The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Pulo (Oil) Shield, has arrested six persons with arms and ammunition in Rivers State, with sources indicating that the suspects are political opponents of Governor Rotimi Amaechi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The Spokesman of the JTF, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, last night, confirmed the arrest, but insisted that the suspects were picked for illegal possession of firearms and not for political reason.
Nwachukwu said: “As at 3rd January six suspects with arms were arrested during a routine patrol at Ogu community in Ogu/Bolo LGA (of Rivers State). Items recovered were: 7 x AK-47, 164 rounds of ammunition and six locally made canon launchers.
“Suspects were handed over to the Nigeria Police yesterday (Friday). They were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and not for any reason of political or social affiliation as being wrongly insinuated.”
The Rivers Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ahmad Muhammad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), when contacted at 8:12 pm yesterday, said of the suspects’ handover to the police by the JTF: “I have not been briefed of such handover, for now.”
A source in Port Harcourt stated that the suspects were associates of Senator George Sekibo, who represents Rivers East Senatorial District and the self-acclaimed Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, the representative of Ogu/Bolo constituency, who are allies of the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience.
The source said: “On January 3rd, members of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) arrested six youths around Ekporo Road, on their way to Ogu in Ogu/Bolo LGA of Rivers State. They were in an off white Land Rover jeep, with registration number JJ 441 BZ. The youths were arrested based on their suspicious movement.
“Those arrested gave their names as Sunday Elisha, Uche Jenikachi, Ibinabo Lawson, Okechukwu Okoro, Jerry Tonye and Daniel Ibito-Anga, who parades himself and his known in Ogu/Bolo as Security Adviser/Personal Assiatant to both Senator George Sekibo and Evans Bipi.
“Both Senator Sekibo and Evans Bipi are from Ogu and are known and have confessed publicly to be extremely close associates of the Nigerian First Lady, Patience Jonathan, who hails from nearby Okrika and they all speak the same native Okrika dialect.
“As a matter of fact, Evans Bipi was a domestic aide of Mrs. Jonathan before he was elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly in 2011. Senator Sekibo, who nurses a governorship ambition in 2015, is hoping to ride into Rivers State Government House on the back of Mrs. Jonathan.
All of them are also known publicly to be fighting the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.”
While also corroborating that arms and ammunition recovery from the suspects by the JTF, the sources said: “Found in the possession of the boys and recovered from them were 7 AK-47 assorted riffles, 146 rounds of 7.62 mm special life ammunition and 10 life magazines, among others.
“After their arrest, they were taken by the JTF team to Bori Camp, the military base in Port Harcourt. The boys have been handed over to the police in Rivers State. The police in the state are headed by the Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, who is said to have been brought to head the State Police Command by Mrs. Jonathan. Mbu has been accused of taking directives from Mrs. Jonathan and her associates.
“Only recently, the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, raised the alarm that arms, ammunition and weapons are being brought into the state (Rivers) by those opposed to his administration, ahead of the next general elections.”
It will be recalled that Amaechi, President Jonathan, Dame Patience, and most leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers state had been at loggerheads over the scheming for 2015 and worsened with the NGF chairman’s defection to the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).