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.
Insecurity: FG Resuscitates Special Terrorism Prosecution Courts
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has said that special terrorism prosecution courts will soon be resuscitated in Nigeria.
In a statement on Thursday, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the AGF, Umar Gwandu, said the decision is part of efforts to address insecurity.
“The federal government is committed to ending insecurity in the country. The courts are to bring to book all those found guilty in connection with terrorism, so as to serve as a deterrent to others,” the statement read.
“In addition to the prosecution of 400 suspected Boko Haram financiers, the measures taken by the government will counter the twin trouble of insurgency and insecurity in the country.”
On April 30, 2013, Ibrahim Auta, the former chief judge of the federal high court, made a practice direction that amended the order 48 rule 4 of the federal high court (civil procedure) rule 2009, which took effect on June 3, 2013.
The practice direction was intended to fast-track criminal trials relating to offences of terrorism, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, rape, corruption, and money laundering cases, and ensure that delays in criminal trials are largely eliminated.
Under this practice, the court shall ensure that criminal cases are fully ready for trial before hearing dates are agreed, in order to minimise undue adjournments and delays.
Parties involved in the trials are also expected to focus only on important matters relating to their cases.
$65m Fraud: ICPC Declares Buhari’s Son-in-Law Wanted
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has declared Gimba Yau Kumo, son-in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, wanted over an alleged $65 million fraud.
In a notice published on Thursday, Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson of the anti-graft commission, said Kumo is declared wanted alongside Tarry Rufus and Bola Ogunsola over alleged misappropriation and dispersion of national housing funds.
Kumo, a former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, married Fatima, the president’s daughter, in 2016 at Daura, Katsina state.
“The persons whose pictures appear above, Mr. Tarry Rufus, Mr. Gimba Yau Kumo and Mr. Bola Ogunsola, are hereby declared WANTED by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in connection with issues bordering on misappropriation of National Housing Funds and diversion of the sum of Sixty Five Million dollars ($65,000,000),” the ICPC said.
“Anyone who has useful information on their whereabouts should report to ICPC Headquarters Abuja, any of the ICPC State Offices or the nearest police station.”
In April, the senate committee on public accounts summoned Kumo to explain the alleged irregular award of N3 billion contract when he was still at the bank.
Igbo Aren’t Violent People, Ignore ‘Rumour’ of Attack on Lagos – Ohanaeze Tells Sanwo-Olu
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has asked Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to ignore threats of attacks on the state.
On Monday, Hakeem Odumosu, Lagos commissioner of police, said the command is probing threats of attacks by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Oodua Republic agitators.
The groups have, however, denied the allegations.
Speaking at a meeting with Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos government house on Thursday, George Obiozor, Ohanaeze president-general, said the “rumour” is intended to distract the governor from delivering good governance to the people.
Obiozor said Igbo people are not known for acts of violence.
“Today, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, in the company of Igbo elders and leaders in Lagos, are here to pay you (Sanwo-Olu) a solidarity visit and to further reassure you that Ndigbo are not violent in nature, neither are we known for acts of violence anywhere we live,” Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary to the governor, quoted Obiozor as saying.
“[On] the constant and periodic dangerous insinuations, rumour, gossip and callous statements that Ndigbo in Lagos or any part of Yorubaland contemplate or instigate violence in Lagos or any part of Yorubaland, we wish to state clearly that anywhere this dangerous rumour or statement is emanating from is aimed to cause division, crises and conflict amongst us.
“We think that this rumour is intended to distract the Lagos State Government from its efforts to provide good governance for all and cause disaffection between Ndigbo who live in Lagos and their host community, which is the second home of several Ndigbo.
“The quick denial of this rumour by members of IPOB and Yoruba groups in Lagos and across the south-west was a source of relief.
“The Igbo nation is renowned for being agents of development, not destruction. Ndigbo are builders and their contributions to the development of Lagos State are evident and exemplary.”