Posted by From John Iwori in Yenagoa on
Anxiety reigned in Yenagoa, the sleepy state capital of Bayelsa State following the arrest Thursday in London of the state governor Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of money laundering.
Anxiety reigned in Yenagoa, the sleepy state capital of Bayelsa State following the arrest Thursday in London of the state governor Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of money laundering. People gather in clusters to discuss the ordeal while top government officials were not willing to make public statements on the matter.
However, residents were observed going about their normal businesses with offices, markets and shops opened. Many workers were seen discussing in hush tones the fate of the governor when THISDAY visited the state Secretariat Complex, Yenagoa.
Creek Haven, the Bayelsa State Government seat of power was a ghost of itself as the parking lot was bereft of its usual bustle. There was a telling absence of visitors and exotic cars, which are the norm whenever the governor is in town. Booths of vehicles entering or leaving the premises were subjected to searches by hordes of security operatives who mounted sentry at the main gate.
.…And the phones went dead
Besides the unwillingness of top Bayelsa State Government officials to speak on the arrest of Governor Alamieyeseigha in London, phone lines of his close aides suddenly went dead. Those who managed to keep their lines open put it off as soon as the caller is identified. Others allowed it to ring to the end without an answer. The situation was not helped by the absence of the Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Dr. Steve Azaiki and other key government officials from the state. Not a few of them have taken advantage of the governor’s journey overseas for medical check-up to abandon their duty posts. The ones available were too busy attending to their personal commitments in and outside the state or not willing to be quoted publicly on the travails of the embattled governor.
Indeed, since the arrest of the governor in London was made public, there seem to be no government in Bayelsa State as no notable figure within government has spoken openly on the matter. It was as if there was an order to every government official not to speak. The standard response when confronted by newsmen was “I’m not aware the governor has been arrested. Wait, let me confirm. I will see you later. I shall get back to you after." The promises remain mere promises.
At the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secretariat in Yenezue-gene, Yenagoa, neither the chairman, Engr. Numoipre Wills, nor his deputy, Chief Fyneman Wilson were available for comments when THISDAY called. The state Publicity Secretary, Barrister Dan Esueme Kikile was also not present. When the party Chairman was contacted on phone he said: “I’m in an aircraft, I can’t respond to your questions now. I will speak to you later.” But he never did. It would be recalled that the party chairman also maintained the same stand when THISDAY spoke to him shortly after top officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) visited the state and picked up three-key officials of the state government. The officials who were interrogated, detained in the Rivers States capital, Port Harcourt and later released were the State Accountant General, Elder Stephen Enamamu, the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Solomon Aprella and the Chief Accountant in Government House, Yenagoa, Elder Oloitari Ikemike.
Wills had in a long telephone conversation with THISDAY maintained that the party is not aware that EFCC has arrested any government official in the state. He added that even if the party is informed of the arrest, “PDP is yet to sit and take a decision on the matter”. As it is, the official reaction of PDP, the platform under which Governor Alamieyeseigha contested and won the 1999 and 2003 gubernatorial elections may never come.
Since the arrest of Governor Alamieyeseigha in London, only a few organisations have made their reactions known to the public. This include the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Bayelsa State chapter and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC). In a one-page statement issued in Yenagoa, CNPP said the arrest of Governor Alamieyeseigha was not only a “monumental embarrassment” to Bayelsa State but a vindication of CNPP position on corrupt practices.
Describing it as “sad and unfortunate” the statement, which was signed by CNPP chairman in Bayelsa State, Mr. Miriki Victor Ebikibina regretted that the arrest of the governor is coming at a time when PDP is battling with allegations of corruption.
“CNPP viewed the allegation with deep concern and will convey a crucial meeting to deliberate on the outcome of the on-going investigations. We will thoroughly examine the facts, allegations and activities that led to the arrest of the State Governor in London, and CNPP will address a press conference on the issue.
“CNPP call on EFCC to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter without any political or personal interests, and make its findings known to the people of the state,” the statement added.
However, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the umbrella organisation of Ijaw youths in the country said yesterday in Yenagoa that the arrest of governor Alamieyeseigha was part of a grand plan to destabilise the Ijaws and “turn our attention away from the central issues of survival.”
Addressing a press conference at the national secretariat of IYC in Yenagoa, the National President of IYC, Comrade Oyeinfie Emmanuel Jonjon said, “whoever is perceived as not in support of President Obasanjo self perpetuation agenda is subjected to intimidation and public radiate.”
“We believe the detention and questioning of our number one citizen is a conspiracy between the British authorities and Federal Government of Nigeria, to stifle the voice of the Ijaws against the injustice being done to our people.
“If the Federal Government led by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is serious about corruption what have they done about the huge public funds donated to the Obasanjo presidential library project, which civil society and opinion leaders have all condemned?
“How about the oil blocs acquired through cronies of his children? Is it not a case of nepotism and corruption as represented in fronting for Mr. President? What about the president's brazen use of his powers to seize farm lands belonging to poor citizens in several states allegedly for his farms and schools?
“Detaining His Excellency, at a British airport creates the impression he was running away from the country, whereas he was simply transiting to Nigeria, which speaks volume of the political undertone to this whole saga,” the IYC said.
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