The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has accused the Nigerian police of diverting the attention of Nigerians from the death of the principal suspect of the April 5 deadly bank robbery in Kwara State.
He stated this barely 24 hours after he called on the presidency to institute a judicial inquiry into how and when the suspect died.
Kwara State Commissioner for Justice, Kamal Ajibade, on Wednesday told the State High Court in Ilorin during the arraignment of five of the robbery suspects that the principal suspect, Michael Adikwu, has died in police custody.
The police commissioner did not disclose the nature of the death, the justice commissioner said. He also sought an adjournment to enable the prosecution amend the charges and remove the name of the deceased suspect.
Mr Saraki said the disclosure by the police vindicated his earlier claim that the suspect had been murdered in police custody and that the investigation was politically motivated to implicate him, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and a few others.
The police on Thursday, however, released a statement saying Mr Adikwu simply slumped and died. The police also said his death does not absolve Mr Saraki and Mr Ahmed of any alleged role in the April fatal bank robbery in Offa. The police said Mr Saraki was still being investigated and that the other five suspects being prosecuted were the ones who mentioned the senate president as their sponsor.
In another statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Friday, Mr Saraki said the response of the police to his call for an inquiry into how the suspect died was a mere diversionary tactic aimed at evading the serious issues of human rights abuse, extra-judicial killing and politicisation of criminal investigations.
He explained that when he mentioned that he had been vindicated, he was not referring to the outcome of a case which is just about to commence but rather he was pointing to the belated admission by the police that Mr Adikwu died in custody, a fact the police initially denied when Mr Saraki raised it a few months ago.
He said the police in a cover-up of its mishandling of the investigations and their politicisation of the process have continued to make inconsistent statements and commit more blunders.
“The police while reacting to our disclosure that the prime suspect had died in custody, caused their spokesman, Moshood Jimoh, to respond that: ‘Michael Adikwu is in police custody in one of the South-west states…helping in the investigation’. The same Police (have) equally documented the claim that the suspect died during arrest. What a contradiction!
“It is surprising that the Police which initially allowed the said Adikwu to grant interviews to several national newspapers while in custody refused to inform the public that the suspect had died until the Attorney General of Kwara State mentioned it on November 21, 2018 in the course of his address to the High Court in Ilorin while applying to amend the charge sheet”, he said.
The lawmaker also stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to institute an inquiry into the death of Mr Adikwu because “it has several implications for the country’s legal system and its engagement with the international community which has consistently cited the issues of human rights abuse and extra-judicial killing by security forces as major reasons for their reluctance to sell arms to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram.
“One of the key issues those of us who have been engaging with the international community on the need for them to support Nigeria in the fight against terrorism in the North-east region through supply of arms, provision of training and other technical aid have been confronting is that of the flagrant abuse of human rights and extra-judicial killing by our security agencies.
“This is an instance of what these international partners complain about. The Presidency should make a point that the present government does not tolerate human rights abuses; extra-judicial killings; politically-motivated criminal investigations; and refusal to comply with global best practices by security agencies by instituting an inquiry into the case of the death of this suspect”, he stated.
He called for the diligent prosecution of the Offa robbery case so that justice can be done to the innocent victims, the suspects facing trial and the state whose peace was disturbed by the incident.
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