The directive by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) that all security outfits established by State Governors be disbanded has pitched the PDP against the APC in Bayelsa state. OSA OKHOMINA examines the issues and attendant accusations and counter-accusations from both parties.
For anyone monitoring the political activities in Bayelsa state, the political space in the state is gripped by tension and animosity over the proposed disbandment of the state’s local security outfit known as ‘Doo-Akpo’. An outfit established by the Governor Seriake Dickson administration seven years ago.
While many in the opposition parties consider the local security officials operating with direct directives from the state government despite conventional police force, others consider them a better equipped security outfit that has been doing more to respond security challenges and protecting the people of the state.
It therefore came as a surprise to many that such outfit is caught up in controversies over planned disbandment few days to the official kickoff electioneering campaigns by political parties. It was gathered that the directive on the disbandment may have been provoked by the alleged partisan roles played by the ‘Doo-Akpor’ during the last governorship election in the state.
The Bayelsa State House of Assembly last Saturday during a special session to deliberate on the recent security concerns and cult killings in the state, had accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of being behind the incenssant redeployment of Police Commissioners in the state and the move to disband the state security outfit – Door Akpoor.
Members of the Bayelsa Assembly, who were led in the special session by the Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, said reports available to them showed that the recent cases of violent crimes in the state were deliberately provoked by some leaders of the APC ahead of 2019 elections.
A member of the Assembly representing Sagbama constituency 2, Hon. Bernard Kenebai, who moved a Motion under Matters of Public Importance, said the recent violence and wave of crimes witnessed in the state capital was prompted by some leaders of the APC.
“This is arising from deliberate and exclusively by the opposition through incessant posting of Commissioner of Police with ultimate intention of sabotaging the security architecture of the state,” he said.
Kenebai, who is a former Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Security, also alleged that the state security, which has been in existence for seven years, is being penciled down for a ban by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, under the guidance of the state APC leaders.
“All these actions are a deliberate attempt to usurp the security of the state and the power of the state governor. It is abnormal and initiated by the APC to destabilise the state. Bayelsans need to rise up and resist the evil plan of the opposition party,” he added.
Other members of the State Assembly, who contributed to debate on the Motion, including the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Abraham Ngobere (Brass 3), Hon. Tonye Isena (Kolga 1), Hon.Mietema Obodo (Ogbia 1),Hon. Ben Ololo (Nembe 1), Hon. Monday Ogbilo-Bubor (SILGA 2), Hon. Princess Ingo Iwowari-Gold(Nembe 2), Hon. Obiowo Koku-Obiya (YEN 2), Hon. Salo Adiekumo (Sagbama 3) and Hon. Omonibeke Kemelayefa (Ekeremor 2), all condemned the alleged denigration of the state’s local security apparatus by the opposition party leaders.
The State Assembly, after exhaustive deliberations, however adopted three Motions calling on the state governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, to stem the tide of impunity as seen in the incessant redeployment of Police Commissioners in the state even as it called on the Inspector-General of Police to disregard the calls for the disbandment of the state security outfit – Door Akpoor.
The Bayelsa Assembly also called on the members of the National Assembly from the state to bring up the concerns expressed over the upsurge in insecurity in the state on the floors of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa Assembly Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, in his summation expressed disappointment over the alleged involvement of the former state governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, in the plot to destabilise the state.
According to the speaker, “why is it now that they will be changing Commissioners of Police? Why would they set the state ablaze because of politics? We would not accept such shameful acts.”
Also backing up the stance of the State House of Assembly, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in state strongly warned against a surreptitious plot to disband the state’s special security outfit – Operation Doo-Akpo.
The party said that the Bayelsa citizenry was worried about the alleged move because of its grave implications on the security and stability of the state.
PDP state chairman, Cleopass Moses, called on the Inspector-General of Police to resist the antics of mischief to avoid the decision which he described as anti-security.
He said that some APC chieftains who are desperate to create a non-existent atmosphere of insecurity with the intent to discredit the state government were behind the move to disband the Operation Doo Akpo.
Moses said since its establishment, Operation Doo-Akpo has effectively reduced the rate of crime in the state and ha exhibited the highest level of professionalism and respect for the citizenry.
He stated that in the past, the previous state government had set up a similar security outfit, Operation Famou Tangbe, which became the nightmare of Bayelsans as it engaged in extra-judicial killings and other forms of human rights abuses.
“Before the government of Rt. Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson came on board in 2012 there was Operation Famou Tangbe which in our local parlance means ‘Kill And Throw Away’. They were involved in a lot of atrocities and because the restoration government wanted peace, it introduced Operation Doo-Akpo.
“Since Doo-Akpo was formed, it has brought peace. They carry out their activities with so much professionalism and to think that anyone will wake up to hatch a plan for their disbandment is the height of insensitivity. We hope it is not true and we call on the Inspector-General of Police not to listen to those promoting the evil plot,” Moses added.
The Bayelsa Elders have also kicked against the plan by the Inspector-General of Police to disband the state security, describing the plan as unpatriotic and an attempt to undermine the existing peace in the state.
The Bayelsa Elders under the aegis of the Forum of Restoration Caucus Chairmen, noted that though the people of the state are aware that the recent upsurge in violence was provoked by members of the opposition parties to discredit the existing state security architecture, the operation Doo-Akpor is responsible for the seizure of arms and ammunition being brought into the state allegedly by the opposition and maintaining the sustainable peace being enjoyed in the state.
The Forum of Restoration Caucus Chairmen made up of the chairman, Chief T. K. O Okorotie (Ekeremor), Chief Francis Doukpoula( Sagbama), Chief Godwin Odumgba (Yenagoa), Dr. George Fente (Nembe), Chief Victor Sam-Ateke (Brass) , Hon.Talford Ongolo (Southern Ijaw), Chief George Ero Okrinya (Ogbia) and Mr. Isaac Kumoko (Kolokuma/Opokuma), stated during a media briefing held in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, that the people of the state have resolved to reject the calls for the disbandment of the Door Akpoor.
According to them, “the Forum is aware that there are subterranean moves by some elements in the leadership of the opposition to persuade the Inspector General of Police to disband Doo-Akpor in the state. After our meeting, we resolved to reject this unpatriotic move in very strong terms.”
“Upon inauguration, Governor Seriake Dickson requested for the establishment of Doo-Akpor to stem the terrible state of insecurity that prevailed throughout the state at the time. The operatives of Doo-Akpor are members of the Nigerian Police Force but the outfit is largely funded by the State Government as parts of the assistance the State Government gives to other security agencies in the state.
“it is common knowledge that Doo-Akpor’s operation have significantly ensured the sustainable peace that is being enjoyed by the good people of the State and indeed the nation as a whole. The Doo-Akpor has operated with human face unlike the previous establishment of this nature by switfly intervening in emerging crisis situations for peace”
“Doo-Akpor has operated with neutrality and fairness to all sides of any conflict with efficiency in the state capital and the eight local government areas. The establishment has achieved unprecedented reach to rural area and far flung communities,” the forum said.
The statement read by the chairman, Chief T. K. Okorotie, also claimed that the recent conduct of a stop and search operations by the operatives of Doo-Akpor has recorded the cases of seizure of arms and ammunition from some vehicles in the state capital.
“This criminal elements are being sponsored by the opposition parties who have been busy importing arms and ammunition which are being distributed to all part of the State. “
“Their (opposition parties) plan is to perpetuate violence in the forth coming elections. We are aware that it is the leadership of these parties in the state whose followersgip has completely depleted that are making these evil moves. Their aim is to render the State ungovernable. These elements should be reminded of the promise of President Muhammad Buhari to ensure that the forth coming campaigns and the general elections are peaceful, transparent and credible,” they added.
But in a swift response to the accusations, the state chapter of the APC described as “deliberate and unnecessary insult” the claims by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly against the party over alleged involvement in the recent multiple postings of State Commissioners of Police, saying that the accusation was a “deliberate and unnecessary insult”.
Also speaking on the issue, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, dissociated himself from the alleged posting of State Commissioners of Police in the state, describing the allegation as spurious and unfounded.
The Bayelsa chapter of the APC in a statement few days ago by its Publicity Secetary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, said that the resolution of the State House of Assembly accusing the party of complicity in the posting of State Police Commissioner showed that the Assembly was mischievously opposing a constitutional security arrangement simply because it denied them the room to repeat the electoral fraud they perpetrated to win the last governorship election in the state.
According to the statement, “The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State unreservedly condemns the resolution of the State House of Assembly concerning the posting of Police Commissioners to the State. It is a deliberate and unnecessary insult to our collective intelligence.”
“By this resolution, the state assembly has shown its complete lack of legislative independence and respect for the rule of law. The assembly has once again proved to be a poodle of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson. We note that this resolution is coming only a few days after Governor Dickson expressed similar sentiments at a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) event. The PDP National Publicity Secretary raised these same concerns recently.”
“To begin with, matters about police affairs are on the Exclusive List. They are federal matters on which a state House of Assembly cannot legislate. It lacks the jurisdiction. The APC has tremendous respect for the police as a creation of our Constitution and would never read political meanings to its decision to move its own officers. We have had several Commissioners of Police in the state, including a personal friend of Dickson and PDP member who had earlier worked as Commander of his Operation Doo Akpo, Dickson’s private terror police.
“Is the PDP on its deathbed now so nervous that they are telling us only a police commissioner pliable to them must serve the state? Are they again so bent on using their terror police to compromise the 2019 elections, as they did during the last governorship elections, that they do not want the police to disband it if need be? This is an assault on our democracy.
“Where was the voice of this House of Assembly during the serial killings in Brass, Amassoma, Yenagoa, others? Why has this assembly maintained an ungodly silence on the mass hunger in the state? Why has this assembly kept silent as Governor Dickson misgoverns Bayelsa State, and turns the abuse of APC leaders, particularly Chief Timipre Sylva and Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, to state policy?
“This rascally mood swing by the State House of Assembly, from Dickson-induced lethargy and fatigue on the security and welfare of the people, to sudden surge of adverse energy, when it concerns democratic institutions and values, is an ill wind. We will not allow it in Bayelsa State. This is more so as we all now know better Dickson’s strategy of crying wolf as dress rehearsal for intended evil,” APC said.
For his part, Senator Lokpobiri in a statement issued and signed by his media Aide, Mr. George Oji, denied any involvement in the alleged re-deployment of Police Commissioners in the state.
According to the statement, “the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has recently been engaged in a binge of complaints and spurious allegations over what the party described as frequent change of police commissioners in Bayelsa State. While the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) is not in any way perturbed about this needless cry of wolf by the opposition party,”
“The question APC continues to pose is, why is PDP jittery and unsettled over what is otherwise a purely security matter and seeking to score cheap political point out of the issue. Perhaps the only way to explain the action of PDP is to say that the party is already aware of the electoral failure that awaits it in the coming polls in Bayelsa State come next year, and therefore has decided ahead of time, to concoct excuses to justify its coming electoral doom.
“On his part, the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, is appalled that some unscrupulous politicians and elected political office holders in Bayelsa State instead of facing the serious issues of governance, go about maliciously associating his person with the postings going on in the police force. For the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable minister wishes to remind these rumour mongers that it is entirely the prerogative of the Inspector General of Police to deal with all matters concerning the posting of senior police officers in the force.
“The Minister is most shocked with Governor Seriake Dickson who as a former police constable ought to be familiar with the fact and practice that the posting of Commissioners of Police to the States are purely the responsibility and prerogative of the Inspector General of Police,” he said.
According to Lokpobiri, if the complaint of PDP is that in the past three months, 8 Commissioners of Police have been posted to Bayelsa State, (even though there are conflicting figures to that effect), that was the decision of the police authorities.
“While maintaining that the issue of the number of Police Commissioners that are posted to Bayelsa is inconsequential, the Honourable Minister insists that he is not in any way concerned with who is, or is not posted to Bayelsa State as the Police Commissioner.
“On the allegation that the police is targeting the disbandment of the state Dou-akpo security outfit, the Hon Minister reminded the rumour mongers about the recent directive of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to all the security chiefs in the country to immediately disband all illegal and unauthorised security outfits,” he added.
According to Lokpobiri, “if there is a directive from the office of the NSA saying that all illegal security outfits should be disbanded and anybody has any complaints against such directives, the person is at liberty to refer their concerns to the appropriate office, in this case, the office of the NSA, not to blame it on the Minister. He regretted that the operation Dou-akpo is an illegal security outfit that is being used by the Bayelsa State Governement, not for the maintenance of law and order, but to unleash terror on members of the opposition political parties, including the APC in Bayelsa State, stressing that if the ruling PDP are not planning any crime, they should not have any fears, but that they should be rest assured that if they are planning to commit any crime, they should know that they are going to be held accountable for their action.”
According to Lokpobiri, “we recalled that the immediate past Commissioner of Police in the State, Ebere Onyeagoro, before the current one Joseph Muoka, was the commander of operation Dou-akpo, when he was an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa. He reasoned that by complaining about the redeployment of Onyeagoro out of the state, Dickson logically implied that the Police Commissioner was in very good friend of his, which by extension meantthat the police chief was a friend of the PDP in the state.”
“Finally, we counselled the PDP bigots to allow the Police to do their job, including the deployment and redeployment of the Commissioners of Police, not only in Bayelsa but the whole of the country,” Lokpobiri said.