ILORIN SALLAH TRAGEDY: Cover-Up As Police Order DPO To Hands Off Probe Of Saraki Stampede Deaths

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A plot to cover up Wednesday’s multiple deaths in Ilorin involving Senator Bukola Saraki and officials of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party is now apace as the police high command has ordered the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the jurisdiction, where the incident occurred, to hands off the case.

About a dozen people, said to be members of the Kwara PDP, died on Sallah day as they scrambled for handouts distributed by former Governor Saraki and other patrons within the party.

Sources within the Kwara state Police Command said after the incident, the DPO in charge of the police division in the area dispatched detectives to the area to investigative the matter.

But as soon as the detectives began work, our sources said, the DPO received an order from the police zone 8 command headquarters in Lokoja directing him to suspend investigation and immediately forward the case file to the zonal command in the Kogi state capital.

The DPO complied and the investigation into the matter has been suspended. The zonal command is yet to send in a fresh team of investigators to probe the death of hapless citizens who died while trying to outsmart one another as Mr. Saraki and other party leaders distributed the yearly Sallah gifts.

“They are trying to cover up the deaths,” one of our sources said. “Those involved are pressing buttons and trying to frustrate any investigation into the incident.”

When contacted, spokesperson for the Kwara Police Command, Fabode Olufemi, confirmed that the zonal command had taken over the case.

“I can’t tell you anything about the case because the case file is already at the zonal command in Lokoja,” Mr. Olufemi told PREMIUM TIMES. “Only zone 8 can provide you an update on the case.”

The spokesperson for the Zone 8 command, Emmanuel Udekwe, wouldn’t comment on the case when contacted by this newspaper.

“I’m not sure of the case you are talking about,” he said before terminating the call and switching off his mobile telephone.

In what has almost become a yearly routine, more than a dozen people died while several others were injured in the incident which occurred at a venue popularly called PDP Charity House, which is near Mr. Saraki’s Ilorin residence.

In a statement emailed to PREMIUM TIMES that night, the Publicity Secretary of Kwara PDP, Mas’ud Adebimpe, confirmed the incident and commiserated with the families of the victims.

He, however, confirmed the death of only four PDP members, saying many others were injured.

After the incident, there were loud calls for a thorough investigation by those who felt the yearly deaths, in similar circumstances, were more than ordinary.

“Charity, even when politically motivated, can be better organized,” public affairs analyst, Abdulateeph Adebayo, said. “This contempt for people and disregard for the sanctity of human life must stop. The media, law enforcement agencies and community leaders must help put a stop to this fetish evil carnage.”

The yearly sallah gifts distribution by the Saraki’s and the party have of late led to multiple deaths.

On May 27, 2011, several people died at the Mandate House, Ilorin, as they scrambled for rice and other items.

At least 11 others died in a similar fashion in November 2010, but only four deaths were also confirmed by the Kwara government at the time.

While Mr. Saraki and the state PDP routinely issue condolence messages after each incident, there is no indication that the tragedies were thoroughly probed by the police or any other relevant agency of government.

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