June 9, 2009

We’re still quizzing suspect held over attack on Sylva’s aide —Police

By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—The Bayelsa State police command yesterday said it was trying to establish the culpability of a suspect held over the attack on Governor Timipre Sylva’s Senior Special Assistant on Youth and Conflict Resolution, Mike Wenibowei.

Wenibowei was attacked Thursday night by unknown gunmen who riddled his official Toyota Hilux vehicle with bullets allegedly fired from an AK 47 rifle.

A total of sixteen expended bullets were recovered from the scene of attack by security operatives that visited there.

Three former Ijaw youth leaders, Dr. Felix Tuodolo, Oyinfie Jonjon and Famous Daunemighan were arrested over the incident.

Though Tuodolo, who witnessed the gruesome attack on the governor’s aide and Jonjon had since been released, Daunemighan is still being kept in detention over alleged discovery of two pump rifles in his premises during a search, a claim being challenged by his lawyers.

The Assistant Police Commissioner in charge of the State CID, Dave Akinremi, while briefing newsmen yesterday in Yenagoa on the fall out of the Thursday night incident, said though the police recovered two pump action rifles from a detained suspect, Famous Daunemigha’s premises, they may not be the guns used in the attack.

Akinremi told newsmen that the victim of the attack, Wenibowei had identified Daunemigha as one of the two persons with the gunman at the time of the incident.

The state CID boss explained that the expended bullets recovered from the scene of the attack were that of AK 47, stressing that only ballisticians at a forensic laboratory would be able to determine if any of the two rifles displayed was used in the assassination attempt.

He also disclosed that no bullets were found during the search at the suspect’s residence, adding that the suspect had also denied ownership of the two rifles allegedly found in his premises.

But in a swift reaction, Daunemigha’s lawyers said the two pump action rifles were planted on the premises of their client, pointing out that the alleged discovery coincided with when an assistant commissioner of police was on a phone call with someone at an undisclosed end.

Osom John-Jacob Makbere said they were ready to contest the police allegations through the legal process, as there was no material evidence in the police case against his client and that they were only trying to curry media sympathy.

On police disclosure that the victim had identified his client as one of those with the gunman, Makbere said the victim has sounded more than ambiguous as a day earlier, the same victim had said one of the persons resembled his client.

He categorically accused the state government of masterminding the arrest and detention of Daunemighan, lamenting that government has turned out to be something not worthy of its definition by trying to destroy his client’s wine bar business and surveillance job with Saipem.

Makbere described Daunemigha as a civic person, whose civic nature attracted political appointment from Governor Sylva, saying he was also a one-time vice president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).

He linked his client’s travails to his face-off with the state government.

Daunemighan, it would be recalled, had in an interview with newsmen last Thursday said he was compelled to resign from the Timipre Sylva led administration on the discovery that he was working with the wrong government.

His words: “I served in a government that has no agenda and policies for the people of the state. I see no vision in the administration and can never again be associated with such failure. As a young man, I had to resign.”

Daunemighan also alleged that there were moves by those in the corridors of power to take over his contract with Saipem Construction Company, a contract for the provision of labour which he had been into for about three years now.

The former special adviser also said since his resignation in March this year, he had been receiving text messages of threat to his life on his mobile telephone set, most of which he said are sent on hidden GSM numbers, while the few that had numbers could not be reached after such texts.

But the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Ola Doifie, in statement made available to newsmen, dismissed the allegation against his boss by the former special adviser.

Mr. Ola Doifie described the charges as unfounded, reckless and provocative, saying Governor Sylva was not a vindictive person that would want to ruin anyone’s business over a non-issue as an aide tendering a resignation for politically motivated reasons.