to “let the matter die.”

The officers at the SFU heard them – virtually everyone had abandoned his desk in the office – to come and watch the women dance.

The women did not only dance; they also hustled for who would address the more than a half dozen journalists.

A woman in traditional Yoruba attire began to introduce herself to journalists as the women leader before she was abruptly hushed by Mr. Balogun.

A fair skinned woman, who had been nodding violently in agreement during Mr. Balogun’s ‘solidarity’ speech, took the centre stage.

And she spoke.

“We are not saying that police should not do their job,” said Ebun Owolabi, the fair lady, who is a member of the Kwara State House of Assembly.

“We are only vouching for him. That this man is a man of integrity.

The crowd were nodding violently in agreement.

“They should treat him like a man of integrity and honour.” Mrs. Owolabi added.

More posters of Dr. Saraki appeared; the crowd chanted higher; the women danced harder.

Another crowd had gathered in front of the SFU gate, most of them plain-clothed police officers, to watch the dance troupe from Ilorin.

One of the police officers, apparently a senior one, then decided that the party was over.

“You people should stop taking their pictures, that’s why they are still dancing,” the officer told journalists.

And then he turned to his colleagues and bellowed.

“Everybody back to work.”

The Ilorin crowd – sweat and exhaustion now spread across their faces – have passed their message to the police and also to the journalists. 

Their convoyed lined up again for their return journey.

“He is a person who always preach that he always want everything to be transparent,” said Mr. Balogun.

“We believe him that he can never do such a thing,” Mr. Balogun said.

And they left.

By 2.p.m, normalcy returned to the SFU office – plain-clothed officers moaning loudly about their recent out station postings; citizens pleading with officers to help “fast track” their cases; and the usual throng of visitors into the premises. 

But there was no sign of Dr. Saraki.

The senator had shunned Lagos, and had sneaked into the Force Headquarters n Abuja for interrogation, even without hinting his supporters.

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