*My hands are clean
By Henry Umoru, Abuja
The Director-General, Ibrahim Babangida Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Raymond Dokpesi said yesterday that security agencies now investigating the Abuja bomb blasts should look elsewhere for the brains behind the explosions as he knew nothing about the blasts that killed at least 10 Nigerians on the occasion of the nation’s 50th Independence Day anniversary.
He was arrested and detained for 24 hours by the State Security Services, SSS, to explain how an SMS message purportedly from him was found in the handset of a suspect in security custody.
Chief Dokpesi, speaking in Abuja for the first time since his release by the SSS, said he had never met or discussed with MEND leader, Henry Okah or anyone suspected of involvement in the Abuja bomb blasts.
“I have never corresponded with him through either directly or communicated with him through any third party. Nor has my principal, General Ibrahim Babangida in anyway associated or collaborated with anybody”, he said.
“Let me say that I am still at a loss myself why I was invited. Because I have nothing to do with the bomb blast. But let me simply state the fact that on Monday, the 3rd of October, I received a telephone call on my way from Jigawa asking me to report at the SSS headquarters at 10:00 am in the morning.
“And I asked the name of the person that was calling and he gave me the name that he is an official of the SSS. I was at the SSS headquarters diligently at 10 a.m. on Monday, 3rd October. When I came in, I was shown a handset where somebody was asking whether he had collected the N 4million from Dokpesi. And whether I knew anything about this text message.
“And I said, to start with, I am not the owner of the handset. The message was not sent to me. I don’t even know who the party, who and who is exchanging this text message. I was told that it is one Edo Aroh from Bayelsa State. And I was asked if I have any financial contact or any financial agreement with anybody that bears that name. However, I have appointed in Bayelsa State Hon. Okokeno as the IBB 2011 State Co-ordinator in Bayelsa State.
“And with Okokeno I have a relationship. I released the sum of N4 million to him to be able to secure an office in Bayelsa State. And that is the extent to which I have had a contact and they called me further to say do I know the Niger Delta Renaissance Network and I said Yes. I do recall clearly that when I was still Chairman of Daar Communication PLC, about the 26th of August prior to my acceptance of being the Director General of the campaign of IBB 2011, that a group, about five gentlemen wrote a letter, seeking an appointment to see me.
“And that these five gentlemen said they were representatives of the Niger Delta Renaissance Network. They had placed advertorials from the end of July in The Nation, Daily Trust, This Day. They had appeared on AIT and on Channels TV. And the main trust of their advertorial was that they are in support of the PDP zoning. They are in support of the fact that we should have justice and fairness in the polity that PDP members should respect the zoning formula of the party. And these their views they have been promoting. They have appeared twice on AIT and on Focus Nigeria.
“And each time they have paid the sum of N1 million. Now that they were speculating in the papers to the effort that I was going to be DG of the IBB 2011 presidential campaign and coupled with the fact that I am a leader of the South-South that they were stranded in Abuja and that they wanted some sort of financial assistance to be able to go back.
“I went ahead and I said yes as a leader of the South-South I can try to see how I can help you, but the truth of the matter is that what you have paid to AIT you have paid to AIT I cannot go and call anybody to assist. And I called my Executive Assistant to explain to him and I said my assistant should give N500,000. So that everyone of them could have N100,000. I had a concurrent meeting going on in my main office, so I met them in my guest waiting room.
“So I left them and that was all the discussion. There was no politics, there was nothing that was there apart from the fact that they needed financial assistance and I gave them N500,000. Thereafter I never had any contact with them until 1st September when I was appointed DG of the IBB campaign organisation”.
Reflecting on what happened before then he said: “And by 1st September I had cause to write a letter to the then Inspector-General of Police drawing attention to very unfortunate developments that were taking place in the polity. The South –South Leaders and Elders Committee had met under the chairmanship of Chief Clark. According to newspaper of reports, I understand that the former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe (rtd), Minister of Petroleum, Alison Madueke, former Deputy Speaker of House of representative, Mr Chibudum, Chief Graham Douglas was present, former Governor of Edo State Prof Osunbor, Minister of environment, John Odey and Minister of State work were present at the meeting where I was purportedly expelled or suspended from the South-South Peoples Assembly as advertised in the papers.
“This was a statement. I am not saying these people were the ones plotting to kill me. I never said so. My letter to the Inspector General of Police has been very explicit to the effect that I did state very clearly that I understand from newspaper report, that these people were the ones present at the meeting where I was said to have been expelled. Less than 24 hours later a joint Revolutionary Council (TRC) which says it comprises of an alliance of MEND, active combat unit of the Niger Delta People Volunteer Force declared me persona non grata in the Niger Delta. And that publication that was sent was signed by Cynthia Wyte and it was widely published throughout Nigeria and on the wire services across the whole world .
“Having taken this position against me, I wrote to the Inspector General of Police coupled with the fact that my son and members of my entire house hold started receiving telephone calls and threats; I wrote to the IGP asking that I should be protected, that the members of my family be protected. That my company , AIT and anybody who transact with it, should be protected.
“That the people who deal with Daar Communication should also be protected. It is worthy of note that letter to the IGP was on 1st September 2010. I also addressed it to the Director Central State Security Services(SSS). I also directed it to all National Security Adviser, the NIA and all the security agencies. But up till today, they have not invited me or responded to the matter, only for me to now get the invitation to come in for interrogation. Now that was squarely on the issue of interrogation. After the questioning of my giving money to the members of the Niger Delta Renaissance Network, I again asked questions about my relationship with Henry Okah. And said Henry Okah I have never met before
“Henry Okah I have never dealt with. I have never communicated with him. I’m not even sure that if I see him I will recognise him. I have never had any transaction with him either directly or through a third party.
“I think on Wednesday at about almost 10 or 11 in the night, they brought one Eduware before me. And I said yes, I have seen this face on three or four occasions. I have seen him when he came with the Renaissance Network Group people. I have seen him when he came with my coordinator in Bayelsa State, Hon. Okokeme.
“ I also saw him when I was to meet with the lawyer of the Renaissance Network at General IBB’s Guest House in Maitama, he came along with him. I saw him alight from a taxi together with the lawyer and I invited the lawyer in. And that is the only time. I have never had any type of financial transaction with him or exchanged any other thing order than the fact that he was in the company of these people I have mentioned.
“The N4 million that is being referred to is money that was released for the acquisition of the office in Bayelsa State. And it was not only Bayelsa state that benefitted from that initial grant of getting offices and furnishing. In some states, some people donated buildings. So all we needed was to try to do some furnishing. That is the only financial transaction I have had. On Wednesday I was asked to write my statement.
“I wrote my statement within two hours, I remained there for several hours thereafter, almost about 7 or 8 hours later. On Thursday I went down there I was there for almost another 10, 11 hours doing absolutely nothing. Apart from people coming to say sit down here and I sit down nobody said good morning or good night to me from morning till almost about 10 to 15 minutes, they would ask me one or two questions, “can you help us put down this your explanation.”
On his discussion with Eduware, Dokpesi said, “Eduware confirmed those were the only moments he met with me and that was the basis of the contacts he had with me and no more.
Asked whether Eduware ran errands for him, he said, “No I never said I sent him on any errand or had anything at all to do with me. Then they insinuated that “But Eduware you told us that you met him at a meeting with IBB and chief which you attended”. And I said there couldn’t have been such a meeting which he attended with me. It was September 29th it was LEADERSHIP 50th anniversary ceremony which General IBB came as a special guest of honor.
“We attended that ceremony and they wanted to reach me earlier before we left for that ceremony but I was not available. I had to go to his guest house to wait for him because immediately after that ceremony he was going back to Minna and the venue of the function would not be a proper place for us to meet and discuss what ever it was he wanted to see me for.
“So I went to his guest house to wait for him. While I was waiting for him, a lawyer called me from Port Harcourt which coincidentally is the same lawyer to this Renaissance Network telling me that he wanted to see me urgently on the PDP nomination /election primary guidelines which had been issued. That there were some sorts of lacuna that he was not aware whether I had taken note of. So I said come and see me.
“When he came in I was not able to see him the day he came in. He called one the next day that he was going to be going back to Port Harcourt that it was very painful that he came all the way from Port Harcourt and he had not been able to see me. And I told him I was somewhere in Maitama. So he came in a taxi with this Eduware to the gate. So I asked the lawyer inside to be able to have the discussion.
“And we had the discussion it was not an issue we could finish on that day, not on the next day but on the third day. So I asked him to come and meet me in the house. He came with two other lawyers to the house, on the third day. So I asked him to come and meet me in the house. He came with two other lawyers to the house. On the third day, he met me with four lawyers at me office and we reviewed the implications of the points he had raised. So there was not time that I had any type of contact, any type of message or errand for that gentleman called Eduware.
On whether Eduware was at the meeting with the lawyers, Dokpesi said, “No”