Posted by By Dave Ashang on
MY attention has been drawn to what appears to be a growing and alarming story relating to the attack on the convoy of the Hon. Minister of Power and Steel, Senator Liyel Imoke.
MY attention has been drawn to what appears to be a growing and alarming story relating to the attack on the convoy of the Hon. Minister of Power and Steel, Senator Liyel Imoke. The exalted office and profile of the person who was said to have been attacked, a serving Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would naturally attract significant interest from all well-meaning Nigerians. It is a concern I share.
Whose convoy attacked the Hon. Minister? The Comet newspapers' story captioned "NDLEA men open fire on minister's cars" and from where The Guardian most probably derived its recent editorial titled "NDLEA men and the Minister's convoy" arrived at a very erroneous conclusion that NDLEA men in the convoy of the Agency's Director General/Secretary (my humble self) attacked the Hon. Minister.
One cardinal point that The Comet and The Guardian elected to ignore is the fact that the Hon. Minister was said to have been attacked by a 504 Station Wagon on the convoy conveying Armed Mobile Policemen and that the mobile policemen brought out their guns and fired several shots, as officially reported by the Hon. Minister.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following are the facts from my stand point:
As the Director General/Secretary, I never, for a single day since I assumed office at the NDLEA, had any convoy attached to me. I have only one orderly and a driver. I have never had any Police orderly since I assumed duties as Director General/Secretary. My Orderly is an NDLEA agent whose uniform is clearly distinguishable from that of the Police.
It is also worthy of note that since February 2006 when the
Inspector-General of Police issued a circular withdrawing Police Escorts and directed that requests for Police escort must be approved by him personally, to the best of my knowledge, the Agency has not forwarded any request for Police escort to the Office of the IGP. Only NDLEA officers and Agents provide escorts services.
I have only one official vehicle in Lagos (Peugeot 406), and one other at Abuja (Peugeot 504) which I share with other Directors as the need arises.
On Sunday May 14, 2006, when the alleged attack took place (The Comet mentioned May 13, 2006), neither my humble self nor the Chairman/Chief Executive NDLEA was in Abuja. The Chairman/Chief Executive left Abuja on Thursday May 11, 2006 at 21.10hrs on Virgin Nigeria after a meeting with the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and did not return to Abuja until the last week of May 2006.
In the same vein, I was at Shagamu, Ogun State, on Friday May
12, 2006, along with my fellow members on the Presidential Committee on Port decongestion, which is verifiable. I returned to Lagos for the weekend to prepare for a meeting with Directors, Commanders and other Principal Officers which took place on Monday May 15, 2006 at the Conference Room of the National Headquarters, 4 Shaw Road, Ikoyi. This fact is also verifiable.
To the best of my knowledge, the NDLEA does not have any station wagon vehicle being used for escort services in Abuja. It was insinuated that I alighted from my vehicle to take a look at the Minister's vehicle before I went my way. This is most uncharitable and a calculated attempt to smear my reputation. For the records, we are from the same State with the Hon. Minister and we know ourselves and can call each other by first name. The Hon. Minister did not mention anywhere that he saw me. It is, therefore, still a mystery as to how my name featured so prominently in the tragic story of the Minister's attack or even of the NDLEA for that matter.
Considering my position, I would have disregarded The Comet newspapers story knowing fully well that the matter is being attended to officially, just as it is clear that I was nowhere close to the scene of the incidence. However, considering that when rumour is allowed to hover for too long, it gradually assumes the colour of being the truth, it has become quite compelling that this sad and misleading story be straightened for the records. This is more so when reputable publications are beginning to swallow the Comet story hook, line and sinker even with an editorial.
It is expected that a sensitive story such as this would have been followed up with proper investigation in order to ascertain the truth by the newspapers. Instead, wild and unfounded reactions and insinuations have since taken the centre stage, subjecting a tragic incidence to evidence tempering, thereby diminishing its significance. This, indeed, is very sad and unfortunate. The incidence does not take away my confidence in the Nigerian media. I sincerely hope the media will appreciate that every one of its publication can contain "stray bullets" that can harm the innocent and distort the case of a victim. The media houses that goofed in reporting this sensitive story should try to improve on their reportage and editorial policies for the benefits of their readership. I reserve the right for an apology when the facts of the case are established independently as the concerned authorities are working hard to unmask the people involved in that tragic incident.
This is a clear case of mistaken identity which has led to "media stray bullets" shot on my person and can only be extracted by the truth as laid bare before all. This I did in my personal capacity and not that of the NDLEA.
* Ashang is the Director General of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
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