Police summon Saraki, Melaye, others over protest

Written by on October 6, 2018

The police have summoned the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Ben Bruce to appear for investigation for “disturbing public peace and violently hitting policemen to forcefully enter the Force Headquarters, Abuja.”

The invitation came a few hours after Saraki led notable national leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in a protest to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday, calling on the commission to declare Ademola Adeleke winner of the Osun State governorship election.

They also protested at the police headquarters, Abuja

The Nigeria Police Force spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, in a statement said the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had directed an investigation into the “unprovoked and unwarranted attack on the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.”

It said that the lawmakers led miscreants to assault policemen and damage properties, asking the senators to report to the IGP Monitoring Unit at the Force Headquarters on Monday for investigation.

According to the police, Saraki, Melaye and Bruce were captured on camera causing public disturbance and obstructing traffic on Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, for hours.

The statement read in part, “Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Ben Bruce were captured on camera disturbing public peace and public safety and causing innocent people to scamper for safety.

“They were also involved in a violent attack on policemen at the Force Headquarters, pushing and hitting them in an attempt to forcefully enter the Force headquarters to cause damage to equipment and government properties.

“They are hereby invited to report themselves to the IGP Monitoring Unit at the Force Headquarters on Monday, 8th October, 2018 for investigation.”

During the protest, notable national leaders of the PDP were tear-gassed by the police during their protest over what they called the crooked way INEC and the police had been rigging elections in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the country.

Those who were tear-gassed were Saraki; the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; and the Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo.

Others who had a raw deal in the hands of the police were the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose; his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku; a former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; Melaye; Ben Murray-Bruce; and presidential aspirants, Danti Baba Ahmed and Tanimu Turaki.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, however, escaped being tear-gassed as he didn’t follow the protesters to the Police Force Headquarters, where the men were tear-gassed.

Dogara left shortly after the team visited the INEC headquarters at Maitama, Abuja.

Secondus and his team were complaining about the outcome of the recently held Osun State governorship election, which they believed was won by the PDP candidate, Adeleke, but was allegedly rigged in favour of the APC candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.

The protesters had stormed the police headquarters, Louis Edet House, but were prevented by the police from entering into the premises.

Aside from firing tear gas, the police also fired gunshots into the air to disperse the protesters who scampered for safety in different directions, with some people sustaining injuries.

Some of the protesters, as well as journalists who were affected by the tear gas, were revived with water.

Initially, Melaye who was at the forefront of the protest led by Saraki, Secondus, Tambuwal, Lamido and others, tried to defy the police onslaught against them, but eventually ran for safety when the fume of the tear gas became unbearable to them.

Earlier at the INEC headquarters, the PDP protesters had called on the commission to desist from having further inconclusive elections and to also be fair and firm in its conduct, urging it to stop working for the APC.

They said Nigerians would not take anything less than free, fair and credible elections in 2019.

At the INEC office, Secondus said, “You are pushing Nigerians to the wall and when you push them to the wall, there will be resistance. We hope we will not get there, but this will serve as a notice.

“Nigerians have left you. You cannot change the will of the people by force, take note and stop directing the security agencies and INEC to rig elections. You must come out clean. What we expect from you is to conduct free and fair elections.”

Also speaking, Saraki said, “We are here representing millions of Nigerians to speak to you, INEC, that you have a responsibility by law, by the constitution, to do what is right for all Nigerians.

“Enough is enough of elections that are not credible. Enough is enough of impunity. Enough is enough of harassment. INEC, you met a standard, don’t take us back.

“Nigeria has raised the standard of electoral processes, take us forward, don’t take us backward. The last two elections have been said all over villages, towns, Africa and other continents that it was a sham. INEC, enough is enough.

“Just last night, the Senate and Congress in the United States issued a statement saying enough is enough. We must have credible elections in Nigeria.

Also, Fayose said the result of the governorship election in Osun State had shown the APC was being rejected by Nigerians.

He said, “We want to let INEC know a few things and remind them that the damage done to this country is enough. The damage done to our democracy and, by extension, the common man is enough.

“If the people cannot choose their leader anymore, then we are in trouble. In 2014, the APC won the governorship election in Osun State by 114,000 votes.

“But this last election, with all the rigging, the APC won by 400 votes, that is a statement enough to say that the APC is no more in demand in Nigeria.

“We are not asking for favours, this country and this INEC belong to Nigerians and Nigerians must be respected by allowing them to make a choice.

“If (former President Goodluck) Jonathan had behaved this way, we would not have a Buhari in power. We have a Buhari in power because somebody thought the rights of Nigerians must not be trampled upon by INEC and everybody received the present administration with open arms.

Tambuwal said he expected the INEC chairman to be above board in his handling of the affairs of the commission.

We’re professionals, not politicians –INEC

Responding to their demands, the INEC National Commissioner on Legal Matters, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the commission would take the protest seriously.

He also said the commission would do its best in 2019.

Agbamuche-Mbu said, “I want to thank you and inform you all that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu would have received you all. The commission takes this demonstration very seriously. We are happy the protest is peaceful and carried out in a civilised manner.

“INEC is up to this job, we are all here in INEC as professionals and not politicians. We are going to do our best come 2019.

“I must say we are a team and decisions are made by the commission and not by any individual. All your comments have been noted and they will be passed to the chairman and the entire commission.”

Meanwhile, notable presidential aspirants of the PDP absent at the protest were former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Ahmed Makarfi, David Mark, Jonah Jang and Attahiru Bafarawa.

The People’s Democratic Party has reacted to what it called the police brutality against its leaders.

It described it as “dastardly, unwarranted and unprovoked,” adding the “unleashing of violence on our leaders, including the Senate President and state governors, by the police was condemnable.”

The PDP, however, vowed that no amount of attacks, aggression or acts of intimidation would deter it from confronting and dismantling the rigging machinery of the APC and coast to victory in 2019.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement, “The whole world was shocked when the police assaulted, fired tear gas and violently dispersed our party leaders who were on a peaceful protest at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, over the use of police by the APC to rig elections, particularly the September 22, 2018 Osun State governorship election.

“Acting on ‘orders from above,’ the police assaulted our elected leaders, including our national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose; our presidential aspirants, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, Kabiru Tanimu, Mallam Sule Lamido, among others.

“This unwarranted attack has left no one in doubt that our police have finally been turned into a militant wing of the APC, with direct orders to use force to repress opposition and turn our nation into a one-party state.

“It has also shown that the police, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has officially declared war on the opposition and there is no way our safety is guaranteed under the current police leadership.

“If the police, which ought to protect the people, the law and the democratic process, could show such violent aggression on notable leaders, then it can no longer be trusted with the welfare and safety of regular citizens.

Ologbondiyan called on Nigerians and the international community to “rise up in direct condemnation of the APC’s use of state apparatus of power against law-abiding citizens and groups.”

Protesters are mentally unstable, says Aregbesola

On his part, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, described leaders of the opposition PDP, who protested to the headquarters of INEC over the conduct of the state governorship election as mentally unstable.

Aregbesola spoke in an interview with State House correspondents shortly after formally presenting the state governor-elect, Gboyega Oyetola, to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Aregbesola said it was an act of gross irresponsibility for those who ought to know the due process to embark on such protest.

The governor said, “I will not even respond to this (the protest) because what you are referring to is a charade, an act of gross irresponsibility from people who ought to know that after an election, the only option left for every responsible citizen is to go to the tribunal.

“And again interestingly, the other party defeated in the election is already in the tribunal. I don’t now know what the protest you are talking about is meant to do.

“If you are already in court and you are still doing a street protest, it is either you are not mentally stable or you need psychiatric attention.”

Aregbesola said they were at the Presidential Villa to thank Buhari for his support towards the state governorship election.

Oyetola, also in an interview, promised to run a very transparent government in the state.

At the meeting with Buhari, the Chairman of the APC Governorship Election Campaign in Osun State and Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, and Aregbesola, had formally presented the governor-elect and the deputy governor-elect to the President.

Police claims crude lies, laughable –Saraki

Meanwhile, Saraki on Friday night responded to the statement issued by the police.

Saraki, in the statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, dismissed as lies, the claims made by the police.

The statement read in part, “After carefully reading the Police statement, one cannot but describe the claims made in it as laughable, crude and another low point in the posture of the police against the opposition in the country.”

Olaniyonu explained that the protest was held “in exercise of their constitutional right of assembly, expression and movement.”

The statement further read, “We wanted to send a clear signal that such official subversion of the will of the people in favour of the APC should not be repeated in the 2019 elections.”

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