Okuama: Clark Laments Army Invasion of His Country Home in Kiagbodo and Father’s Ughelli House

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

Elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, has lamented the unprovoked invasion of his country home in Kiagbodo and his father’s home in Ughelli, both in Delta State.

Clark, who raised the alarm at a Press Conference at his Abuja residence, said the soldiers forcefully broke into the two residential buildings allegedly in search of fleeing perpetrators of the Okuama massacre where senior and junior military personnel were gruesomely murdered recently.

He demanded the establishment of a commission of enquiry to probe the entire incidence.

Clark wondered why the Delta State Government was not being carried along in the military operation in the area, claiming that the attacks on his country homes would have been averted if the state government was part of the exercise.

He said, “A strong commission of enquiry should be set up by the Delta State Government to find out, who are the real perpetrators of the heinous crime.”

The septuagenarian narrated how the destructive attacks were carried out on his home and that of his father.

“At about 6pm on Saturday, 23rd March, 2024, I got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as the commanding officer in the Nigerian Army, Division in Port Harcourt.

“He (the Army officer) said that a tracker of the Nigerian Army, had tracked one Mr. Vote, the community chairman of Okuama Community, whom the Army was looking for in respect of the killings of the 17 men of the Nigerian Army, to a house in Ughelli.

“He (the commanding officer) said he and the military men had broken into the house, ransacked it, before they were informed that the house belongs to me, that he was very sorry and apologising to me on behalf of the Army.

“In my usual way and as a leader who is expected to condone as much as possible, I accepted his apology wholeheartedly, but told him that I do not own a house in Ughelli, that the house he is referring to, could be my father’s.

“I went on to sympathise with the Nigerian Army over the gruesome murder of the soldiers, an action I had condemned severally the moment I heard of it in the news.

“I assured him that we will all work within our powers to avail the security agencies with any available information that would unravel the whole thing and bring the perpetrators to book.

“We ended the discussion on a cordial note. It was not long after that, I was inundated with calls from my home, Kiagbodo, telling me how the army had invaded my country home by land and by air.

“That they came in about five trucks loaded with armed soldiers numbering between 30 and 40. They broke my house, used their legs to break open all the doors in the compound including the security door to my sitting room which was locked because I reside in Abuja.

“At the same time, flying their drone within the premises. Some of them went to the buildings behind the main house, and also broke all the doors that were locked. They matched out my staff living in those buildings, including lecturers at the university; made them to sit on bare ground.

“They also broke into my late brother, Ambassador Akporode Blessing Clark’s house, a man who served this country internationally in various capacities, including as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as both of us share the same premises.

“They brought out his son almost naked, as the young man was taking a bath, when they stormed the house.

“All their phones were seized. The people had to identify themselves, and told them whose house it was, before they asked for my telephone number, which they said they will pass to their ‘oga’, before they all departed.

“One would have expected that at this juncture, a call could have been put to the Governor of Delta State, to inform him of what happened.

“I immediately called back the commanding officer to tell him of the actions of his men. And he said he was aware, and that was why he called to apologise.

“Before continuing, let me play the devil’s advocate by stating that the army may not know that the house they went to in Kiagbodo is my country home.

“However, I feel very uncomfortable to conclude this recent incident with such theory, when I recall how men of the Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Office of the Inspector General of Police, on 4th September, 2018, at about 12 noon, stormed my house in Abuja in a bus load, fully armed.

“They came with a Search Warrant from a Magistrate Court in Abuja, bearing Mrs. Helen Clark, but with the address of my house on it, that they had come to search the house; that they had information that arms from the Niger Delta were being stock piled there.

“I identified myself, and told them that there was no one named Helen Clark, living with me in the house. I spoke with the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations. But they insisted on carrying out their search.

“With a very clear conscience, I allowed them to go ahead with their mission. They took their time to search every space in the compound, including my bedroom, but found nothing incriminating.

“They wrote their report to that effect. I asked to be given a copy of the report, but the men who came for the search informed me that a copy can only be given to me if I went to their office.

“I detailed two persons to accompany them to their office, but they refused to give them the copy. I was told that I had to apply formally. I asked my lawyer to apply, which he did, till date, I do not have a copy of that report.”

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