Posted by By Emma Amaize on
RUNAWAY leader of one of the rampaging cult gangs in Rivers State, Soboma George, has sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) to Ijaw leader, Chief E. K. Clark, from hiding to save him from being killed by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
WARRI — RUNAWAY leader of one of the rampaging cult gangs in Rivers State, Soboma George, has sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) to Ijaw leader, Chief E. K. Clark, from hiding to save him from being killed by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
Soboma initially thought to have been killed when soldiers stormed one of his hide outs in Port Harcourt two weeks ago, says he is now ready to drop his arms and embrace peace.
Chief Clark himself yesterday at a press conference in Warri, yesterday, released the names of top politicians in Rivers State he claimed to be cultists and brains behind the recurring violence in that state.
The Ijaw leader told reporters that George, a former second-in-command to another gang leader, Ateke Tom, who recently renounced cultism, phoned him a day after the invasion of his hideout in Port Harcourt by soldiers to say that he was very much alive and asked for help.
Asked by Vanguard what really transpired between him and Soboma George when the latter phoned him, Clark said: “Soboma George was declared dead on a particular day, and the following morning, my telephone rang…Who was that, Soboma George, I was in Kiagbodo. And what happened, the boy said, I am not dead, I am alive and later the Inspector-General of Police confirmed it.”
Clark said the first thing he asked George was: “Who gave him my (Clark’s) telephone number and he said: ‘You are our father, you are our leader, I am not dead.’ And I now said: can we settle? Can I bring you and Ateke Tom together? He said: ‘Yes sir if you can do that but tell the Federal Government not to shoot us again.’
“He said they (soldiers) came to their village where they were hiding to shoot all of them and he told me how the hotel where he was staying was bombarded. So, I told him, you are a small boy, what are you gaining? I hear you and…Then, he told me the story. That Ateke Tom thought that he had a hand, and is benefitting from the mega-station and that was how it was bombed.
“I said well, I am going to bring the two of you together. Please don’t fight again, I will tell the Federal Government not to…and I have spoken to Ateke Tom. So I am in contact with them. I have spoken to Farah’s boys. I have spoken to most of them. I have spoken to Alele Horsfall. I have been in contact with these boys in the interest of peace. What will be my interest to organise these boys to go and fight people? What am I looking for? I have a duty to bring peace and the boys who are dying are our boys,” he said.
Chief Clark said since 1999 Rivers State has known no peace, adding: “Recently, Prince Igodo, one of the boys was killed in Tombia. Did you not hear that? That is part of this fight which is going on. These people are behind the whole thing. It is a very dangerous situation. The peace may go down today, tomorrow, it will come again. So, that is why we are asking for a new person to come and probe the place.”
He dismissed insinuations that the Ijaw elders were not in touch with the boys and were just grandstanding with their statement on the Rivers crisis, saying: “You can see that we are in touch with these boys, advising them to make sure that nobody uses them to cause crisis in the state.”
Tthe former Federal Commissioner for Information also threw more light yesterday on his call last week with some of the Niger Delta leaders for emergency rule in Rivers State. Besides, he released the names of government officials who he alleged are the financiers, patrons, mentors, sponsors and godfathers of some of the over 103 cult groups in the state.
He said the Niger Delta leaders actually wanted to submit the names of the cultists directly to President Umaru Yar’Adua but they “reluctantly decided to disclose some of the information we were holding back and which may cause a lot of embarrassment to the Rivers State politicians who have no conscience and who are masquerading themselves as innocent men after their attention was drawn to some comments of prominent Nigerians in the Saturday Vanguard of August 25, 2007 at page 5.”
Clark names suspected cultists
According to the 12-page address, entitled: “Who are the cultists in Rivers State — Why Celestine Omehia should step down for peace and stability to be restored in Rivers State,” jointly signed by Chief Clark and secretary of the Forum, Dr. M.P. Okonny, a list of 16 People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sponsors in the state was submitted by the State Security Service (SSS) to the party before the 2007 elections as cultists. A former top government official in the state was also named as the originator of the cult groups.
Vanguard, however, cannot publish the names on legal ground. But on the list are a former top official of the state Assembly, a former minister, a contender to a first class stool in the state, former federal and state legislators, and a serving commissioner.
Also on the list are some serving federal/state legislators and another top official of the state government, who he alleged was “a declared cultist in the university. He was rusticated, that is why he did not finish from the university.
“The above submitted list by the SSS has never been refuted by any of the persons listed since the publication.”
He said although Governor Celestine Omehia may not be a cultist, he is surrounded by cultists and that a former official of the state government was responsible for the introduction of armed youths into the body polity of the state. “The evidence is there and the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is aware,” he claimed, adding: “Both Ateke Tom of Okirika and Soboma George of Kalabari accused each other of being sponsored by the Rivers State government. Ateke Tom accused Soboma George of having a contract from Rivers State government to renovate the Civic Centre in Port-Harcourt and that one of them has a ‘pump’ in the mega station and hence the opposing camp attacked and destroyed it. It is open knowledge that Asari-Dokubo, Ateke Tom, Soboma George, Phillip and Farah Dagogo have been financed by government at one time or the other.”
Ijaw elders insist on emergency rule
The elders, however, stated for the avoidance of doubt: “We are not against Omehia as a person or are we interested on how he became the Governor of Rivers State. What we are saying is, he is a victim or child of circumstance. He is therefore, part of the problems of Rivers State and they have all admitted he could not handle the one between Asari Dokubo and Ateke Tom in 2004.”
Explaining that Chief Clark in his capacity as national leader of the Ijaw nation and leader of the South-South zone negotiated in the past with the Federal Government, the release of Asari-Dokubo, leader of the Niger-Delta People’s Volunteers Force, as well as meeting and discussing severally with Odili when he was the governor of Rivers State on how to restore peace to the state, the elders said it was amusing for Omehia or anybody in his government to refer to him and other Ijaw elders as interlopers in the affairs of the state.
According to them, “there is a complete and total emergency in operation in Port Harcourt as at today and the only lacking ingredient is that the government in place in the state that has admitted her inability to cope with the ensuing militancy and cultism still operates in the state at the seat of governance. It is therefore, the lawmakers and Governor Omehia that are short-sighted, selfish and lack focus because all that they are doing is to perpetuate the status quo…
“We observe that presently, the elements for a state of emergency are already in place in Rivers State but the only thing missing is the appointment of a neutral, powerful and impartial administrator to ensure speedy recovery of real and lasting peace in Rivers State. The presence of Omehia cannot bring that expected peace and stability because Omehia is part and parcel of the problems of the Rivers State… As the lawmakers said in their statement, the cultists are fighting to gain supremacy of control in Rivers State.
“The fighting boys are on the payroll of each of these groups and in fact, some of the leading fighters are security details of top politicians and some of them have contracts which they are executing on behalf of the Rivers State government. How can it be said by any sane person that these political leaders are capable of bringing the desired peace and stability to Rivers State? Therefore, the people of Rivers State do not think that the state will be safe in the hands of Governor Omehia and fellow political grandeurs.”
They insisted that there was no way the present crop of political leaders in Rivers State would be able to resolve the problems of the state and since humanity abhors anyone being a judge in his own matter, it was right and proper that a third party comes in to deal a decisive blow to the monsters, which is the political class that has armed the criminal youths that carry out the attacks that have devastated Port Harcourt in the past weeks.
The Ijaw elders said it was because of corruption and vested interest that the PDP leadership in Abuja failed to take any action in the past against these politicians who have found themselves in government and corridors of power, saying: “And that is what brought us to the terrible armed conflicts amongst the cultists in Rivers state today.
“Once again, we repeat our call on Mr. President to take a decisive action by declaring a ‘state of emergency’ in Rivers State and appoint an administrator from outside the Niger Delta of not lower than a retired General or its equivalent to control the irredeemable breakdown of law and order in Rivers State. We are not against Omehia of ruling Rivers State. Our concern now is the security of the state. Thereafter, he can take over after six months as it was in Plateau State.
“Omehia is strongly advised to subsume his personal ambition to the general wish of the state and no amount of insult of the Ijaw elders and leaders will deter them from telling the truth and telling Mr. President to take appropriate action… We repeat , the declaration of state of emergency is the only answer to the complicated problems in Rivers State, which will flush out once and for all the criminals, monsters and cultists in Rivers State,” the elders said.
Rivers Patriots differ with elders
Meanwhile, the Committee of Rivers Patriots, reacting yesterday to Chief Clark’s statement defended the state government and said “this committee is aware of Chief Edwin Clark’s news conference in Warri this morning (yesterday) and wishes to state the following:
“We have since advised the government of Rivers State not to join issues with Chief Edwin Clark and his clique any more, as doing so would definitely amount to distracting itself. We insist that our governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, should remain focussed and continue with his five-point agenda, otherwise known as SHIRE social contract, for the people of Rivers State.
“We are happy that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Umaru Yar’Adua appreciates the problems in our state, and recognises the capacity of Sir Omehia to respond to it appropriately.
“Our group, Committee of Rivers Patriots, commends the Service Chiefs for their quick intervention in response to the call by His Excellency, Sir Celestine Omehia, as they recognised the fact that the internal security of the country and its component parts, is purely the responsibility of the Federal Government. We applaud the stand of Rivers Elders and other well-meaning bodies in the state, for their support and understanding.
“Finally, we wish to advise Chief Clark and his diminishing crowd to find other ways of keeping themselves busy, and stop the habit of making inflammable statements that do not help the course of peace, order and development.”
The statement was signed by Tamuno Tonye-Princewill.
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