• State govt describes allegation as irresponsible scaremongering
• Saraki says he won’t condone aide breaking the law
Ernest Chinwo in Port and Harcourt Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Department of State Services (DSS) said yesterday that it had uncovered a sinister plot by the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike to disrupt governance in strategic federal government agencies by provoking a violent breach of peace in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, yesterday and beyond, especially during the yuletide season.
To achieve this, the DSS alleged that the Rivers governor secured the services of one Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, a personal aide to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to mobilise some hoodlums to execute their plan.
But in a swift reaction, the River State Government described the allegation by the DSS as “irresponsible scaremongering” by an agency that seems bent on a mission to blackmail Wike and bring the state government to disrepute.
Also, Saraki, in a statement last night said though the DSS had not officially informed him of the allegations against Ikenga, he made it clear that he will never condone any action by any of his aides, which threatens the peace of the country or is against the provisions of the law.
The statement said: “Dr. Saraki hereby calls on the DSS to properly investigate the allegations against Mr. Ikenga and if he is found to have acted against the law, then the law should take its natural course.”
The DSS, through a statement issued by one its officials, Mr. Tony Opuiyo, said the aim of the protest was to cause mayhem, “a complete breakdown of law and order and cast the security agencies and the federal government in a bad light”.
“It is also intended to divert public and international attention from the ongoing police investigation into the unwholesome role played by the governor and some of his cronies in the violence that trailed the rerun elections in Rivers State which resulted in the gruesome murder of civilians including the beheading of DSP Mohammed Alkali and some of his colleagues as well as the brutalisation of INEC staff who failed to do the bidding of the governor.
“In furtherance of this plot, protesters are to besiege the National Human Rights Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, National Assembly, the Nigerian Army and Police Headquarters as well as British High Commission, US Embassy and the UN Secretariat, Abuja; all in an effort to raise a false alarm that Rivers State was under the siege of security agencies during the elections.
“While the obvious aim is to draw public sympathy and international attention to the spurious allegations of the involvement of federal agencies in violence during the last elections in Rivers State, the actual objective is really to trigger a round of violent action against the government and create opportunity for idlers to join the deceitful protest.
“Part of the orchestration is to provoke the security agencies and prompt them to take action against the protesters that could result in bloodletting.
“It is in this line that Ikenga had gone to the outskirts of Abuja to mobilise unemployed youths to carry out his bidding. All this was to be done for a fee and resources to be provided from the treasury of the Rivers State Government,” DSS alleged.
It expressed concern that Saraki’s aide would engage in this nefarious plot when, “after his last arrest earlier this year by the DSS, he had pledged to be law abiding and not to cause a breach of the peace”.
It revealed that though Ikenga was at large, the trio of Emeka Idibia, Ugo Apuamagha and Ejike Nwachukwu had been arrested and were helping with further investigations.
“These men were picked up at the mobilisation venue trying to perfect the logistics for this unholy enterprise. The young men were hired by Ikenga to take custody of items and materials for the planned violent protest.
“The recovered items included banners, placards and posters with denigrating, inciting and hate inscriptions meant to impinge the authority of the federal government and further subvert the entire machinery of governance in the country.
“In order to make this look credible, Ikenga and his cohorts had adopted such groups as Lawyers in Defence of Democracy (LDD) and Citizens for Good Governance (CGG) as cover to supposedly make them look like serious minded civil rights groups and thus bring them into collision course with security agencies.
“Investigations have so far revealed that while Ikenga is the field organiser and coordinator of the planned protest, with Governor Wike as his sole financial sponsor,” the DSS said.
The security agency added that it was disturbed that the Rivers governor who is the chief security officer of his state would stoop so low to hire thugs and hoodlums to attack the FCT and create an atmosphere of chaos and disorder during the yuletide season.
It stated that the DSS and other security agencies will neither be cowed, nor by any means allow any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, to subvert Nigeria’s statutory institutions meant to protect critical installations and law-abiding citizens.
“In this regard, the DSS also states in unequivocal terms that no amount of intimidation, grandstanding or outright manipulation of facts will be allowed to stop it and other agencies from conducting their duties as constitutionally mandated or concluding investigations into the Rivers State electoral violence.
“Finally, the Service wishes to restate its commitment to the protection of lives and property in the FCT in particular and Nigeria in general. Consequently, it advises youths to resist the temptation of being lured by desperate politicians to undermine the government or engage in acts capable of causing a breakdown of law and order,” it stated
The DSS called on all Abuja residents to go about their normal duties, adding that it was committed to ensuring that the full wrath of the law is brought against persons or group of persons who may threaten the peace and stability of the country.
However, the Rivers State Government described the allegation by the DSS as “irresponsible scaremongering” by an agency that seems bent on a mission to blackmail the governor and bring the state government to disrepute.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, said: “Governor Wike is a man of peace and would never orchestrate disturbances in any part of the country.
“A few days ago, the Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) sponsored street protests against Governor Wike in Abuja, without any alarm raised by the DSS.
“Why is the DSS ringing its hypocritical alarm bells against Governor Wike only now?
“Why has the DSS not yet provided evidence of the so-called billions of cash they alleged was taken away by Governor Wike from the home of the high court judge the agency invaded in Port Harcourt some months ago? In its blind partisanship, the DSS has lost all credibility.
“The Rivers State Government challenges the DSS to leave Governor Wike alone and instead focus its operational attention on the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed over 70,000 people and displaced 6 million Nigerians in the past six years.
“The government and people of Rivers State will never succumb to cheap blackmail by neither by the DSS, nor any federal agency by whatever name,” the state government said.
Wike earlier yesterday had vowed to ensure that people of the state were not forced to become second class citizens in Nigeria.
This came as the governor also inaugurated a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the killings and violence in the last rerun elections in the state, stressing that those involved would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt after receiving a letter of nomination as “Governor of the Year” of Authority Newspaper, Wike described as contradictory whereby politicians from states that depend on Rivers oil resources for survival insist that its people should be second class citizens in Nigeria.
The governor maintained that Nigeria belongs to everyone, noting that on no account should any section of the country be made to feel inferior.
He said: “I believe that this country belongs to all of us. I believe that nobody should be made a second class citizen of this country.
“I come from a state that by the special grace of God produces the wealth of the nation. So, even those who depend on the oil money to survive are allowed to speak. Why would somebody that produces that wealth, not speak?”
The governor maintained that all the people of Rivers State had demanded was for democracy to triumph.
He wondered why the leadership of the APC refused to accept that they cannot not win in all states, when former President Goodluck Jonathan willingly conceded defeat.
He said: “This is a government that came to power on the platform of change. We have offered ourselves to help them achieve change, instead of them to commend us, they want to eliminate us.
“I have told people who care to know, you rig elections where you are popular. When you rig elections where you are not popular, it leads to violence.”
He stated that the police are investigating the “concocted audio as a means of justifying their failure to deliver to their paymasters, despite the funds allocated to them to subvert the will of the Rivers people”.
“They are justifying the money they spent simply to retire the money. They couldn’t deliver, so they are looking for ways to justify the money given to them,” he alleged.
He said if the police authorities were serious about investigations, they would have been investigating the APC governors who threatened violence in Hausa and Yoruba languages at the Yakubu Gowon stadium during the party’s rally before the rerun polls.
He added that the rally, which was televised, live also had the APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, threatening violence on Rivers people.
Commenting on the award of Governor of the Year by the management of Authority Newspaper, Wike said it would spur him to work harder.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Authority Newspaper, Mr. Madu Onuorah, said the governor was nominated because of his exploits in politics and infrastructure development.
Wike also vowed that those involved in the killings and violence that characterised the December 10 rerun legislative elections in the state would face the full weight of the law.
Speaking yesterday while inaugurating the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the killings and violence that rocked the elections, Wike charged the commission to find out the number of those killed and those responsible for their deaths.
He also charged the commission to ascertain the names of persons killed.
The governor stated that it was not within the purview of the commission to investigate how the elections were conducted.
He said: “This Judicial Commission of Inquiry is not to investigate how they conducted their elections. You are to investigate the murders that attended the elections.
“Those involved in the killings will face the full weight of the law. This government has the capacity to follow through.”
He called on members of the commission to stand by the truth and be courageous in the discharge of their assignment.
Responding, the chairman of the commission, Justice Chinwendu Nwogu, said the commission would discharge its assignment within the confines of the law.