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My House Was Ransacked By Troops Over Delta Killings – Edwin Clark

“Again, I call on the various state actors to let me live in peace, and treat me with the kind of respect that I deserve, having served this country, and still serving even at the age of 97 years, until when it will please the Almighty God to call me home.”

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Prominent Ijaw leader and elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark on Tuesday raised the alarm over threat to his life following recent invasion of his country home in Kiagbodo Delta State by officers of the Nigerian Army.

He warned of serious consequences in the country if he dies in the hands of some overzealous state actors.

Clark, 97 and First Republic federal Information Commissioner, told newsmen at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday how his country home in Kiagbodo, was invaded by officers of the Nigerian Army on Saturday March 23, 2024.

The invasion took place few days after he featured on ARISE Newsnight on the killing of 17 soldiers in Okuama community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.

According to him, “At about 6pm on Saturday, 23rd March, 2024, I got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as the commanding officer Nigerian Army Division in Port Harcourt. He said that a tracker of the Nigerian Army, had tracked one Mr. Vote, the community chairman of Okuama Community, whom the Army was looking for in respect of the killings of the 17 men of the Nigerian Army, to a house in Ughelli; and that the military men had broken into the house, ransacked it, before they were informed that the house belongs to me, that he was very sorry and apologising to me on behalf of the Army.

“In my usual way and as a leader who is expected to condone as much as possible, I accepted his apology wholeheartedly, but told him that I do not own a house in Ughelli, that the house he is referring to, could be my father’s.

“I went on to sympathise with the Nigerian Army over the gruesome murder of the soldier, an action I had condemned severally the moment I heard of it in the news.

“I assured him that we will all work within our powers to avail the security agencies with any available information that would unravel the whole thing and bring the perpetrators to book. We ended the discussion on a cordial note.

“It was not long after that, I was inundated with calls from my home, Kiagbodo, telling me how the army had invaded my country home by land and by air. That they came in about 5 trucks loaded with armed soldiers numbering between 30 and 40.

“They invaded my house, used their legs to break open all the doors in the compound including the security door to my sitting room which was locked because I reside in Abuja.

“At the same time, flying their drone within the premises. Some of them went to the buildings behind the main house, and also broke all the doors that were locked. They marched out my staff living in those buildings, including lecturers at the university; made them to sit on the bare ground.

“They also broke into my late brother, Ambassador Akporode Blessing Clark’s house; a man who served this country internationally in various capacities, including as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; as both of us share the same premises.

“They brought out his son almost naked, as the young man was taking a bath, when they stormed the house.

“All their phones were seized. The people had to identify themselves, and told them whose house it was, before they asked for my telephone number, which they said they will pass to their “oga”’, before they all departed.

“One would have expected that at this juncture, a call could have been put to the Governor of Delta State, to inform him of what happened.

“I immediately called back the commanding officer to tell him of the actions of his men. And he said he was aware, and that was why he called to apologise. Before continuing, let me play the devil’s advocate by stating that the army may not know that the house they went to in Kiagbodo is my country home.

“But I feel very uncomfortable to conclude this recent incident with such theory, when I recall how men of the Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Office of the Inspector General of Police, on 4th September, 2018, at about 12 noon, stormed my house in Abuja with a bus load, fully armed.

“They came with a Search Warrant from a Magistrate Court in Abuja, bearing Mrs. Helen Clark, but with the address of my house on it, that they had come to search the house; that they had information that arms from the Niger Delta were being stockpiled there. I identified myself, and told them that there was no one named Helen Clark, living with me in the house.

“I spoke with the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations. But they insisted on carrying out their search. With a very clear conscience, I allowed them to go ahead with their mission. They took their time to search every space in the compound, including my bedroom, but found nothing incriminating. They wrote their report to that effect. I asked to be given a copy of the report, but the men who came for the search informed me that a copy can only be given to me if I went to their office.

“I detailed two persons to accompany them to their office, but they refused to give them the copy. I was told that I had to apply formally. I asked my lawyer to apply, which he did, till date, I do not have a copy of that report.

“The incident attracted a lot of attention locally and internationally. Dignitaries from everywhere trooped to my house to sympathise with me. Some of them were former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR; former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa then Governor of Delta State; Governor Seriake Dickson, then Governor of Bayelsa State; the then government of Akwa Ibom State sent a delegation of six Senators; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Chief John Nnia Nwodo, then President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo; Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President General, Middlebelt Forum, and a host of others, including a journalist who called from France, asking about the incident.

“On the evening of the Police search which was seen in some quarters as life threatening, tensions started brewing among the youths who had already started protesting in the streets, especially in the Niger Delta region.

“The then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, dispatched a high powered delegation, of four top Police officers, led by a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, to come apologise to me, stating that the police officers who came to carry out the operation, were on an illegal assignment. I refused to bite that bait. There is no way the young officers would have gone to a Magistrate Court to procure a Search Warrant, to come search my house for arms. But I accepted the apology for the sake of peace, as the nation, especially the South-South region was already agitating.

“However, the condition I gave them was that the young officers who came to do a ‘job’ officially assigned to them, should not be touched.

“Now, few days ago, on Saturday 23rd March, 2024, another set of state actors, this time the Army, invaded my country home, by land and air, breaking into my house that was securely locked.

This has gone beyond coincidence and is giving me a source of concern.

“By God’s grace I am one of the oldest men in this country today. On May 25, I will be 97 years, God keeping me alive. In about seven decades of my life, I have served this nation meritoriously in different capacities. I have served in the same cabinet with persons who later became Heads of State and Presidents, both as military and civilian.

“On military side, I had become quite acquainted with many military officers. These include Admiral J. E. A. Wey, General David Ejoor, General Hassan Usman Katsina, General Gibson Jallo, Major-General Shehu Yar’Adua, while he was a Captain; General Abdulsalam Abubakar while he was a Captain; Colonel Mike Okwechime, Colonel Trimnel, Colonel Nzefili, Colonel Conrad Nwawo, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle; Major-General IBM Haruna, Major-General Ike Nwachukwu while he was a Captain, General Charles Ndiomu, also a Captain at the time; Brigadier-General Godwin Alabi-Isama; General I. B. Bisalla; Major-General Paul Tarfa; Major-General Emmanuel Abisoye, Major-General James Oluleye.

“I served with some of these persons in various cabinets, both at the State and Federal levels. As God would have it, many of them have passed on, those of us still alive, have continued to work assiduously to improve the socio-economic well-being of our country men.

“I make this introduction to let the present-day state actors that most of them who are authorizing disrespectful and unlawful conducts against me today, were probably young men or may not even have been born, when I was interacting with officers who are their superiors by far. In politics, I later also became a distinguished senator of the second republic of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I deserve to be respected, left to live in peace, safety and tranquility.

“I have very high regard for the Nigerian Army. I used to attend most of its ceremonies at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). Three of my brothers retired as top military officers; Maj. Gen H. U. Clark, Col. Peter Clark and Col Bernard Clark. Two of them, unfortunately, have passed on, namely H. U. Clark and Bernard Clark. Incidentally, Bernard Clark was buried the same week the sad incidence of the gruesome murder of the 17 soldiers happened.

“My last discussion with Lt. Col. Ali, was in respect of according Bernard Clark the usual military ceremonial burial. Lt. Col. Ali told me he was going to call me back later in the day. Unfortunately, that call never came as he was amongst the soldiers gruesomely murdered.

“I want to end this write up to all concerned with what I told President Muhammadu Buhari, when my security details were withdrawn that if I die today as a result of natural occurrence, it will be a joyful celebration.

“But if my death is linked to any dubious means by some overzealous state actors, no one can tell how far the fire will rage. This is not a threat. It is an acknowledgment of God’s mercies on me. Having said that, I want to appreciate the enormous responsibility on the shoulders of the Nigerian Army, who are burdened with so much internal security issues. And it is for that reason I want to use this medium to kindly appeal to all concerned to work assiduously to unravel what happened and bring the perpetrators to book.

“The earlier this matter is concluded the better, as it will also avail the affected communities which are almost locked down today, without adequate food and water, the chance of returning to normal life. I also wish to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his efforts in combatting the ravaging security issues in the land, especially as it concerns the release of some of the abducted children in Kaduna State. I implore all of us to give him the necessary cooperation. This is the only country that we have.

“Again, I call on the various state actors to let me live in peace, and treat me with the kind of respect that I deserve, having served this country, and still serving even at the age of 97 years, until when it will please the Almighty God to call me home.”

Meanwhile, A member of the House of Representatives Hon.Rodney Ebikebina Ambaiowei representing Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State has condemned the killing of 16 officers and other ranks of the Nigerian Army NA in Okuama Delta State along with some civilian casualties by unidentified gunmen on March 14, 2024.

He condemned the killing at a media briefing at the House of Representatives Press Corps National Assembly on Tuesday saying that the security agencies should do proper intelligence gathering and go after the killers of this dastardly act

The lawmaker said that the cold blooded murder of military personnel at Okuama Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State on the 14th March, 2024 is a great national tragedy.

According to him, it has become imperative and compelling for him to lend his voice in condemning an event which is uncalled for and avoidable loss of lives of Nigerians on the side of the Nigerian Military and the communities affected in Ughelli South and Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency.

He further said that there is no gainsaying that the gruesome and unprovoked murder of sixteen officers and men of the Nigerian army consisting of a Lieutenant Colonel, two majors, a captain and twelve other men of the military by criminals in Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State is one of the worse things to have happened to our gallant soldiers in recent history.

He therefore condole with the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Nigerian Armed Forces, the families of these fallen heroes and the good people of Nigeria.

He expressed worries on the senseless murder of these officers who were said to be on their line of duty at Okuama, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State which event spilled into Igbomotoru, a hitherto peaceful community in his constituency

He further lamented that the mayhem of Southern Ijaw which is more than one hundred and fifty nautical kilometres from Okuama and in less than twenty-four hours spilled into Igbomotoru- in his federal constituency.

He said: “This led to the invasion of the once serene community by men said to be of the military in search of the perpetrators of the heinous crime at Okuama.

“The aftermath of the invasion was the destruction and killing of some innocent and peace loving citizens of Igbomotoru community which is rather unfortunate and saddening”.

The Bayelsa Born lawmaker also sent out his heartfelt condolences to the Bayelsa State government and the widows, widowers and the good people of Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency, specifically the Igbomotoru community for the untimely demise of innocent citizens arising from the unfortunate military operations.

He said that he is aware that the Nigerian Army has the capacity to gather intelligence within a short period. The execution of such intelligence reports should be done with utmost caution to minimize collateral damage to innocent and law abiding citizens.

He called on the natives of Igbomotoru and Southern Ijaw communities to be vigilant and report suspicious movements of any kind from anybody to the security agencies in the area

The lawmaker also thanked the Bayelsa State Government and Delta State Government for their swift responses on the killings.

He further called on the Federal Government and International Organizations to send Palliatives to the affected communities whose livelihood has been affected especially those who have lost bread winners in the process and children who as a result of this unfortunate incident have lost precious school time.

 

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Disparaging Dangote Uncalled For, Creating Bad Waves For Nigeria – AFDB President, Adesina

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The president of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has spoken out in defence of the Dangote Refinery, addressing concerns about potential monopolistic practices.

In a statement shared by businessman Femi Otedola on Tuesday via X, Adesina expressed his shock at the controversy surrounding Dangote’s operations, warning that it is “creating bad waves for Nigeria globally.”

According to Otedola’s post, Adesina argued that monopolies often arise in industries with high entry barriers or capital costs, citing railways and large-scale refineries as examples.

He was quoted as saying, “Monopoly often exists where there are high barriers to entry or high capital costs. How many individuals or companies can do railways? How many can do refineries of the scale of Dangote Refineries? In a nation that has been importing refined petroleum products for several decades, the abnormal simply became very normal.”

The AfDB President emphasised the significant investment made by Dangote, stating, “No smart investor would make a $19.5 billion investment and want it to be undermined by importers.”

He highlighted manufacturing challenges in Nigeria, describing the business environment as fraught with policy uncertainties and reversals.

“To manufacture is extremely expensive and risky. This is even more so in Nigeria, given the very challenging business and economic environment, fraught with policy uncertainties and policy reversals, and where the self-defeating default mode of “simply import it” is always so easily rationalized and chorused to solve any problem,” he said.

Addressing concerns about anti-competitive practices, Adesina said, “Competition is good for everyone. But is Dangote refineries anti-competitive? What is the evidence? Has Dangote Refineries prevented any other company from setting up refineries? Why have others not done so? How come they have not done so for several decades?

“Was it Dangote that held them back? But Dangote refineries surely cannot be asked to ‘compete’ with importers of petroleum products. That is not competition. Let the importers set up local refineries and compete by refining in Nigeria. That is fair and justified competition.”

Adesina stressed the broader economic implications of the refinery, stating, “We cannot and must not undermine, disparage or kill local industries, talk less of one that is of this scale — a jewel of industrialisation in Nigeria. It is more than simply delivering the cheapest product to the market.

“It is about domestic supply security, driving (and yes, protecting) globally competitive industries, maximising forward and backward linkages in the local economy, job creation, reducing forex expenses and shoring up the Naira. We must not be myopic.

“This whole disparaging of Dangote is uncalled for. It is self-defeating. And it is very bad for Nigeria. Who will want to come and invest in a country that disparages and undermines its own largest investor? Investing is tough. Pettiness is easy. It sadly sends a signal that the price for sacrificing for Nigeria is to get sacrificed.”

 

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BBC To Cut 500 Jobs As It Attempts To Save £200m For ‘Transformation’ Of The Corporation

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The BBC has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as it attempts to save £200 million to drive the “transformation” of the corporation.

Chief operating adviser, Leigh Tavaziva said it is making the changes to improve its premium video offering and digital capabilities.

It comes as the BBC is already attempting to save £500 million as part of a plan announced two years ago.

Tavaziva said “significant activity” is already underway to make the corporation “more flexible”.

She said: “In March this year we announced a requirement for an additional £200 million of savings and reinvestment plans to drive the continued transformation of the BBC.

“This will support greater investment into premium video content and further develop our digital capabilities.”

She added: “To further build our digital capabilities, whilst targeting efficiencies, over the next two years we will continue to close and transfer roles in some areas and create new roles in growth areas.

“This will result in a forecast net reduction of 500 roles in the public service by March 26, with further growth in targeted areas planned in our commercial group.

“To support these changes we will today be launching a new voluntary redundancy scheme for staff.

“Our priority remains to protect and champion the BBC’s fighting role as the UK’s public service broadcaster, for all our audiences both local and global.

“I would like to thank all colleagues for their continued efforts and commitments over the past 12 months.

“I am immensely proud of the exceptional content creativity, delivery, and innovation that our teams both provide and support every day.”

The BBC announced in March 2023 that it was to cut 1,000 hours of TV in order to save money, with half of that coming from sport.

In the same year, the corporation announced it was scrapping its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

In December 2022 it said that it was making £11m worth of cuts in local radio, which saw its 39 stations required to share content and broadcast less localised content.

Back in 2016, the BBC said it needed to cut £800m worth of costs, with £80m of that coming from news.

The move saw the Andrew Neil Show axed in 2020, along with 450 jobs in English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

 

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I Have No Blending Plant Outside Nigeria, NNPC Boss Kyari Replies Dangote

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The Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari has said he does not own a blending plant outside Nigeria.

Kyari stated this on Tuesday, July 23, while reacting to claims that some officials of the NNPC have blending plants in Malta.

Reacting in a post on his X handle (formerly Twitter), Kyari said he had been inundated with calls from family members and friends, asking if he truly owns a blending plant in Malta.

Kyari stated that he does not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world except a local mini-agricultural venture.

He also said he is not aware of any employee of the NNPC that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“I am inundated by enquiries from family members, friends and associates on the public declaration by the President of Dangote Group that some NNPC workers have established a blending plant in Malta thereby impeding procurements from local production of Petroleum products.

“To clarify the allegations regarding the blending plant, I do not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world with the exception of a local mini Agric venture, neither am I aware of any employee of the NNPC, that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“A blending plant in Malta or any part of the world has no influence over NNPC’s business operations and strategic actions.”

The NNPC boss threatened to sanction any official of the NNPC involved in such acts if they truly exist.

 

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