Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has hailed the infrastructure drive in the Niger Delta and believes the oil-rich region will soon match Dubai’s developmental feat.
He said this during the commissioning of the Mgbuoshimini-Nkpor Road in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. The governor praised his Rivers counterpart, Nyesom Wike, for his visionary leadership and expressed optimism that with similar strides by other states in the region, the Niger Delta will eclipse major cities around the world.
“Development must continue in the Niger Delta. We would turn this Niger Delta into another Dubai. Governor Wike has started it and every other governor that will be coming will follow suit,” he said during the event held on Wednesday.
“The same thing [is what] we are doing in Bayelsa. The same thing is happening in Delta. The same thing is happening in Delta. So, I like to thank you, your excellency; the one who has defined and redefined governance in this state.”
For Governor Diri, the Niger Delta must embrace unity to bring development faster to the region. According to him, irrespective of differences in belief and political affiliation, the states in the area should work together to deliver quality governance to the people.
“They want to play Rivers State against Bayelsa State; they want to play Delta State against Bayelsa, against Akwa Ibom. We say, no!” the governor said.
“We must continue to come together; we must continue to live together as brothers and sisters.”
Governor Diri faulted claims that the resources in the region belong to the country, saying the Niger Delta deserves more than it is getting from the Federal Government.
“People say [the] oil belongs to Nigeria. We are not arguing about that. But if Rivers State, Bayelsa State, Delta State were not part of Nigeria, will [the] oil belong to Nigeria? If we were in Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon, will Nigeria claim the oil? Give the due to the Niger Delta people. People give us 13 percent [derivation] and they think that is too much. You give us 13 percent, you take 87 percent.”
He reiterated his government’s zero-tolerance to crime and kidnapping in the state. According to him, no ransom was paid for the commissioner’s release.
Otokito was kidnapped at his home in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state on January 20th.
During the event, the governor also announced the deposition of Otuokpoti community paramount ruler, Chief A.C.T Wongo, and appointed Chief Rescue Abe in an acting capacity.
The governor also announced the sacking of the community’s development committee chairman, Azibalua Amon. He was replaced by Jerry Offor in an acting capacity while the youth president, Emolem Igue, was sacked and replaced by Shadrach Afiemo.
Gunmen have kidnapped the Commissioner for Industry, Trade, and Investment in Bayelsa State, Federal Otokito.
Police authorities in the state confirmed Otokito’s abduction on Friday in a statement, barely a day after the incident took place.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Bayelsa, Asinim Butswat, revealed that the commissioner was abducted on Thursday night at Otuokpoti, a riverine community in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.
He explained that the gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers, stormed Otokito’s residence in Otuokpoti at about 11pm.
The commissioner was later whisked away in a waiting speedboat to an unknown destination, said Butswat who added that the police were already investigating the matter.
He stated that the command has launched a manhunt for the gunmen to rescue the abducted commissioner and ensure his captors were arrested and brought to justice.
Read the statement signed by the command’s spokesman below:
KIDNAP OF HON FEDERAL OTOKITO
Police intensify efforts to arrest the suspects and rescue the kidnapped victim.
Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have abducted Hon Federal Otokito at his residence in Otuokpoti, a riverine community in Ogbia Local Government Area Bayelsa State.
Preliminary investigation reveals that the kidnappers stormed the residence of Hon Federal Otokito on 20th January 2022 at about 2300hours and whisked him away in a waiting speedboat to an unknown destination.
The Command has launched a manhunt for the rescue of the victim and the arrest of the suspects.
“We are helpless. We want the government to save the people of Sagana Kingdom. Many people had to flee the community from fear of the effect of the pollution. We cannot go fishing anymore,” Kaina lamented.
They, therefore, called on the oil company, the state, and Federal Government to come to their aid and demand for supply of health materials to ease the effect of the gas leakage and water pollution on the residents.
Sangana is a densely populated riverine oil-producing community in which the major occupation of the residents is fishing.
The Federal Government on Tuesday ordered the shut down of the Santa Barbara oil fields in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over what it described as an “unfortunate oil spillage.”
The spill occurred on November 5 within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.
“In a proactive measure to address the recent unfortunate oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area,” a statement signed by Ministry of Environment spokesperson, Saghir el Mohammed, said.
“It can be recalled that the spill occurred on November 5, 2021 in a form of fountain on within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.
“Upon receipt of the report of the incident, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regualtory Commission (NUPRC), Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on November 6, 2021 to immediately address the situation. The exercise was inclusive because of inaccessibility to the well head location due to the hydrocarbon fumes that saturated the atmosphere in the area.
“Consequently, the JIT directed AEEPCo to shut in the impacted asset (well head) for appropriate oil II response. Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.
“As at November 10, 2021, efforts to shut in the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility. But in an effort to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give progress report on the measures being taken to address the issue. There is further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilled oil recovery process.
“In this vein, 3000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge. Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Associates, a Tier II response (CNA) System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.
“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by 15th November. Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) has mobilized to site for enhanced containment and recovery. Boot & Coots, mobilized for well control and securing. AEEPCo has secured temporary Work Permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity. Logistics support and arrangement build-up for the Well kill activity is currently ongoing.
“Based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the incident location for an on-site assessment. Meanwhile containment and recovery is still on-going. It is instructive to note that the well head experts have arrived Nigeria and will commence work on the killing of the well tomorrow.
“However, in order to ensure safety and guaranty future operations in the area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions to address the situation that include clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post spill impact assessment.
“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency through the Federal Ministry of Environment will keep the public informed of future developments on the spill incident with an effort to contained further spread and limit the effect on the environment.”
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.