The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has described as false and misleading, insinuations linking him and Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki with the suspected cultists arrested in Ilorin, the state capital and transferred by the police to Abuja.
Governor Ahmed, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Muyideen Akorede, said neither him nor the Senate President or any of their aides had links with the suspected cultists or their alleged activities.
He also denied any knowledge of or any intention to harm any individual as the political leadership in the state “has never used violence as a political tool”.
Mr Saraki had on Wednesday released a statement accusing the police Inspector General, Ibrahim Idris, of attempting to link him with the activities of the suspects recently nabbed by the police and brought to Abuja.
He said Mr Idris was seeking revenge after the Senate declared him unfit to hold public office in Nigeria or elsewhere.
Police confirmed the suspects had been transfered, but warned Mr Saraki against jeopardising ongoing investigations.
The Senate set up a committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to inform him of the allegations and also brief him on the Senate’s rift with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris.
Mr Idris’ rift with the lawmakers deepened recently when he refused to attend summons by them on three occasions. The irate lawmakers in reaction passed a vote of no confidence on the IGP.
The Kwara governor referred the public to the parade of the suspects by the state commissioner of police, Aminu Pai Saleh, on May 10, in Ilorin, during which he announced that the suspects were arrested for alleged murder and membership of cult groups but made no mention of any confessional statement linking their activities to any sponsors.
Governor Ahmed described the alleged killings as the outcome of clashes between rival cults in the state as most victims had been identified by security agencies as members of cult groups.
Governor Ahmed said the growing problem of cultism and cult-related criminalities formed the basis of his charge to the new Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr Saleh, to focus on ending the menace on his resumption last month.
According to him, the state government sees cultism as a serious security issue requiring urgent attention and has accordingly amended the State Cultism Law to prescribe stiffer penalties for convicts and those who aid and abet them.
He said this is besides providing operational support to all security agencies in the state in their fight against all forms of criminalities, including cultism.
Governor Ahmed warned that cultism is a serious security challenge which should neither be trivialised and turned into a political tool nor be treated with levity.
He urged well-meaning Nigerians to disregard any attempt to politicise the menace of cultism but focus instead on joining hands with the government and security agencies to bring the menace to an end in the interest of public safety while allowing the rule of law and justice to prevail in the matter.