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... Bayelsa SSG, commissioner arrested

Posted by Soni Daniel and Bisi Olaniyi on 2005/12/10 | Views: 485 |

... Bayelsa SSG, commissioner arrested


Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Dr. Steve Azaiki, and the state’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Matthew Karimo, have been arrested by security operatives.

Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Dr. Steve Azaiki, and the state’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Matthew Karimo, have been arrested by security operatives.

Azaiki, who left Yenagoa last week for medical check-up in the United States of America, was reportedly picked up by security men in one of the West African countries as he tried to escape.

The SSG was believed to have used the medical trip as a cover-up to escape, having seen the imminent collapse of the Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha administration.

Alamieyeseigha was impeached for gross misconduct on Friday and was immediately arrested, handcuffed and flown to Abuja, where he is being detained.

He is to face criminal charges for money laundering.

On the other hand, the works commissioner was arrested in Yenagoa by men of the Bayelsa State Police Command on Friday night, a few hours after his former boss was flown to Abuja.

His arrest was said to be in connection with the withdrawal of a huge sum of money from one of the commercial banks in Port Harcourt, to advance the cause of the ousted governor.

Sources said the commissioner, who carried the money in a state government-owned Prado jeep, was trailed from the Rivers State capital to Yenagoa, where he was eventually arrested.

When our correspondents visited the state’s Criminal Investigation Department at 1pm on Saturday, the jeep was still packed alongside another Lexus jeep, said to be from the fleet of the impeached governor.

Karimo, who spotted a white short-sleeved shirt upon a pair of light brown trousers, was brought out to meet a captain from the Joint Task Force.

The officer, accompanied by two soldiers held a brief discussion with Karimo, before the commissioner was taken back to one of the offices.

After conferring with Karimo, the army captain also met with the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the state’s CID, Mr. Mohammed Gazali, before driving off in a white Toyota Hiace bus.

Gazali declined comments on the fate of the commissioner, insisting that it was the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, who is yet to return to Yenagoa, after moving Alamieyeseigha to Abuja, that could comment.

Meanwhile, in line with last Friday’s directive of the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, the acting Governor of the state, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, will be inaugurated on Monday as the substantive governor.

At the almost one hour sitting attended by 17 of the 24 lawmakers, the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, was directed to immediately inaugurate Jonathan.

Igoniwari was, however, away to Abuja on Friday, to attend the judges’ conference, while the acting governor also recently relocated to Abuja, when attempt was made on his life in Yenagoa.

A source close to Jonathan who craved anonymity, told Sunday Punch that arrangement for the low-keyed inauguration had reached an advanced stage.

The acting governor is expected to return to Yenagoa on Sunday evening or Monday morning.

The source said a new deputy governor may also be inaugurated alongside the governor on Monday.

A member of the state’s House of Assembly from one of the four constituencies in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area is being tipped as Jonathan’s deputy, while a by-election will immediately be held to fill the vacant position in the house.

In a related development, the National Vice Chairman, South-South, of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Chief Douglas Naingba, has described the report of the seven-member panel, headed by Mr. David Serena-Dokubo Spiff, which indicted Alamieyeseigha of gross misconduct, as the greatest civilian coup manned by the military.

Naingba, a former chairman of ANPP in Bayelsa state, said judgment should not have been passed by the lawmakers on two of the 10-count charge contained in the notice of impeachment.

The ANPP chieftain equally declared that the panel’s report was prepared in Abuja and that nobody could suppress the Niger Deltans.

The panel’s chairman, while presenting the report before the impeachment, pointed out that owing to the non-availability of funds due to the freezing of the state’s accounts, the panelists had to task themselves to carry out the crucial assignment.

Spiff said that what they submitted was only the first part of the panel’s report and would turn in the second part in due course.

He stressed that the allegations of the governor jumping bail and refusing to inform the lawmakers of his travails in London, but rather backdated his letter of September 1, 2005, for 120 days’ leave to “rest” in London, could be investigated without moving to the Corporate Affairs Commission and Lands Registry for confirmation.

The chairman added that the two allegations for which the former governor was indicted by the panel were gross misconduct, which attracted the impeachment.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Yenagoa and its environs remained tense on Saturday, as almost all the commissioners and top government officials had gone underground, with their mobile lines were “not available”.

The perceived enemies of Alamieyeseigha and members of the panel that investigated the allegations against the governor, have all relocated from Bayelsa, to avoid being eliminated by a killer squad.

A prominent Ijaw elder, who was accused of working against the interest of the former governor, narrowly escaped being assassinated on Wednesday by a four-man armed gang, along the Yenagoa–Mbiama Road, with a list of those to be eliminated being brandished.

Their target was, however, not in the Mercedes Benz car, when the Peugeot 406 saloon car waylaid it, with the driver told to take them to the master’s residence in Port Harcourt, but the smart driver maintained that the car belonged to a different person, since the car was registered with the master’s initials.

The state’s police commissioner, while reacting to the incident, said security would be beefed up in the state, to avoid any untoward incident.

The speaker had on Friday appealed to the Federal Government not to withdraw the troops from Bayelsa, to ensure the safety of lives and property.

SUNDAY PUNCH, December 11, 2005

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