A new Commissioner of Police, CP Ben Okolo, has assumed duty at the Bayelsa State Police Command.
Okolo took charge on Monday, following the deployment of the erstwhile police boss, CP Echeng Eworo Echeng to Anambra State.
His posting was approved by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, who charged him to boost public safety in the state.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who disclosed this via a statement said the IGP equally asked the new police commissioner to “bring his wealth of experience to bear in advancing the gains in crime prevention” in the Niger Delta state.
He also urged residents of the state to cooperate with the new police commissioner to enable him to succeed in his assignment.
The new police commissioner is a fellow of the National Defence College and hails from Onitsha in Anambra State.
Having earned a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, CP Okolo has vast experience in policing and community safety.
Prior to his new appointment, he held key positions within the Force cutting across administration, criminal investigations, operations, amongst others.
Okolo has previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Force Intelligence Bureau, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit and the Head of IGP Monitoring Unit, amongst other positions.
He has also attended several courses (leadership and professional) within and outside Nigeria including the Tactical Command Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, Strategic and Management Training Course at the INTERPOL Headquarters, France.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it would welcome former President Goodluck Jonathan if he decides to join the ruling party.
A chieftain of the party, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, said if the Nigerian ex-President defects to their fold, it will strengthen the party’s structure.
“I am hearing that for the first time that we are expecting the former President. That will be great news. We will welcome him; that will also strengthen the party,” Akpanudoedehe, who is also the National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, said.
It was an occasion for great celebration as a United Nigeria Airline (UNA) aircraft touched down at the Bayelsa State International Airport on Wednesday.
This landing was of a different import, even as it entered into the history books, becoming the first commercial flight to commence operations at the airport.
The aircraft took off from the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 (MMA2) in Lagos at exactly 3pm. It had on board the state governor, Senator Douye Diri; the airline’s chairman, Chief Obiora Okonkwo and Bayelsa-born Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, Blessing Oborududu.
Others were King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Ambassador Boladei Igali, National Assembly members from Bayelsa State, members of the state House of Assembly, commissioners among other dignitaries.
Many Bayelsans were also on the ground and could not hold back their joy, as the historic event holds great potentials for economic growth and development in the state.
When the aircraft landed, Governor Diri told his people that full commercial flights would commence in two weeks based on bookings made.
“This is the maiden commercial flight of the United Nigeria Airlines. From today, you can book online, you can book and we hope that by next week or there about, they will commence the usual commercial flights from Lagos to Yenagoa and from Abuja to Yenagoa,” the governor stated.
According to him, the event is a culmination of the aspirations that was birthed by late Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of the state, which was eventually built by Senator Seriake Dickson, his predecessor, and finally brought to fruition under his administration.
The Bayelsa governor believes that that the landmark event is a true testament that his team truly works.
Senator Seriake Dickson has explained that he was at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to clarify some issues related to assets declaration.
The former Bayelsa State leader was at the office of the anti-graft agency in Abuja on Tuesday upon the invitation of the agency. He was later released to go home.
In a statement he issued later in the day, Senator Seriake noted that a non-governmental organization had petitioned the EFCC over some of his assets which they claimed were not declared.
“I understand that the subject matter of the inquiry relates to investments of my family trust, which I incorporated while being a member of the House of Reps to hold my family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor,” the lawmaker representing Bayelsa West, added.
“I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared. I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.”
He noted that the said his family investments were made before he became the leader of the the oil-rich state and that these assets were declared to the right quarters before and after he left office.
“My solicitors and those of the trust have written to the EFCC to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents,” he said.
According to him, on getting to the EFCC office, the investigating team made fresh allegation of a diversion of N17.5 billion flood funds in 2012.
“The petition further alleged that the money was used for my re-election in 2019. The fact is that there was no such donation about the 2012 flood in Bayelsa,” the statement further said.
“Curiously, there was no mention of donor or where the money came from. There was also no re-election for governorship in Bayelsa in 2019 which are clear proofs that the petition was totally frivolous.”
The EFCC, he said, is “looking into these allegations”.
READ FULL STATEMENT
About two weeks ago I received an invitation from the EFCC to clarify some issues relating to assets declarations as alleged by an NGO.
On account of our busy schedule at the time, I wrote to inform them and we agreed to reschedule the interview for today.
As a law abiding citizen and with a life long commitment to supporting Law enforcement and security agencies, I honored the invitation today as rescheduled. I understand that the subject matter of the inquiry relates to investments of my family trust, which I incorporated while being a member of the House of Reps to hold my family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor.
I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared. I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.
However, for the avoidance of doubts, let me state that my family investments, Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor.
These investments were funded by loans and advances and repaid from salaries, allowances, savings and others. One of them is still on mortgage and I have made these documents available to the EFCC.
These investments were declared in my assets declaration form at the House of Reps in 2011; my Governorship form in 2012, 2016, 2020 after I left office and the Senate Assets declaration form this year.
I went beyond these declarations and wrote several letters to the appropriate agencies, copies of which have been made available to the EFCC. My trust and I subscribed to the federal government Voluntary Assets Income AND Declaration Scheme (VAIDES) and also paid the necessary taxes.
As a result of blackmail from some quarters, the Trust and I went to the Federal High Court where there is a subsisting judgement declaring that no Nigerian law is breached by a public officer who takes loans and other verifiable avenues to make investments for his family provided these are declared.
It should be on record that I have since resigned from the Trust Administration since 2011 before I became Governor.
My solicitors and those of the trust have written to the EFCC to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents.
However on getting to the commission, the investigating team came up with a new allegation of diversion of flood funds in 2012 totaling N17.5 billion. The petition further alleged that the money was used for my re-election in 2019. The fact is that there was no such donation about the 2012 flood in Bayelsa.
Curiously, there was no mention of donor or where the money came from. There was also no re-election for governorship in Bayelsa in 2019 which are clear proofs that the petition was totally frivolous.
The commission after looking into these allegations have since asked me to return home on self recognition.
I have authorized this statement to be released for the avoidance of any misinformation.
Senator Henry Seriake Dickson Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is questioning the former Governor of Bayelsa State Senator Seriake Dickson, over issues relating to the management of resources during his term as the leader of the oil-rich state.
EFCC’s spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren confirmed the development to Channels Television on Tuesday.
The Senator has been at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency in Abuja since 11:00 am. He was later released to go home.
In a statement he signed and issued later in the day, Senator Seriake explained that he was invited by the agency to clarify issues related to the non-declaration of assets.
He said a non-governmental organization has written to the EFCC that he has not declared some assets, leading to his invitation by the agency.
“I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared,” he said.
“I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.”
He added that he made his family investments before emerging as the governor of Bayelsa State and that he had already declared his assets.
“My solicitors and those of the trust have written to the EFCC to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents,” Seriake added.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has cautioned his appointees against early politicking ahead of the 2023 elections, saying he would not hesitate to sack any of them found wanting.
Speaking before the commencement of the weekly State Executive Council meeting in Government House on Wednesday, Governor Diri frowned on the activities of some of his appointees, which he said were hitting up the polity ahead of the 2023 elections, stressing that it was too early for open politicking.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that although people having the right to aspire to any political office, the time was not ripe for politicking.
“I find it very difficult to believe that appointees in this government have already started open politicking,” Diri was quoted as saying.
“Yes, it is the constitutional right of anybody to contest but even the Bible tells us that there is time for everything. At this time, we are trying to stamp our feet to meet up our campaign promises to our people.
“I hereby caution all those involved to immediately withdraw. If you are prepared to continue with this government, you must listen to the music of this administration. We are not prepared to start politicking from this year.”
The governor reminded his appointees that the administration lost considerable time last year due to COVID-19 and needless litigations, stressing that it was in a hurry to deliver on its campaign promises and cannot afford to waste time politicking.
He wondered why appointees would be involved in open politicking when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not even released a timetable for elections.
He urged members of his cabinet interested in open politicking at this time, especially those from Bayelsa West Senatorial District, to resign or be ready to be sacked.
He called on all those involved in the early politicking to immediately withdraw and follow the directives of his administration, saying his government was not ready for politics at this time.
“The Bayelsa State Police Command has launched a manhunt for the rescue of Madam Betinah Benson and arrest of the suspects.
“Madam Betinah Benson 80 years was kidnapped on 20th July 2021, at about at about 2300 hours at her residence at Old Legislative Quarters, Azikoro Road, Yenagoa. The kidnappers who were dressed in military camouflage stormed the residence and kidnapped the victim to an unknown destination,” the statement read in part.
The statement added that the Commissioner of Police Bayelsa State Command, Mike Okoli, and other detectives have visited the scene and investigation is in progress.
Bayelsa has seen a surge in the activities of gunmen in recent years.
In 2020, a police officer was shot dead while trying to prevent an attack at the residence of Seriake Dickson, a former governor of Bayelsa, in Sagbama LGA of the state.
A year before, gunmen attacked a security post within the country home of former President Goodluck Jonathan at Otuoke, Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa.
Also in 2019, gunmen abducted the mother of former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia at her residence in Adoni community Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
The Bayelsa State Government has directed that the residents of Bassambiri and Ogbolomari community in Nembe Local Government Area observe a dusk-to-dawn curfew to prevent the escalation of violent crisis in the community.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Mr Ayibaina Duba, who issued the directive regarding the curfew said the curfew takes effect from Wednesday.
Duba said the decision is a result of the state government’s review of reports of violent crisis in Nembe LGA during the weekend which allegedly led to the death of an adult male in the Basambiri Community.
According to him, the curfew shall be in force from 6 pm to 6 am daily until the security situation improves.
The statement reads, “Bayelsa State Government has reviewed the reports of violent crisis in Nembe, leading to a breach of the public peace and the law by yet-to-be-identified individuals.
“Worried that the violence might escalate, a dusk to dawn curfew is hereby imposed on Nembe; Bassambiri, Ogbolomabiri and environs effective from Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
“The curfew shall be in force from 6pm to 6am daily until the security situation in Nembe improves. Relevant security formations have been mobilized to enforce the dusk to dawn curfew. Residents of the area are, therefore, advised to comply in their own interest.
“Government further wishes to implore residents of Nembe and aggrieved individuals in the area to allow peace to reign by seeking civilised alternatives to resolving whatever might have caused the recent unfortunate situation.”
Team Delta on Monday opened the gate for medal rush with gold from the 80km road race for women at the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival.
Ese Ukpeseraye beat 12 other cyclists to cross the finish line and clinch the first gold medal at the games ongoing in Benin city, the Edo state capital.
Host state Edo settled for the silver and bronze medals when Ayuba sisters – Comfort and Grace – came second and third respectively.
Elsewhere, Team Bayelsa sent a clear statement of intent after winning three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals from swimming.
Ifiemi Gagbe got the campaign going as she won the gold medal in 100 meters freestyle in swimming, while Golden Ifie made it two just as Yellow Yeighya completed the hat-trick of gold medals in the men’s 200m freestyle events.
Earlier, Doutimi Gagbe settled for the bronze medal in 200 meters Butterfly Stroke event.
Team Bayelsa also won two gold medals and a bronze in Judo to cap a memorable opening day of action at the National Sports Festival.
Ese Bassey and Selere Mathias got gold medals while Udeze Amarachi had bronze.
Team Oyo and Taraba were reinstated on Monday to participate in the games after being barred from competing.
Organisers had barred both teams from the event after they failed to produce the evidence of COVID-19 vaccination for their athletes.
The decision was later rescinded after the authorities of both states arrived with the certificates, in line with the directives of the COVID-19 protocols for the games.
Team Oyo has already featured in the swimming event.
Bayelsa State Government has enacted a law prohibiting open grazing of livestock in the state.
Governor Douye Diri assented to the Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law 2021 on Wednesday at the Executive Chamber of Government House in Yenagoa.
He said the essence of the law is to ensure harmonious living between cattle dealers and other inhabitants of the state and to forestall the violent clashes being experienced in other parts of the country.
“Bayelsa State welcomes all and sundry to eke out a living legitimately. The people of Bayelsa want to have a mutual and harmonious relationship with non-natives and natives. The essence of the law is to avert and forestall any clash between herdsmen, farmers, natives and non-natives as experienced in some states,” he said.
“From the commencement of the law, no person shall breed, rear or trade in livestock in the state in any other place as may be designated by the committee and approved by the state government.”
The law, according to him, stipulates that any herdsman found with arms, whether licenced or not, should be arrested.
Governor Diri also stated that the law establishes a livestock management committee to regulate livestock activities in the state.
Members of the committee include the Commissioner for Agriculture, security agencies, youths and others.
The law prohibits the movement of cattle on foot from other parts of the country into the state, inspection of livestock and certification by veterinary doctors at entry points into the state among others.
Diri said by assenting to the law, any person found engaging in open grazing of livestock on foot commits an offence and would be arrested and prosecuted with the livestock impounded.
The governor also signed into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law 2021.
He explained that the law was to prevent certain harmful practices against women and children, noting that with its enactment, Bayelsa has domesticated the federal law, which had been in existence.
In his remarks, Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abraham Ingobere, while presenting the bills for the governor’s assent, said the livestock regulation bill was to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has commiserated with the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, over the loss of some police personnel that drowned while escorting voting materials during the December 5 senatorial bye-election in the state.
The boat conveying the policemen capsized on its way to Oporoma, the headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
In a statement issued on Sunday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor alsoo condoled with the families of the deceased policemen, adding that their sudden demise while on national duty was very painful.
While describing the incident as unfortunate, he prayed to God to give the IGP and the families of the policemen the strength to bear the great loss.
On the smooth conduct of the election, Governor Diri commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for process put in place for the exercise.
The governor, who voted at his hometown in Sampou Ward 7 Unit 4 accompanied by his wife, Gloria Diri, said INEC’s decision of having accreditation and voting simultaneously saved time and energy.
“The process was faster and even smoother. The card reader identified me as soon as my voter’s card was slotted in,” he said.
“So I can describe the process as smooth, fast and peaceful. Certainly, the simultaneous accreditation and voting enhanced the process rather than waiting for hours before coming back to vote. I think this decision of taking them at the same time is far better than what we used to do.”
Reacting to the alleged hijacking of election materials in Agbere community in Sagbama Ward One, Senator Diri described the act as the handiwork of mischief-makers bent on discrediting the electoral process.
The governor called on Bayelsa people not to give a negative image of the state, saying that it is a state with people of integrity that work hard to earn a living.
To Diri, he is optimistic that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would clinch victory judging by the pedigree and capacity of its candidates for the Bayelsa West and Central senatorial districts.
He further described the National Assembly as a place for serious-minded persons and not for jokers.
“We fielded quality candidates and you can see the difference between the PDP candidates and the others. The Senate is not a place for jokers. The Senate is not a place for school dropouts or people who were dismissed from service,” he added.
Tigger-happy policemen on routine patrol along the Tombia/Etegwe axis of the Yenagoa metropolis have shot a 17-year-old trader and two other residents of Bayelsa State who went to the Tombia market for regular shopping.
The unprovoked shooting enraged some residents of the state on Wednesday who called for steep disciplinary measures to be meted to the officers involved in the shooting.
Channels Television learned that the teenage victim, Alice Azaghene, would require a surgical operation to enable her to use her legs again.
A resident, Kingdom Baine, said the teenager was sent to the market to trade periwinkle before tragedy struck.
“I was in my house yesterday when her elder sister sent her to sell periwinkle at the market in the night around past 7 pm. After then, a police van arrived and shot.
“After shooting the gun, bullets entered her two legs. That was what they told me,” the resident narrated.
Another victim of the shooting, Ebinipre Onojamadu, said the second gunshot fired by the police personnel pierced her legs and put her in her current situation.