Chief Gani Topba, the National Coordinator of Conscience of Ogoni People, COOP, has said the statement by Governor Nyesom Wike where he threatened to dethrone the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, King T.J.T Princewill is unwarranted.
Togba in a letter to Wike said the statement is unbecoming of the exalted office as Governor of Rivers State due to its proclivity for divisiveness, insecurity and instability of the State.
“As a foremost Ogoni and Niger Delta rights advocacy organisation, we find it unacceptable that Your Excellency would deliberately set out on a mission to cause division among the various tribes of Rivers State through your ill-advised utterances against the Kalabari Leaders when they paid you a solidarity visit in Government House on Thursday 12 December 2019 and the security agencies, in particular, the Nigerian Army – statements you clearly made out of deep-seated frustration at your inability to unlawfully acquire OML 25 through the active support of Mr Igo Weli.
“First, in your inciting and provocative statement, Your Excellency exhibited unrestrained insolence while addressing the respected Kings and Leaders of the Kalabari people by asking them to call their King, Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King T.J.T. Princewill, Amachree XI to order for an alleged breach of protocol by accepting the visit of an illustrious Ijaw son to his Kingdom. You incited the Kalabari Kings and leaders against a respected son of the Ijaw nation, His Excellency, Hon. (Barr) Henry Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State by pressurizing them to block his visit to the Kalabari Kingdom. You equally castigated the revered Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King T.J.T. Princewill, Amachree XI, and insolently threatened to discipline the natural ruler of the great Kalabari Kingdom before his subjects.
“By your uncouth utterances, you attempted to reduce the office of the Amayanabo of Kalabari to the status of a mere warrant chief that can be recognized and derecognized at your whims and caprices, without recourse to the customs and traditions of the people who made him King. We want you to remember that just recently, a reception was organized to honour you by your own people – Ogbakor Ikwerre socio-cultural organization which was held without any other tribe rolling the drums of war as you did in the Kalabari case.
“We are yet to recover from the arrogance you displayed at the said reception at the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic when, in response to the obvious truth of the lopsidedness of the projects and developments undertaken by your administration in Rivers State which are concentrated within the perimeters of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas (Ikwerreland), you boasted that if you had your way you would have done ten. You did not stop there. You took the abuse of other tribes in Rivers State to an abysmal proportion when you told the long-suffering and bewildered people of Rivers State, ‘NTOOORRRR!’ (implying that the one-sided development of Ikwerreland and the complete neglect of the other tribes serves the complaining Rivers population right). You told us to our faces as Rivers people that we cannot do anything.
“Second, you lambasted the President and Founder of BelemaOil Producing Limited (BPL), Engr. Jack-Rich Tein Jr., for donating a multi-billion naira engineering faculty block, Students’ hostel block and for providing potable drinking water to Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State. We are still in shock as to why Your Excellency is opposed to the donation made for the advancement of security in Nigeria as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility – a donation which will help in training officers who will secure lives and property of Nigerians. This is even more shocking, given your much-publicised support to the security agencies in the State. We do not know what axe you have to grind with the security architecture and operatives of the country.
“Third, we find it most shocking that Your Excellency will incite the Niger Delta people against the President and Founder of BelemaOil Producing Limited by claiming that the company executed a multi-billion naira project in the northern part of Nigeria with nothing to show back at home. In doing this, you tried unsuccessfully to change the narrative of the good and socially responsible attribute of the company which is known for always giving back to the society, in particular, the Host Communities. In terms of corporate social responsibility, the BelemaOil Producing Limited model is now the most sought after template in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. However, you conveniently chose to forget to mention the thousands of jobs the company has created both directly and indirectly for the teeming youths of the Niger Delta, the scholarships awarded to indigent Niger Delta students annually, the infrastructures delivered to countless communities and the huge taxes paid to the Federal, State and Local Governments. It is, however, gratifying that Niger Delta people know the truth. They have enjoyed the benevolence of BelemaOil Producing Limited and are aware that you do not mean well for the Niger Delta region. It is on record that you teamed up with SPDC to sabotage the interest of the OML 25 Host Communities and actually offered SPDC all the support needed to dislodge the Host communities. It was only through the timely intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR that your ambition was crushed and peace was finally restored to the communities.
“Fourth, your attack on the security apparatuses in Nigeria, in particular officers and men of the Nigerian Army as well as other security agencies has reached an unacceptable proportion. It is disappointing that Your Excellency as Chief Security Officer of the State who should better appreciate the enormous sacrifices the security agencies are making daily to maintain peace and security in the country, most times at huge costs to their lives, are being insulted. We urge you to take a few moments and reflect on the role the men of 6 Division played, in collaboration with sister security agencies, to successfully dislodge the criminal elements that held Ogoniland and the entire Rivers State under siege for the greater part of 2019 which ensured that the sacked communities returned to their various homes. Your Excellency Sir, we are worried that these ceaseless attacks on these patriotic and gallant officers, if left unchecked, will dangerously lower their morale and commitment towards putting their lives on the line for the security of persons and property not only in Rivers State but also in Nigeria at large. Our fear is grounded in the fact that ordinary Rivers people who do not move with escorts will be put at grave risk should the security agencies react to these uncomplimentary remarks about their professionalism and sacrifices, especially when it is obvious that there are no human rights issues arising from the conduct of their operations.
“Fifth, you have shown unrestrained hatred and disrespect for both the person and office of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. Apart from purporting to arrogate to yourself the constitutional powers of the President, you have on numerous occasions incited the Niger Delta people against him. We urge you to reflect a moment on the sacrifices the President is making to restore peace in the Niger Delta region, as exemplified by the recent historic peace accord which was signed between SPDC and the Host Communities of OML 25.
“Sixth, your open acknowledgement that OML 25 oil wells are in Bayelsa State as per the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria more than anything else vindicates our long-held position that you do not have the power to meddle into OML 25 matters. Now that it appears the scales have fallen off your eyes, we enjoin you to first return to the Supreme Court of Nigeria as you said in order to set aside the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria. Until that is done, we hold the view that as the protagonist of the annexation of Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje communities to Bayelsa State, you no longer have the moral high ground to seek to benefit from the resources of communities in another State.
“On the strength of the above clarifications, we suggest to you, very strongly the following courses of action:
That your Excellency should tender an unreserved apology to not only the Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King T.J.T. Princewill, Amachree XI for the humiliation caused him but also the entire Kalabari people for desecration of the revered stool of their ancient Kingdom and to refrain from such unwarranted transfer of aggression on elders you should ordinarily respect in accordance with the character of Rivers people.
“That your Excellency should tender an unreserved apology to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. T.Y. Buratai, as well as other sister security agencies for unwarranted attacks launched against their persons and the security formations under their commands.
“We have written this piece in the belief that you will listen to the voice of reason and retrace your steps for the good of the State. If you do not heed our honest and friendly advice, we shall initiate an international campaign against you. We shall showcase your poor human rights records and gross violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in and 25 and urge the international community to blacklist you as a security threat.
Let wise counsel prevail, please!”