The police are yet to arrest the man who grabbed and made away with the Senate mace when he and his accomplices attacked in April.
A commissioner of police, Habu Sani, said this when he appeared before members of the National Assembly ad-hoc committee investigating the incident on Tuesday.
Although the police announced it had arrested six suspects in connection to the invasion, Mr Sani said the arrow man, who grabbed the mace is still at large.
PREMIUM TIMES had published the picture and videos of the main thief who picked the mace from its position. The police are, however, yet to formally declare him wanted, despite admitting he is yet to be arrested.
The chairman of the investigative committee, Bala Na’Allah, said the committee would like to know the present status of the suspects who were arrested by the command but transferred to the force headquarters.
Mr Na’Allah read from the National Assembly station diary of the entry calling the names of the suspects and items found on them.
The items include two phones, two charms, one Kogi government house staff identity card, and sticker named Kogi women and youth empowerment foundation, among others.
After taking an oath, Mr Sani explained that the police are yet to conclude their investigation and thus he would skip on some facts so as not to jeopardise the probe.
He said there were two investigations which have yielded an interim report; one initiated at the police headquarters and a second at the FCT command of the force.
“But the focus at that time (day of the theft) was for us to get the suspects. Unfortunately, the alleged suspects were taken by the command headquarters with the senator, Omo-Agege, that was said to be responsible for bringing some of the hoodlums.
“As at that time, from the other side of the force investigation, we have not seen the suspects. They are still in the custody of the police command and we allow them to carry out some preliminary investigation before transferring the case while we continue to give the technical and special attention to unravel the theft or possible removal of the Senate mace.
“Since the command is conversant with the environment, they were allowed to continue the investigation.”
Mr Sani said the six arrested were not found with the mace and that is what the police is trying to unravel.
“What we have is that on that fateful day, a suspended senator made himself available at the plenary on the ground that the senate has no right to suspend him. Alongside with him, there are people who claimed to be his aide and assisted him to enter the chamber. While they were there, an incident happened that a non-member of the Senate took the mace out.
“The only aspect we needed to go further is trying to see the link between them and the removal. As at the time they were arrested, the mace was not recovered from them, rather, it was recovered outside. That means, if the number with the statement by the clerk that they are five and we have six suspects. That means the number he saw may be more than that. It means we have to expand and that is what we are doing.”
Angry at Mr Sani’s account, especially on the fact that officers handling the case at the police headquarters have never sighted the already arrested suspects, the co-chair, Betty Apiafi, a member of the House of Representatives, questioned the police officer on their competence and pace of the investigation.
“I’m just wandering what kind of investigation you are doing when the prime suspects are in the command and you haven’t seen them one month after,” she said.
Next was the bombshell.
Mr Sani informed the lawmakers that the man who took the mace from its position in the chamber is still at large.
“Among the suspects that were suspects, the person who took the mace was not among those ones arrested, that means he was part of those that ran away with the mace,” he said
Like Mrs Apiafa, other lawmakers took turn to condemn the slow pace of the police investigation.
The lawmakers also questioned him on why the police did not harmonise their resources and carry out one investigation instead of two.
Mr Sani used the response opportunity to reiterate his earlier statement that the prime suspect has not been arrested.
“That’s why I said all these denial wouldn’t have taken place if we have the CCTV camera. Even the person that was recorded to have stolen the mace was not part of them (those arrested.)”
Mr Na Allah asked Mr Sani to communicate with the officer handling the case at the FCT command to appear before the committee by 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Mr Sani asked that the communication should be formal and directly communicated. The lawmakers agreed.
Mr Na’Allah also questioned the police’ method in handling the case. He said the police is not following the rule of law by keeping the suspects beyond 24 hours without charging them to court.
He noted that the action or inaction of the police will either confirm or deny allegations of their complicity in the invasion, hence, the need to do better.
PREMIUM TIMES published an exclusive story detailing the complicity of security officials in the invasion.
The police officer submitted the interim report after being assured by the committee chairman that the content would not be leaked to press.