The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the claim by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, that he donated N10 million to victims of the April 5 robbery in Offa “is patently false.’’
In a statement issued on Monday in Lagos, the minister admonished the Senate President “to stop dancing on the graves of the innocent souls” who died in the bloody robbery attack in Offa.
The statement signed Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Special Adviser to the Minister was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
“He did not! The N10 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,’’ he said.
In swift response yesterday Yusuph Olaniyonu the Special Adviser on Media & Publicity to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has described Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as an unrestrained and compulsive perjurer, whose name has become synonymous with misinformation and untruths.
Responding to Mohammed’s claim that during a radio interview in Kwara on Christmas day, Dr. Saraki, had trivialized the Offa robbery, which claimed the lives of 33 Nigerians, by saying that he had donated N10million to the Offa monarch as compensation for victims, Olaniyonu stated that those who are trying to implicate the Senate President in the Offa robbery affair by all means, are so fixated on that mission that they are messing up with the due process that would give justice to the victims, both dead and alive, and closure to their families.
“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.”
But the Lai Mohammed reiterated his earlier warning against playing politics with the unfortunate incident.
He alleged that Saraki had said in a radio interview that he donated the N10 million when he visited Offa to commiserate with the people in the aftermath of the robbery.
Mohammed added that the Senate president in the interview also said that the N10 million he donated was more than thae N7 million that was stolen from the robbed banks’ vaults.
“The overly aggressive and crude response by Dr Saraki to that warning has shown that he is not ready to heed the admonition, hence the need to re-state it, and to condemn any attempt to denominate human lives in Naira and Kobo,” he said.
The minister said that 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.
Mohammed further said, “Instead of stopping at that, which in itself constitutes 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. But with politics in the air, the truth becomes the first casualty.
“Realising that he goofed, Dr Saraki 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?”
He said he would continue to steer the debate on the political developments in Kwara to issues rather than an exchange of personal insults which he had 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).
“They will soon have the opportunity to express their frustration with their votes,” the minister said. (NAN)