By Martins Ifijeh
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has said he has forgiven the security agents who invaded his house over alleged stockpiling of firearms.
He told Senator Shehu Sani who visited him in Abuja yesterday that he decided to forgive them in the interest of peace and the fact that the police had apologised.
“I have forgotten all since the Inspector General has apologised to me through a very powerful delegation; I have forgiven them in the interest of Nigeria,” Clark said.
“If I do not, there are people who are very willing to cause trouble and I do not want that to be done in my name. I have also appealed to my youths, my children at home who gathered at Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, who were very upset to be peaceful.”
Some policemen on September 4, searched Clark’s house for alleged firearms.
Clark added that the incident was aimed at discrediting the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
He said: “Coming to search my house was not a problem, but if it was not properly planned, or with an intention, just to embarrass me and the government then there is a concern.
“Whatever you do, if it fails, it affects the government of President Buhari, if it succeeds perhaps it will go on.”
He said it was unthinkable for him at his age and consistent call for peace, to stockpile arms.
He further said it would be unfair and unreasonable to think that a 91-year old man, who had been fighting for peace in the country and had directed youths to lay down arms, to stockpile arms.
“So, today at 91, I should be gathering arms in my house?” he wondered.
The elder statesman said he had written the president, requesting a full investigation into the incident and those behind it, and not to make those that searched his house scapegoats.
Earlier, Sani said he was in the house to express concern over the incidence.
“I am pleased that the police have taken action. I will call on you as a father to accept the apology of the police and also to do everything possible to work and express your opinion so that advantage should not be taken on this issue.
“You are not an elder statesman for a section of the country. You have fought for the peace and unity of this country.
“You are a repository of history of this country; you know what happened yesterday you know what is happening today and we will still need you for the future of this country,” Sani said.
The lawmaker cautioned security agents, who in as much as they needed whistle blowers and informants; to be careful with the information they worked with.
He further warned that false information and whistle blowing could be sources of instability and crisis in the country.
“Intelligence agencies and security agencies must do a background check on people who provide information to them so as not to rubbish their image and that of the government.
“I am of the firm believe that as a father, you will take this as simply an act that was done without the full intention of the person in the position of power in Nigeria.
“But I know very well that the need for probe is important so that we do not simply make scapegoats of very few people while those behind it are somewhere in the dark.
“Your case should be the beginning of an end on the use of false whistle blowers and false informants to intimidate, harass and rubbish the reputation of innocent Nigerians.
“You have paid the price for the peace and unity of this country and that should be appreciated.
“I have no doubt that it was an intention to rubbish the name of Buhari’s government by this act and to set him against the people who respect him,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group known as Ijaw Solidarity Forum (ISF) has described the raids on the residences of Ijaw leader, Clark and former presidential aide, Kingsley Kuku, as a deliberate ethic target.
In a statement signed by the group’s Coordinator, Borowei Peretei, and made available to newsmen in Arogbo, Ondo State, it frowned at the raid conducted by police operatives on the Asokoro, Abuja residence of elder statesman and the leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark on September 4, 2018.
He described the raid as a deliberate ethnic target aimed at embarrassing and silencing opposition voices ahead of 2019 election.
The statement read, “The move is a clearly premeditated political attempt and a tacit ploy to intimidate the opposition ahead of the 2019 general election.”
Peretei said nothing could have offended the people of Ijaw ethnic tribe more than the reckless conduct of the police, all in the name of searching for non-existing arms and ammunition in the homes of their illustrious sons.
The statement further read, “No bigger insult could have been meted out to the people of Ijaw ethnic tribe by the police than the raid on the residence of a 91 year old foremost Ijaw son.
Peretei said, “We cannot fathom what a man of Chief Clark’s age would be doing with weapons which as a matter of fact only exist in the imagination of the police. And more offending to our collective sensibilities was the fact that there was no trace of any arm or ammunition in the elder statesman’s residence at the end of the unjustifiable search”.
Peretei also lamented an earlier raid of similar nature that was premised on the same lame excuse of searching for illegal arms which was carried out in the Arogbo – Ijaw of Kingsley Kuku.
He said, “It will be recalled that a similar raid was carried out by a team of police detachment on the instruction of Police Inspector General at the Arogbo-Ijaw residence of Kuku. Some relations of the former Presidential Amnesty Coordinator were manhandled while some properties were either destroyed or badly handled during the course of this raid. At the end, there was no trace of any arm or ammunition in the residence.”
The group said that they refused to believe that these chain of illegal events were mere coincidences. Rather, the group was of the opinion that the Ibrahim Idris was merely unveiling a dress rehearsal of planned police harassments and intimidation to be unleashed on the opposition voices in 2019.
Meanwhile, Peretei said that notwithstanding Ibrahim Idris denial that he had no fore-knowledge of the raid on Clark’s residence and his panicky reaction which already led to the dismissal of three police Inspectors; President Buhari was urged to query Idris for his incessant provocative excesses.
The group however warned that any further police harassment targeted on any son or daughter of Ijaw ethnic tribe could derail the prevailing peace being enjoy in the Niger Delta region of the country.