Saraki, Ezeife, PANDEF, others condemn raid
The inspector general of police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the arrests and detention of four police men who, on Tuesday, raided the Abuja residence of a foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark over allegations of stockpiling arms and ammunition in his home for the Niger Delta militants.
The police team led by one Kolo Yusuf was said to have been deployed from the ‘Special Tactical Force’ (STF) based in Guzape, a squad that reports directly to the inspector-general of police at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
It was learned that three of the policemen, who were heavily armed, waited outside the house, while three others entered the house to conduct the search.
It was also gathered that on arrival, the police asked for Clark’s personal secretary, Ms, Dorothy Koko, who had gone to the bank.
They were said to have insisted that they must see her and it was at that time a call was reportedly put through to her to come back to the office, which she did immediately.
A source said when Koko returned, the policemen asked her to open her office which they searched and, thereafter, proceeded to her bedroom and toilet to search, even as the rooms were turned upside down.
The police who arrived around 1.30pm and left the premises about 2.30pm were said to have searched every room in the posh mansion for arm allegedly kept in the house.
At the end of the search, it was gathered that they found no incriminating thing in the house.
The police public relations officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood said in a statement that the raid was not ordered by the IGP.
Jimoh also said the police will investigate the incident, adding that the Force would not condone any form of misconduct by its personnel.
“The Force wishes to categorically state that the Inspector General of Police is not aware and did not order the raid of the residence of the Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark as claimed by the writer of the story,” Moshood said.
“Consequently, the inspector general of police has directed the detention and investigation of the four police personnel and the informant involved. The outcome of the investigation will definitely be made public.
“Notwithstanding, the facts that on daily basis the Nigeria Police Force across the Country receives information from members of the public which were promptly used to prevent and detect crimes and criminalities, the Force will not condone misconduct by any of its personnel that can run contrary to the rule of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Clark said the incident was connected with his recent criticisms of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
“I believe because of the various meetings we’ve been holding about the state of the nation, otherwise why would they expect, (I am not in Delta where I come from) that militants will come to keep ammunition in my house? No sensible man will think that a 92-year-old man in Abuja, will be keeping ammunition in his house to fight the government; overthrow the government. This is ridiculous, shameful.
“I am not saying that people don’t keep arms, but I am not that kind of person. I speak my mind on issues affecting this country; I believe in advocacy, I believe in peace. When our boys, calling themselves Avengers and so on, vandalized pipelines, I formed an organization known as Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).
“I started PANDEF on the 19th of August 2016 to advice the youth who were vandalizing pipelines, to stop them from vandalizing pipelines.
“Oil production in Nigeria, which had gone down low, has increased to over two million, everybody knows that. I have led meetings with Mr. President, with our people, I led a 100 traditional rulers, politicians, past governors to meet with the President on November 1, 2016.
“Since then, there have been peace in the Niger Delta; oil production has increased. Is that why I should be treated like this?
“I was looking for peace, but nobody can stop me from speaking my mind or associating with people to see that there is good governance in this country.
“It is dangerous that we are moving into a police state. What worries me is that those who are surrounding Mr. President, I do not think they wish him well with the way they are going. President Buhari is the President of the whole Nigeria, not one part of this country.
“When you are 70 and above, you are at the Lounge, waiting for your boarding pass. I have gotten my boarding pass, but God has delayed it. Nobody can do me anything. I will speak my mind on anything that is unjust in this country, against injustice, against oppression, discrimination, religious bigotry, ethnicity. I will speak against anything that will affect the unity of this country, peace, peaceful existence of this country,” he said.
In his reaction, the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki called for a probe of the raid which he described as “unwarranted harassment of the statesman.”
He said the incident should not be closed without the public knowing all the details, particularly concerning who gave the order, who signed the police search warrant, which officers executed it and what objective it was meant to serve.
He said: “Chief Edwin Clark, a 2nd Republic Senator, former minister under the General Gowon administration is not just anybody. Yes, he is not above the law. If there is a genuine reason for his home to be searched by law enforcement agencies, nobody will object to it. However, as it now appears, for the Police to conduct a raid on the home of a man of that age on the pretence that they were looking for arms and eventually, the claim turned out to be a hoax, then something must be amiss.
“This type of action by the Police coming at this time when the nation is preparing for election is not reflecting well on the country. Such actions constitute a threat to democracy. They represent gross abuse of state institutions. Now that the Inspector General of Police has denied that the raid was never authorized, the next move should be a thorough, transparent investigation into the Senator Edwin Clark incident to prevent future occurrence.
“This kind of ugly development must stop. This country experienced peaceful change in 2015 because the government in power allowed democracy to work. If the government had allowed the flagrant abuse and misuse of state institutions to be the norm, we would not have had the change that occurred.
“Democracy is not only about elections. Circumstances that will create tension in any part of the country or make people feel that their fundamental human rights are being trampled upon should be avoided. If a man of the calibre and status of Senator Edwin Clark could suffer such unwarranted raid on his home, then what happens to ordinary Nigerians as we move towards the 2019 polls and beyond?”
Reacting to the development, the former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, condemned the police action describing it as “sad” and “unfortunate”.
Ezeife who prayed God to touch the hearts of those leading the affairs of Nigeria said: “I am shocked, I have just entered here, Edwin Clark’s residence, and I was told that the police were just leaving, that they came here to search for arms and they were here for two hours.
“This man, Edwin Clark, is now the leader of Nigerian elders’ forum. Recently somehow through the confidence they have in him, the Northern Elders Forum joined the South and Middle Belt, we had everything just a few days ago.
“This is not done to Edwin Clark alone, but the whole of us, let God touch the minds of our people who are leading us.”
It its reaction, PANDEF condemned the action and described it as an “unwarranted invasion.”
The national secretary of PANDEF, Dr. Alfred Mulade, said the police allegation of stockpiling arms was unfounded adding that the siege to the elder statesman’s home “is barbaric act tantamount to state terrorism and total disregard for Clark’s fundamental human rights and complete disregard for established traditional respect for age and national service.”
Also reacting, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide (IYCW) said the raid “is dangerous to democracy.”
“This is dangerous for our democracy. Nigeria is heading to the cliff. Relevant stakeholders need to rise in defence of our hard earned democracy. President Buhari should call his overbearing security agencies to order before they plunge the Country into an unmitigated crisis.
“There can be no democracy where there is no dissenting voices. Mr. President should accept that our democracy cannot exist without opposition elements to his government. Chief Clarke who is an elder statesman, his views on national issues need to be appreciated by the Government of the day instead of being witch hunted (sic),” said the president of IYCW, Barr. Oweilaemi Pereotubor.