…for special prayers
Supporters storm 2 sacred sites in Ilorin
Praying for him is legitimate –Aide
By Biodun Oyeleye
Some kinsmen of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, are not leaving anything to chance as his battle with the executive arm of government and the police intensifies. While some his kinsmen at Agbaji area of Ilorin have expressed support for the Inspector General of Police in the face-off, some have stood with their son, to the extent of undertaking spiritual missions to offer prayers for his victory in the controversy triggered by the arrest of some suspects in the Offa robbery.
Some of the arrested suspects in connection with the crime had allegedly confessed to being political thugs of the Senate President. Sources within the Saraki political family informed Saturday Telegraph that intense prayers have begun in some sacred sites in Ilorin, as well as Saudi Arabia to ensure Saraki’s triumph. This came as a former aide to the Senate President and governorship aspirant in the forthcoming general elections, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha, said the Saraki that he knew had neither criminal record nor engaged in criminality all the years he spent working with him.
Clerics in Ilorin, Saudi Arabia offer special prayers
Checks by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the prayers aimed at seeking divine intervention for Saraki involved local and foreign clerics. Although it was not possible to know their specific number, it was gathered that some clerics who are currently in Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj, are equally engaged in the task. Some of these clerics are said to be performing the religious rites on the bill of the Senate President who recently took over the sponsorship of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages in the state.
Although some of the Nigerian clerics in Saudi Arabia had departed before the controversy between Saraki and the police began, it was gathered that they have been mobilised to ensure intense intercession for the Senate President during the holy month of Ramadan, using the opportunity of being in the Holy city.
One of the sources, who is in a position to know about the developments, said: “Apart from Saudi Arabia, I can confirm that selected clerics have also begun praying at two sacred sites in Ilorin; we have one site at Oke Sunna which is where it is believed the first clerics in Ilorin actually settled. “It is the origin of the clerics in the city and there is no prayers you take there that is not answered. Oke Sunna is very special and significant to us here in Ilorin and everyone knows”, he said.
The second site according to others sources is the Eid Praying Ground along Asa Dam Road. The site is the central assembly point for congregational prayers on special occasion such as the Eid Kabir and Eid el Fitri. The site is being used by women supporters of the Senate President for their daily prayers, according to investigation.
“The belief here is that these are sacred sites and whenever you have challenges, you can go there and be sure of divine intervention”. Asked for comment on the development, the Senior Legislative Aide to the Senate President on Media, Alhaji Abdullahi Olesin, said there was nothing wrong for Saraki’s kinsmen or his followers to organise special prayers for him at a time like this, saying it is however certain that the people were doing so on their own without being prodded by Saraki himself.
He said: “Oga has a lot of followers who are very committed to his cause and when there is a development like what we have now, they will go all out to offer their best in prayers and intercessions for him. Remember he once thanked the women for their prayers which he said he got to know about during the CCCT trial so it is not that he is the one behind these various prayers you said are going on; they are the works of his supporters and it is legitimate
Women intercedes for Senate President
Hundreds of women from across Kwara State had during the week in Ilorin organised a special prayer, asking God to grant Saraki victory in what they described as his present ordeal in the hands of the Nigeria Police Force. The women recited verses from the holy Qur’an and prayed fervently to God to protect Saraki whom they noted has been having a running battle with the police establishment.
They asked President Muhammadu Buhari and “his cohorts” to leave Saraki alone and direct the police hierarchy to order. Leader of the group, Hajia Ramat Oganija, in a chat with newsmen said they resorted to prayer because they were convinced that Saraki was being implicated in the recent Offa bank robbery whereas they we sure he “couldn’t hurt a fly”.
Oganija said the news of the invitation to Saraki by the police over the recent Offa robbery attacks came to the women group a rude shock, noting that Saraki had encouraged entrepreneurship by empowering women and youths in the state to be economically self reliance. “We were and still shocked by the development because over the years we have known our leader as a compassionate and kind hearted man who could not hurt a fly. Our leader abhors violence in all its ramifications.”
“Just like every right thinking individuals, we, women of Kwara State see the police latest action as nothing but a fresh plot by the Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja, to implicate the President of the Senate in the April 5, 2018, dastardly armed robbery attacks on banks in Offa. “Nigerians from all walks of life have blamed the wanton killings of harmless citizens in Offa on that Black Day on the inefficiency of men and officers of the Nigeria Police.
“It’s instructive to note that this latest ploy to frame Saraki came after an earlier failed attempt by the Force Headquarters to frame our leader in a murder case involving some suspected cultists. “It is on record that Saraki, because of his love for the people of Offa was the first public officer to visit the town after the robbery incident to commiserate with Olofa and the people of the town over the unfortunate incident. “We are also pleased that both the Senate President and our amiable governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed had dissociated themselves from the armed robbery suspects.
“We are using this forum to call on stakeholders in the Nigeria’s affairs to prevail on President Muhammad Buhari to call the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to order. “This becomes necessary in view of the fact that the suspected gang leader had during an interview with newsmen in Abuja confessed that “one dismissed police officer Michael Adikwu was the one that comes with ammunitions” and as well exonerated Saraki and Governor Ahmed from the incident.
“We want Buhari and his cohorts to leave Saraki, who had through his numerous empowerment programmes put smiles on the faces of women and their families in the state. Saraki has through his philanthropic gestures saved a lot of women from engaging in street begging and other demeaning vocations. “He had helped many women with money to start their own businesses and facilitated the training of young women’s in vocational skills and kit them upon graduation.
“We want to use this forum to make it clear to the police hierarchy that Saraki is our leader and a law abiding citizen whose passion is to improve the lots of the common man, especially the women folk. “We shall continue to support our leader with prayers as we have no doubt in our minds that this fresh plot against him like the ones before it shall fail woefully.”
Mustapha: My visit to IGP, nothing to do with Saraki
Meanwhile, Mustapha, who was Special Adviser on Special Duties to Saraki before he fell out with the Senate President to pursue his gubernatorial ambition, also noted that the face-off between Saraki and the police is unfortunate and should not have degenerated to the current level. He denied insinuations, now commonplace in the state that he was the brain behind the arrest of some of the ‘Saraki boys’, which happened soon after his visit to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Mustapaha, in a statement he personally signed confirmed his visit to the IGP but denied that it had anything to do with Saraki. While denying his involvement in the controversy, he explained that his recent visit to the IGP had nothing to do with the Saraki issue but for personal reasons.
“I want to state that the accusation is unfounded, baseless, untrue and an attempt to malign my person and that is totally unacceptable. I am a very upright and principled person and it’s not in my nature to bring down others for selfaggrandizement. “The relationship between Saraki and I spanned several years and he is someone I hold in high regard despite the fact that we are presently on different political wavelength. Therefore, I will never do anything to instigate people against him and I am sure he is aware of this fact.
“The Senate president does not have any criminal record that I know of and he never indulged in any criminality throughout the period I worked with him, so, why will I meet with the IG to indict him? I will advise the detractors to count me out of this issue and take caution with the way they politicize a complex security issue such as this. “My visit to the Police Headquarters was to meet some friends who were colleagues during my days in Immigrations on no occasion did we mention the Senate President’s name during our meeting. I am a social networker and I maintain a cordial relationship with everyone across all spectrums but that does not imply that I will use my connection to tarnish someone’s image”.
Saraki divides Offa groups
In another development, a group of indigenes of Offa yesterday rose against leadership of the community for expressing support for Saraki in his travails with the police. The monarch of the town, Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, represented by his Principal Private Secretary, Tajudeen Oloyede, and a high ranking chief of the community, High Chief Bayo Akinola, had cast doubt on the police report that Saraki was implicated in the robbery.
Similarly, the umbrella body of Offa indigenes, Offa Descendants Union (ODU), in a statement by its National President, Najeem Yasin, and National Secretary, Wosilat MacArthy, also expressed support for Saraki whom they described as a great lover of their community. However members of Concerned Citizens of Offa Community condemned both the Olofa-in-Council and the ODU leadership on their position in statement signed by its President, Tunde Yusuf and Secretary, Segun Balogun.
They said they support the manner of police investigation of the robbery attack which they said would lead to getting into the root of the robbery to facilitate bringing of all those who are culpable to book. Also, a political group, Yaman Peace Frontier (YPF), said it supports the police investigation because it followed due process.
The convener of the group, Olawale Gbadeyan, said this while speaking during the inauguration of the group in Ilorin. “All of us in Kwara are behind the Inspector-General of Police. We want him to do a full and thorough investigation and prosecute whoever is found culpable in the Offa robbery incident. We are peace-loving people in Kwara; this recent event is strange to us because we are not thugs and armed robbers”.
He maintained that recent event emphasised the need for Kwara people to be more security conscious and alert at all times while commending Buhari’s decision to award Chief MKO Abiola the country’s highest honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR). According to him, no one in Nigeria will talk about democracy without mentioning Abiola because he sacrificed his life for the sustenance of civil rule. He implored youths not to allow any politician to use them for selfish interests.
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