Elder statesman and leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to regard himself as the President of Nigeria.
Addressing reporters on Monday at his residence in Abuja, he stressed the need for the President to see himself as the leader of the country and not of the Fulani tribe.
“I am appealing to Mr President that what is going on in this country today is unconstitutional; this country does not belong to Mr President or anybody alone, it belongs to everybody with equal rights,” Clark said.
He added, “Enough is enough in this country; when these people make such a reckless and irresponsible statement, no Federal Government agent or even the security agent, took action.”
The elder statesman made the remarks in response to a statement credited to a group of herders who threatened to attack Delta State for banning open grazing.
The group, according to him, is said to have issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the state to reverse its ban on open grazing in Delta.
Clark faulted the purported threat and decried the failure of the President and the security agencies to condemn the action of the group.
In a bid to move the nation forward, he disclosed that he attended a meeting on Thursday last week where various political and traditional leaders among others had a series of deliberations that lasted about nine hours.
The meeting, Clark noted, was chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo with at least three former Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJNs), Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, among others, in attendance.
“We sat for nine hours; I am 94, nine hours without moving from my seat, discussing the affairs of Nigeria and how to move it forward, but a group of people – irresponsible men – are threatening us and the President and his agents kept quiet; we can no longer continue in a country where some people regard themselves as superior to the others,” he said.
He added, “Mr President should realise that it is southern Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta, that provides the resources for the survival of this country, and any attempt by anybody to deride us will be resisted.”
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, leaders from the southern region and the middle belt are demanding that the presidency be zoned to the south in the overall interest of Nigeria as a united country.
The leader of the group, Chief Edwin Clark stated this on Sunday during a press conference in Abuja, describing the ongoing constitutional amendment exercise by the National Assembly, as fraudulent.
He also insisted on a total restructuring of Nigeria and a brand new constitution fashioned after the 1963 constitution.
“The South should be ready to have the next President, without that, no Nigeria. We want to restructure of Nigeria if there has to be a Nigeria to continue,” he said.
“We want the zoning to continue, it is conventional. When the Constitution did not provide for a succession when Yar’ Adua was ill, the convention was adopted.
“Even though zoning is not part of our 1999 Constitution or our party institution, it has been an acceptable convention.”
The elder statesman said the country needs a brand-new constitution, adding that the 1963 Constitution recognised the country as a four-legged country where each region developed at its own pace, which was not the case in recent times.
According to him, the situation of things is such that one state that is not developed would be dragging a developed state down.
See the communique issued after the meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum below:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF AN EXPANDED MEETING OF THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE BELT LEADERS’ FORUM HELD ON SUNDAY, 30TH MAY, 2021
An expanded Meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), held on Sunday, 30th May 2021, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, ABUJA. The Meeting, chaired by Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON, had, in attendance leaders of various socio-cultural organizations as follows: Afenifere, for the South West; Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for the South East; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), for the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), for the Middle Belt.
The Meeting also had in attendance, former Governors, Ministers and Members of the National Assembly, from the respective Zones (list attached).
The Meeting exhaustively discussed various issues about the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, bordering on the Security, National Dialogue, Restructuring, and the preparations for the 2023 General Elections.
Arising therefrom, the Meeting resolved as follows:
Urges the Federal Government to heed the genuine and reasonable nationwide calls for a transparent National Dialogue, and take urgent steps towards restructuring and birthing a new Constitution; to bring back equitable harmony to the Country;
Insists that it is imperative to immediately restructure the country considering the precarious prevailing atmosphere before any further elections.
iii. Reminds all leading political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties, that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests in fair and even sharing of power;
Notes that the Northern part of the Country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency, for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, hence, should yield to the South;
Therefore, the Meeting:
Unequivocally and in full resolve, calls on the APC and PDP and other political parties to zone the Presidency, in 2023 to the South; at the next election.
Enjoins political stakeholders from the South not to be lured into the unpatriotic step of seeking such other positions as National Chairmen and Vice President of the main political parties, but join forces to demand and ensure that the Presidency moves to the South in 2023;
iii. Calls on the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on security and urgently come up with proactive strategies to restore peace and security to all parts of the country;
Emphasizes that, if the security situation is not dealt with and banditry stopped or reduced to the barest minimum, it would not be feasible to have proper elections in 2023;
Condemns the cavalier attitude of the federal government towards the resolutions of the Governors of Southern States at their Meeting, held in Asaba, Delta State on 11th May 2021;as it pertains to ban on open grazing and restructuring.
Insists that cattle rearing is a generally, private business enterprise, as such, the Federal Government should avoid committing state resources to promote any particular business, beyond providing the enabling environment, in the performance of its regulatory roles;
vii. Extends condolences to the families of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other military personnel, who died in the unfortunate military plane crash on 21st May 2021, and calls on the military authorities to carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the actual cause of the crash;
viii. Reaffirms its commitment to the unity of Nigeria, but must only be sustained on the principles of Equity, Fairness and Justice.
The Meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and collective commitment to the decisions.
Done in ABUJA, this 30th Day of May 2021.
Chief E. K. Clark, OFR, CON – Leader
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere
Amb. Prof George Obiozor – President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum
Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman PANDEF.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot fix the myriad of security challenges facing the country.
This is according to an elder statesman and former Minister of Information, Edwin Clark, who stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight which aired on Sunday.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on steps taken by his administration in solving the pressing issues at stake.
“Let President (Muhammadu Buhari) call all of us. APC cannot do it alone, PDP will not either. Call the leaders, there are all generals in this place, General Gown, General Babangida and all of them,” he said.
“Abdusalam is there talking every time. Nigeria does not lack people. Let the President come out to see his people. Let him invite his people and discuss with them, what do we do with our country?”
Clark also backed the call for the creation of state police and restructuring of the nation, although he admitted that some states might find it difficult to pay police personnel.
He called on all Nigerian leaders to come together to address the problems facing the country, adding that should the citizens have no other country to call their own.
His remarks come five days after 17 governors of the southern region conveyed an emergency security meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The governors banned open grazing, called on President Buhari to convoke a national dialogue to address widespread agitations amongst various groups in the region.
The communiqué partly read, “At its meeting, held today, 11th May 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reviewed the situation in the nation generally and focused on the current security situation, agitations/restructuring, prospect for inter-state collaboration and partnerships as well as on the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising from the meeting, the Forum:
“Affirmed that the peoples of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economíc development and prosperity;
“Agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism;
“Recommended that in view of widespread agitations among our various peoples for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.”
Nigeria has been experiencing a series of security threats ranging from terrorism, banditry, militancy, cultism among others in several parts of the country.
The country has been battling terrorism for more than a decade which has killed 36,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the northeast.
The Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking troops and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.
Top among the issues highlighted by Clark are restructuring for a better nation and the security of the lives and properties of citizens.
Contrary to the government’s position on the war against Boko Haram insurgency, he insisted that the insurgents have not been decimated.
According to the elder statesman, there are security problems in the northern and southern parts of the country, including the activities of armed herdsmen.
“Not a single herdsman has been captured. They are moving around everywhere – both in the North and South and with the problem of insecurity in the North-West, things are not okay,” he said.
The elder statesman added, “We must put politics aside, as for the security of this country; the Federal Government cannot do it alone.
“That is why many of us are suggesting that we should have a security round-table talk. The problem in Nigeria today is not in the North alone, it’s a national problem which requires everybody to talk about it.”
He also called on the government to tackle poverty and unemployment, as well as reduce the number of out of school children in the country.
Clark added that the speech by the President ought to focus more on how to address the issue of unemployment and challenges in the education sector, where over 12 million children are said to be out of school.
According to him, the present administration has yet to record any meaningful progress in security and other areas since 2015.
The elder statesman said, “Insecurity in this country is preventing us to move forward and for four years now, we still have all the challenges we are having in the previous administration.
“Boko Haram, for instance, has not been decimated. Today, we have other various challenges like kidnapping which he (Buhari) mentioned in his address, raping of women, herdsmen problems.”
On the development of the Niger Delta, Clark insisted that the people of the region were being left with their problems.
He noted that the President acknowledged in his speech that there was pollution in the South-Southern region, stressing that the government must step up its efforts in addressing the issue.
“Those of us who come from the Niger Delta; we are being neglected,” he said, adding, “Pollution is going on, I’m happy he (Buhari) also mentioned the Ogoni clean-up.
“Ogoni is not the only place which is being polluted in the Niger Delta. No development in Niger Delta … but we remain patient in the interest of the peaceful co-existence of this country.”
Edwin Clark on Monday called on the House of Representative not to interfere in Edo State House of Assembly affairs noting that it is not their responsibility to order for its shut down.
The elder statesman while addressing journalists in Abuja stressed that it is not the duty of the lawmakers.
He also described as illegality the lawmakers asking the Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki to rescind his proclamation over the situation is the Assembly.
“It is not their duty.
“It is only the court that can interpret it (Governor Obaseki’s proclamation). Every governor has a way of writing its own proclamation.
“They should just allow the court. The case is already in court. So, whether what the governor has done through his proclamation is valid or not.
“It is not the duty of the House of Representatives to order the shutdown (of the House) within one week,” he said.
Clarke added that he will continue to speak when he sees things going wrong in the society. He also decried members of the House of Representatives for calling on Edo state governor to rescind his proclamation.
“Asking the governor to rescind the proclamation is irregular, it’s illegal and very uncalled for. It is creating more trouble.
“Those of us who have retired must speak out when something wrong is going on,” Clark said.
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark has said that leaders of the Pan-Niger Delta forum (PANDEF) endorsed Atiku Abubakar for President, because he is the only candidate that believes in restructuring Nigeria.
The former minister of information said the South-south forum agreed after due consultations that the salvation of Nigeria is in restructuring.
Clark who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said the South-south has been marginalized for too long.
He said, “We in the Niger Delta produce the resources that feed this country, but we are not participants. We are neglected, dehumanized, marginalized.”
“Instead of moving forward, we are moving backward.”
He insisted that restructuring is the only solution to the Nigeria’s survival and development, hence the endorsement of a candidate that believes in the same ideology.
Chief Clark said the about 17 presidential candidates were spoken to before the decision was taken, he said they were all questioned about their position on the issue of restructuring and Atiku’s take on the matter sufficed.
He noted that even President Muhammadu Buhari has been questioned on the same issue but says he (Buhari) does not believe in the idea of restructuring.
“Buhari said he does not believe in restructuring,” Clark said.
To drive home his point about the marginalization of his people, Chief Clark questioned the basis upon which certain appointments have been made across the nation.
“The NNPC is the engine room of the oil industry. Nine directors were appointed into NNPC board, six of these members are from the North, including the Chief of Staff. On what basis?”
He said the talks about restructuring has been on for long and nothing has been done about it to give the minorities a sense of pride, rather than be treated like second class citizens.
The elder statesman said that Atiku’s endorsement was a well thought out decision.
He said the PANDEF consulted with governors, traditional rulers and all stakeholders in the region, and they all agreed that restructuring is the way forward, hence, the reason they adopted a candidate who will go through with the restructuring of Nigeria.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the immediate disbandment of the IGP Special Tactical Squad (IGP-STS).
Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
“Senior officers attached to the erstwhile Special Tactical Squad (STS) who were linked with complicity or played conspiracy role(s) in the unauthorised, illegal and unprofessional misconduct in the search of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark’s residence in Asokoro, Abuja on the 4th of September, 2018 are now undergoing strict disciplinary procedures,” the statement said.
The dissolution of the squad was with immediate effect.
According to Moshood, the tactical operations and statutory core police duties that the dissolved squad was charged with have been collapsed.
They will be carried out by other operational, investigative and response units of the Force.
The IGP also directed that all the personnel of the squad be redeployed to other departments and formations of the Force.
The disbandment of the IGP squad followed an interview and a statement by Clark who called for a full investigation into the search of his house by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and three police inspectors.
The IGP had approved the dismissal of the inspectors while the ASP was suspended with the same punishment ‘imminent’.
Clark, however, faulted the police leadership for dismissing the three officers, saying they could not have embarked on the operation on their own.
He wondered why the officers were made “scapegoats” and alleged that the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Federal Intelligence was aware of the search of his residence.
The elder statesman asked the police authorities to admit that they made a mistake rather than saying they knew nothing about the operation.
Elder statesman, Edwin Clark, says he has accepted the apology of the Nigeria Police Force for the raid of his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.
In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, Clark thanked those who condemned the search of his home by four police officers on Tuesday.
He, however, demanded a full investigation into the incident to ensure that those involved were brought to justice.
Read Clark’s full statement below;
I have considered it necessary, at this point, to personally issue this Statement following the events which have happened in the past few days beginning with the most disturbing and embarrassing entry and search of my Abuja house by some operatives of the Nigeria Police Force.
Let me recapitulate that, on that day, that is, Tuesday, 4th September 2018, at about 12:30 pm, the Police Officers in question, from the IGP Special Tactical Squad, under the command of one Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, arrived my residence in two vehicles, one 18-seater Toyota Hiace Bus and a Toyota Hilux with registration number EU 979 ABC.
Some of them were outside the gate armed, while three of them came inside and presented to me a Warrant for Search duly issued by a Court of competent jurisdiction. As a law-abiding Citizen, a father of this Country, and a Lawyer of more than 53 years in practice, I dutifully cooperated and permitted them to carry out their official duties.
I, however, left them in no doubt of who I am and questioned if they still wanted to proceed with their official assignment of searching my entire residence for so-called stock-pile of weapons and ammunition from the Niger Delta.
The officers in question, led by ASP David Aku, diligently and painstakingly carried out their duties, for about two hours, including searching the private quarters of my wife.
I should mention that, while the search was ongoing, one of my sons, the former Federal Permanent Secretary and also former Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Ambassador Boladei Igali, who had been with me made telephone contact with one AIG Shehu, who is in charge of Intelligence in the Nigeria Police Force.
The AIG (Intelligence) spoke with the officers but did not stop them from carrying out their duties. They, however, accorded me and all members of my family and visitors present, all due courtesies and respect.
At the end of the Search, they prepared a Report on their Findings, confirming that nothing incriminating, including weapons and ammunition, were found, and that nothing was being taken away by them. This Report we all jointly signed.
Thereafter, my staff accompanied them to their Office, to obtain a copy of the Report, after they had reported to one of their principal, by name DSP Ibrahim Agu, who confirmed that the operation was official.
In the evening of the same day, the high command led by DIG Joshak Habilla, including the AIG (Legal), the FCT Police Commissioner, and two other Commissioners of Police, met with me at about 10 pm, and conveyed the apologies of the Inspector-General of Police.
They explained further that the matter would be fully investigated and appropriate action taken against all who were involved in the incidence which they described as unfortunate.
Against this backdrop, I will like to state as follows:
1. My profound gratitude to all, from far and wide, both national and international over the great show of empathy since the news came to the public domain;
2. As a father of the nation, now at the age of nearly 92 years, state that I have accepted the apology from the Police authorities, which has now been made public as I demanded;
3. State that, for the upholding of justice and fairness, the young Officers who came to my residence, must not be made scapegoats. Merely sacking the officers concerned, when they were indeed carrying out official instructions, is not enough, if we are to avert such occurrences in future.
4. The incident, must, therefore, be fully investigated and all those involved brought to book. In this respect, it is important to ascertain if a mere Report by a Taxi driver was enough to act on, how was the Warrant of search obtained from the Court same day? Why did the very senior Police Officer, whose attention was called, unable to stop the action while it was ongoing?
5. Call on all my good friends around the country, especially the youths of the Niger Delta, many of whom have expressed their great displeasure, to maintain calm, and allow the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter.
Elder statesman, Edwin Clark, on Friday faulted the police leadership for dismissing the three inspectors who raided his home.
The Ijaw leader believes the officers led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who has also been suspended, could not have embarked on the operation without the knowledge of the police authorities.
The elder statesman claimed that the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Federal Intelligence instructed the search of his home.
He wondered why the police authorities that should know the masterminds and conspirators of the invasion went after the four junior officers, whom he said were merely carrying out instructions from their superiors.
Clark explained, “While they were here doing the search, Ambassador (Boladei) Igali was here. He phoned an AIG in charge of Intelligence and the man said he wanted to speak to the boys (the policemen).
“He did, and one would have expected that if these boys were on their own he could have asked them to go back, but after that, they went on.”
The Ijaw leader stressed that no one should pretend or deceive Nigerians. He insisted that the police officers who came to his house to carry out the raid did not do it on their own.
He said it was wrong to give the impression that the Force leadership was not aware of the search, adding that the officers could not have gone to the court on their own to secure a search warrant and raid his house the same day.
On Tuesday, the ASP led the three inspectors to raid Clark’s residence in Asokoro, an action which sparked a widespread criticism across the country.
Hours later, the police said they were unaware of the search and described the raid as an “illegal and unauthorised” operation, while a team of top police officers visited the elder statesman to apologise to him.
The three inspectors were later dismissed and the ASP suspended, while the informant involved was charged to a court for giving false information and telling falsehood that misled police action.
The police have dismissed the three inspectors involved in the search of the home of elder statesman, Edwin Clark.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, approved the dismissal of the officers from the force, Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement on Thursday.
Mr Moshood explained that the inspectors – Godwin Musa, Sada Abubakar and Yabo Paul – were dismissed after they were tried under ‘Oath in Orderly Room Trial’ for discreditable conduct, illegal duty, disobedience to lawful order and “other misconduct contrary to the rule of law”.
Disciplinary action was also taken against the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), David Dominic, who the Force said led the search of Clark’s residence in Asokoro, Abuja.
Mr Moshood said Dominic was queried and is being investigated “for discreditable conduct, negligence of duty and an act unbecoming of a police officer which constitute serious misconduct.
The police said if such conduct is not checked, it can be inimical to the image of the Nigeria Police Force, adding that the raid was capable of violating “the human rights of the elder statesman as provided for in the 1999 Nigeria Constitution as amended”.
Although Dominic was not dismissed along with the inspectors, Mr Moshood did not rule out that possibility.
“The gravity of the offences against the officer is serious in nature and dismissal from service is imminent,” he said.
“Consequently, the Inspector General of Police approved that AP. No 158460 ASP David Dominic, be on interdiction from Service pending the determination of his case by the Police Service Commission.”
He also disclosed that the informant, Ismail Yakubu, has been charged to a court in the Federal Capital Territory, for giving false information and telling falsehood that misled police action.
He also said Yakubu would be arraigned in court for giving false information and telling a falsehood to mislead police action.
He explained that the police receive information from members of the public on daily basis and were promptly used to prevent and detect crimes and criminalities in the country.
Moshood, however, warned that “the Force will not condone misconducts by any of its personnel that can run contrary to the rule of law.”
“The police, therefore, has the statutory rights to execute a duly obtained search warrant in any premises where it has actionable intelligence or information that incriminating items or exhibits used to commit crime or about to be used for criminality with the aims of recovering them to prevent the commission of such crime or to detect the crime that have been committed,” he added in a statement.
The Force spokesman insisted that any officer who was to carry out the execution of a search warrant must follow the laid down procedures within the law.