Senate Leader Teslim Folarin was whisked to the Agodi Prisons in Ibadan yesterday. He was ordered remanded by Chief Magistrate Fatima Baderu.
Folarin was arraigned on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder of the former factional leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Lateef Salako (a.k.a Eleweomo).
The late Salako, a staunch supporter of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, was murdered during the PDP local government congress in Ona Ara Local Governmment on December 31, last year.
Folarin’s journey to custody started on Monday when he went to the Police Headquarters at Eleyele to honour the invitation of Police Commissioner Adisa Bola Bolanta as part of investigations into the late Salako’s murder.
The Senate Leader was taken to the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID) office at Iyaganku after preliminary talks with Bolanta and his men at the CP’s office.
Folarin was accompanied by leaders of the anti-Akala Coalition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Senator Lekan Balogun. They stayed back with Folarin at the office of Assistant Commissioner of Police (SCID) Mrs Mary Egbeyemi where they passed the night. They were also in court with him yesterday.
As Folarin was being led away, PDP chieftain and one-time governorship aspirant Chief Yekini Adeojo and others wept.
The court premises was throbbing with hundreds of Supporters. Among them was House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Appropriation Ayo Adeseun and former Minister of Power Elder Wole Oyelese.
No fewer than 50 policemen and State Security Service (SSS) personnel were drafted to the court premises to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
The Senate Leader’s army of supporters seized took to the adjoining streets, singing anti- Alao-Akala songs as they protested Folarin’s arraignment. The road leading to NTC and Seventh Day Adventist Church was rendered impassable to motorists, blocked by the protesters.
Folarin was arraigned along with three other persons: Ramoni Jaiyeola Bankole, Olaide Raji and Ismaila. They were brought to the court around 10.45 am in Folarin’s Peugeot 406 saloon car, amid tight security.
The security agents had a hectic time controlling the human and vehicular traffic.
Immediately Chief Magistrate Fatima Baderu saw the lawyers and their clients, she adjourned the case before her. She returned seven minutes later to take the case preferred against Folarin and the others.
Immediate past President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu and 14 other lawyers appeared for Folarin.
Akeredolu said the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case. He said the charge preferred against the accused persons “is not within the jurisdiction of your court”.
According to him, the only charge that can be taken before the court can at best be for a holden charge and not murder.
He pleaded that his clients be remanded in prison custody pending the transfer of the case to the High Court.
After the charge was read, no plea was taken as directed by the Chief Magistrate, who adjourned the case till January 14.
The Senate Leader was taken away around noon in a Hilux/van belonging to the Prison authorities. His supporters were in tears.
Akeredolu told reporters after the court session that there was no way he could have stopped Folarin’s appearance at the Chief Magistrate’s Court.
“We do not want any uproar and argument now; that was why we agreed that he should be brought to the Magistrate’s Court.”
Akeredolu said he would approach the High Court to secure bail for Folarin and the others.
Balogun blamed Folarin for reporting to the Police Headquarters on Monday – a public holiday.
He insisted that the Commissioner of Police should be transferred, claiming that he “is a strong supporter of Governor Alao-Akala”.
Balogun said the anti-Akala coalition would hold a rally on January 15 to push for the removal of the Commissioner of Police.