Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the Nigerian Army of running illegal bunkering in Rivers State.
The governor accused Jamil Sarham, the general officer commanding the Army’s 6 Division in Port Harcourt, of raising a team of soldiers to steal and sell petroleum products in the region.
“The GOC has his own team now doing oil bunkering for him because he wants to be chief of army staff,” Mr Wike said while receiving a team of military personnel from ‘Operation Delta Safe’ on Wednesday. “If you give that kind of person chief of army staff, what kind of security would we have in this country?”
“He cannot be removed here because they know the role he is playing for them: sabotaging our security architecture,” the governor added.
Mr Wike said Mr Sarham, a major-general, regularly divulges confidential security briefings to criminals, and the military leadership’s reluctance in removing him was deliberate.
“We would have security meeting, he will release it to criminals,” Mr Wike said. “And chief of army staff will leave the man here because he is playing their role.”
Mr Wike said he has been leading security efforts to “reduce crime to the barest minimum,” in Rivers, which ranks amongst Nigeria’s most volatile states. But the army constitutes an obstacle for success, he alleged.
The ‘Operation Delta Safe’ is a joint-security patrol of the Niger Delta region, where cases of oil theft and disruption of oil installations are regularly reported. The courtesy visit to Mr Wike was led by Akinjide Akinrinade, a naval rear admiral and overall head of the operation.
Mr Wike said it would be difficult for ‘Operation Delta Safe’ to arrest military personnel sent on oil bunkering mission if they encountered one another in the creeks.
The governor did not provide any evidence to substantiate his allegations. His media adviser, Oraye Franklin, told PREMIUM TIMES he has nothing to add to the governor’s comments.
Mr Wike, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, has made unsubstantiated allegations in the past against Buhari administration officials and security chiefs. Following the discovery of a cash haul in Ikoyi in April 2017, Mr Wike claimed the money belonged to Rivers State, having allegedly been plundered by his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi.
But when asked to provide evidence during forfeiture hearings, the governor failed to make any submission to the court. The money was later claimed by the Nigeria Intelligence Agency and forfeited to the Nigerian government.
Mr Wike has also regularly accused the government and security agencies, including the police, of plotting to assassinate him without corroboration.
Mr Sarham declined comments to PREMIUM TIMES about the allegations on Sunday morning. He admitted the allegations were “grievous,” but said he had not received clearance to make a public statement as of 9:20 a.m. on Sunday.
The Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, told PREMIUM TIMES he could not comment on the allegations Sunday morning.
He asked that enquiries should be directed to Aminu Ilyasu, a spokesperson for the 6 Division. But Mr Ilyasu, a colonel, also declined comments, saying he was at a function and could not immediately say when it would be a good time for him to speak.
Messrs Wike and Sarham have clashed repeatedly since the army chief was appointed as the GOC of 6 Division in August 2018.
During the elections, the governor accused the army of undermining democracy in Rivers, after a series of deadly shootings forced the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend results collation.
At least two soldiers were killed in the state during the elections between February and March. About a dozen people were killed across the state during the elections.
The electoral body, INEC, also criticised the Army’s conduct during the elections.
Days before the governorship election on March 9, Mr Sarham accused Mr Wike of offering bribes to military officers. The governor denied the allegations, dragging Nigerian Army to the International Criminal Court over the killings, injuries and destruction of properties recorded across the state during the elections.
Nnamdi Kanu Still Our Leader, Not Replaced – IPOB
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it has not replaced the currently detained Nnamdi Kanu as its leader.
The Biafra group asked its followers to ignore the reports making the rounds that IPOB has replaced Kanu, describing it as “fabricated media propaganda”.
These were made known in a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Tuesday.
According to Powerful, Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of the IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
The statement read in part, “We, the global movement and family of IPOB under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, condemn the useless and fabricated media propaganda and blackmail from some media houses that IPOB has another or acting leader replacing our indefatigable liberator and prophet Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“Those peddling this kind of lies are those criminals who zoo gutter media are publishing this to confuse the weak-minded people.
“We want everybody to bear in mind that Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
“It is unfortunate that some mischievous elements twisted an unambiguous statement by IPOB where we clarified that in the meantime that our Leader is in detention, the Head of DOS, Mazi Edoziem, will be providing direction on the day-to-day activities of IPOB. We never said that Edoziem had become the Acting Leader of IPOB.
“For the avoidance of doubts, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu remains the leader of IPOB. The entire IPOB family all over the world is loyal to him. IPOB has no Acting Leader. Chika Edoziem is only the Head of DOS of IPOB not the Leader.
“We, therefore, urge our family members, supporters, friends, and members of the public to ignore the misleading and mischievous media report.”
Terrorists Responsible for Owo Church Massacre in Our Custody – General Irabor
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said that the military has arrested the terrorists behind the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
General Lucky Irabor according to news monitored on SolaceBase, made the revelation on Tuesday, during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Appreciating the collaboration with sister security agencies, which helped in the arrests of the criminals, Irabor recalled that about 40 person’s were brutally murdered when heavily armed men invaded their worship centre on June 5, 2022.
My Invitation to Rivers to Commission Projects Demonstration of Politics Without Bitterness – Sanwo-Olu
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said that his invitation by the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, to commission a project in Rivers State, is a clear demonstration of politics without bitterness. This is noting that the Lagos State governor is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Wike is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (APC).
On Monday, Sanwo-Olu was a guest of the Rives governor to commission the Orochiri-Worokwu (Waterlines) Flyover delivered by the state government.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“I would like to specially commend my brother, Governor Wike, for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“A commitment that has been recognized by all and sundry, and which has earned him the appellation of “Mr. Projects” within and outside Rivers State,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said though himself and governor Wike belong to different political persuasions, the invitation extended to him sends a very strong message that politicians and political leaders, can come together across political and ideological divides, for the good of the people.
“There is also a strong message being made today about expanding our capacity to play politics without bitterness. This symbolic gesture by my friend and brother is one that should become standard practice across Nigeria.
“There is also a lot that we can learn from one another, and experience that we can translate from one part of the country to the other,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
It will recalled that Wike is in the habit of inviting notable politicians across parties as guests of honour during the unveiling of any of his projects. The likes of governor of Ekiti State, who is also an APC member and Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare were once invited to commission projects in the state.
Governor Wike had explained that the invitation of the Lagos State governor was not the first time persons of other political parties were invited to inaugurate projects in Rivers State, pointing to the overall benefits such invitations have on governance because it served as peer review for them.