Suspects in the fatal armed robbery in Offa, Kwara State, told journalists yesterday that they were working as political thugs for Senate President Bukola Saraki and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, prompting the police to invite Saraki for questioning.
An alleged gang leader of the Offa bank robbers, Ayoade Akinnibosun, who was paraded with 14 other suspects at the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Headquarters in Abuja, said he coordinated the bank robberies in April 2018 in which 33 people were killed.
The victims included nine police officers and two pregnant women.
Responding to questions from journalists, the suspect said “My name is Ayoade Akinnibosun and my nick name is (AY). I am the chairman of Liberation Youth Movement Kwara South.”
“My involvement with the Senate President, We are his boys! We work for him at Kwara South; we are the ones that hold Kwara South for him.
“We have been working for him since when we were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it has been long, when he was Governor of Kwara State.”
Asked the nature of the work they do for Saraki, Akinnibosun said “We are the ones that do political arrangement for him. For example where we can’t win; we make ‘dabaru’ arrangement there…we scatter elections if we don’t win.”
He said, “The connection between me and the Senate president is that he is the one that is arranging everything for us. For example this car was given to me by his excellency Governor Fatai Ahmed, through the Chief of Staff as a gift from the leader, Bukola Saraki.”
The suspect said “I participated in the Offa robbery; I took this Lexus car to Offa.”
Asked if the State Governor or Bukola Saraki was aware of the robbery before they went for it, he said “They did not send us to the robbery, but because we are their political thugs, that was what led us to that robbery.”
He also said an aide of the governor was the one that gave them guns, but added that he was not aware of the robbery.
What we know so far – Police
Earlier, the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Jimoh Moshood, who paraded the suspects, named the five gang leaders as: Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, saying all of them confessed to killing two persons each.
There are also 17 other suspects. They include: Michael Adikwu (killed 22 persons), Kabiru Afolabi, Omoseni Kassim, Kayode Opadokun, Kazeem Abdulrasheed, Azeez Abdullahi, Adewale Popoola, Adetoyese Muftau, Alexander Reuben and Richard Buba Terry.
Others are: Peter Jasper Kuunfa, Ikechukwu Ebuka Nnaji, Moses Godwin, Adeola Omiyale, Femi Idowu, Alabi Olalekan PA Political to Executive Governor, Kwara State and Yusuf Abdulwahab Chief of Staff to Executive Governor, Kwara State.
He said the arrests were made possible after the arrest of two principal suspects Kunle Ogunleye and Michael Adikwu, an ex-convict whose pictures were circulated through the media.
Moshood said millions of naira from the banks and 21 AK47 rifles belonging to the police in the armoury of the Divisional Headquarters, Offa were admitted to have been carted away by the gang leaders during the robbery.
He said the five gang leaders confessed that they are political thugs under the name Youth Liberation Movement aka “Good Boys”.
Moshood said in the course of investigation, a Lexus jeep GX-300 (Ash Colour) with a sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” used by the gang leader, was taken to Government House, Ilorin on 16th May, 2018.
He said the number was removed and replaced with number (Reg. No. Kwara, KMA 143 RM) registered in the name of Ayoade Akinnibosun.
He said the exhibit vehicle was recovered from the premises of the Min. of Environmental and Forestry in Ilorin.
He added that the sticker plate number removed from the vehicle was recovered from one Adeola Omiyale who drove it to Government House immediately after the bank robbery.
Moshood said the Personal Assistant (Political) to the Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan, who is privy to information that the police is looking for the Lexus Jeep directed one Adeola Omiyale to relocate it to the Government House.
He said the PA is in custody and assisting the police in further investigation into the case.
He added that a revolver pistol and pump action gun were recovered by the police investigation team from Mr. Olalekan’s farm where he directed his brother to hide them after his arrest by the police.
Moshood said the Senate President is being invited by the Nigeria Police Force to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape, Abuja to respond to the confessions of the five gang leaders.
I’ll honour police invitation – Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday said he was ready to honour police invitation over the Offa armed robbery case if formally invited.
Saraki said this in a statement issued last night by his media aide Yusuph Olaniyonu.
“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.
“This plot is concocted to embarrass me and, in the mind of the IGP, it is his own response after his refusal to honour the invitation by the National Assembly, headed by me, for him to come and offer explanations on the rampant killings and violence across the country.
“Like the earlier one, this frame-up will also fail as I hereby state categorically that I have no link with any band of criminals.
“As a person who has utmost respect for the rule of law and all constitutional institutions, when the invitation from the police is formally extended to me, I will be ready to honour it without any delay,” he said.
Ahmed denies sponsoring, arming political thugs
Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has refuted police allegations of sponsoring, funding, arming or otherwise supporting political thuggery.
In a statement by his media aide, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, the governor described the allegations as false and rejected his alleged indictment by the police or the armed robbery suspects in their custody.
Governor Ahmed urged the police to complete their investigations and charge the suspects to court soon in line with the dictates of the rule of law.
“To set the records straight, the Kwara State Government has a well-known empowerment scheme under the Small And Medium Enterprises platform which is used to move women and youths groups into entrepreneurship.
“Consequently, several youth and women groups have benefitted from the scheme to date. However, at no point did the Kwara State government directly provide funds to any group known as Good Boys for any purpose.
Similarly, if any of the beneficiaries chose to use the SME credit secured from the government to purchase a vehicle which was then alleged to have been used for an act of criminality, the Kwara State Governor and indeed the state government cannot be held liable for such actions since neither had prior knowledge of such intentions on beneficiaries’ part,” the statement read.