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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Osun Election Protest: Police lied against us –-Saraki

Osun Election Protest: Police lied against us –-Saraki

Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki

*Says police invitation, targeted at legislature

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki yesterday accused the Nigeria Police of peddling falsehood over Friday’s peaceful protest by the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the conduct of the recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states.

In a bid to exercise their constitutional right of assembly, expression and movement, leaders of the PDP staged a peaceful procession from the party’s campaign office on Ibrahim Babangida Way to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Police Headquarters, Abuja.

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The procession was made up of the Senate President, the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, presidential aspirants, members of the National Assembly, governors of Ekiti, Sokoto, Taraba and Gombe states. The protest march went smoothly until, they approached the Louis Edet House (Police Headquarters) where they were denied entry by police personnel who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Hours later, the police authorities had singled out three senators, namely Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Murray-Bruce and accused them of involvement “in the disturbance of public safety, unlawful blockade of Shehu Shagari Way.

The police also accused the lawmakers of indulging in violent attack on policemen posted to ensure security of Force Headquarters, pushing and hitting the policemen to forcefully enter the Force Headquarters to cause damage to police equipment and properties”.

But Saraki has denied all the accusations describing them as laughable, crude and another low point in the posture of the police against the opposition in the country.

In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President said the procession was not meant to cause a breach of peace and did not witness any act of violence except the unprovoked attack on them by the police.

“The purpose was to express the opposition of the PDP to the manner in which the electoral body and the security agencies had been colluding with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate election results and subvert the will of the people, as evidenced by the conduct of the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states.

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.

“At the INEC secretariat, the procession spent over 40 minutes where the various leaders addressed the crowd in the presence of two National Commissioners of INEC, including the one in charge of legal matters, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu. The two INEC Commissioners equally responded to the complaints raised by the PDP leaders. It was a civilised, frank and enlightened exchange, devoid of any rancour.

“The procession then headed towards the Police Headquarters while being hailed on the streets by ordinary Nigerians who came out to cheer the leaders standing in an open van. From the Eagles Square end, the procession was on the other side of the road going to Police Headquarters.

The procession did not even get to the point where it will turn to the side where the Police Force Headquarters is located when the police rained tear gas on the people. They deliberately targeted the open vans in which the Senate President and other VIPs were standing.

“The procession quickly diverted to the Area 11 Junction leading to FCDA. The diversion was done to avoid a repeat of the 2003 event in which a similar tear-gassing event led to the death of a former Senate President, Senator Chuba Okadigbo.

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