Senate President Bukola Saraki has denied claims by the police that he was among those who fomented violence during a protest at the INEC headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
Saraki was reacting to a police invitation that the Senate President, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and Senator Dino should report to the force headquarters for questioning over the protest.
Making known their dissatisfaction with the September 22 Osun state governorship election, the PDP leadership staged the protest, which the police said was violent and as such invited those they said were caught on camera fomenting violence.
But Saraki said police made various forms of spurious, unfounded and false claims about the protest in which they singled out the three of them.
According to a statement, Saraki said: “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 targetted the open vans in which the Senate President and other VIPs were standing.
He continued: “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.
“Let it be known that the hostile, brutal, needles, tactless and uncivil response of the Police under the present leadership of Mr Ibrahim Kpotum Idris to the peaceful, lawful and justified procession was in contrast to how the same police responded to a similar protest by the opposition in 2014,” read the statement in part.