Lai Mohammed Attacks Senate President Bukola Saraki Over Offa Robbery
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of “dancing on the graves of the innocent souls who died in the April 5, 2018 armed robbery attack in Offa”.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, the minister said Mr Saraki should stop playing politics with the unfortunate incident.
He said his response came after Mr. Saraki reportedly said in a radio interview that he donated N10 million when he visited Offa to commiserate with the people in the aftermath of the robbery, even when the amount that was stolen from the robbed banks’ vaults was N7 million.
The robbery which occured in April left over 30 people dead in Offa, Kwara state.
Two months after the robbery, the police invited Mr Saraki to answer questions bordering on murder allegations.
The police said five of the suspects incriminated Mr Saraki as their main financier and arms supplier. Mr Saraki has since denied the allegation.
The Minister said the “overly aggressive and crude response” by MrSaraki to his earlier warning had shown that the Senate president was not ready to heed the admonition.
Mr Mohammed said in the wake of his warning, the “apparently embarrassing” radio interview was hurriedly edited to remove all references to the Offa robbery and then re-aired across Kwara state.
”Instead of stopping at that, which in itself constitutes an acceptance of wrong-doing, Dr. Saraki went ahead to hurl insults at me, even when I have been largely restrained in issuing my earlier warning. Had I not been restrained, I would have gone ahead to divulge
what actually transpired.
”For example, the claim by Dr. Saraki that he donated 10 million Naira to care for the victims of the Offa robbery is patently false.
He did not! The 10 million he referred to was donated when the Offa market got burnt, and it was made in Ilorin, not Offa. When Dr Saraki visited Offa to commiserate with the community in the aftermath of the robbery, he did not donate a dime! I challenge him to prove me wrong.
”But with politics in the air, the truth becomes the first casualty. Realizing that he goofed, Dr. Bukola apparently caused the radio interview in question to be edited to remove the donation reference, and then re-aired. Is it not an irony that the people who engaged in this egregious act of dishonesty are the same ones calling others names?” the Minister queried.
He said he will continue to steer the debate on the political developments in Kwara State to issues rather than exchange of personal insults, which he has always been averse to.
”The people of Kwara, who are bone-tired of the long years of ‘bolekaja’ governance in the state, are all saying in one voice, ‘O to ge’ (enough is enough), and will soon have the opportunity to express their frustration with their votes,” the Minister said.
Mr Saraki’s spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, dismissed the minister’s comments as falsehoods.
He insisted his principal donated N10 million for the treatment of victims of Offa Robert.
Mr Olaniyonu in a statement said those who were trying to implicate the Senate President in the robbery case were so fixated on that mission that they were messing up with the due process that would give justice to the victims, both dead and alive.
“During the Senate President’s syndicated radio interview, he made it clear that it was unthinkable that anybody would want to link him with armed robbery or violence against his own people. He stated categorically that anybody that would want to link him to such violence should first ask what he has to gain from such a dastardly act.
“It was then the Senate President mentioned that the desperate narrative that has been spun to implicate him after the robbery does not make any sense, as when he visited the monarch, he donated N10million for the care of the wounded — while it has been revealed that the money stolen by the robbers was just N7million.
“Dr. Saraki also stated that those who have tried and have failed to implicate him in the Offa robbery, have been so fixated on that unsuccessful mission that they are now trampling on the due process that would give justice to the victims, both dead or alive, and much-needed closure to their families and the affected community.”
Mr Olaniyonu attacked the minister, describing his utterances as “deliberate misinformation”.
“One thing is clear, the Nigerian public and the people of Offa know that Lai Mohammed’s utterances are synonymous with deliberate misinformation, unbridled untruths, and outright falsehoods. Right now, he is only playing the cheap politics that he is known to play when the general elections come around.
“The Offa people know how to differentiate between leaders like Dr. Saraki who have stood with them throughout the years and those Lagos-based politicians, like Lai Mohammed, who only come around to make noise, spew political propaganda, and use the tragic loss of their sons and daughters as cheap political points in an election season,” the statement quoted him saying.
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