•Search two hours for arms, ammunition
•At 91, govt can’t gag me – Clark
•IGP has no hands in it, says Force Hqtrs, orders detention of those involved
•I’m shocked, let God touch the minds of our leaders — Ezeife
•Apologise, Afenifere, PANDEF, Ohanaeze, NEF, Middle Belt tell Police
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru, Dapo Akinrefon & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — THE Police, yesterday raided the Abuja residence of former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, for alleged possession of arms and ammunition.
The policemen stormed the 43, Haile Selassie Street, Asokoro, residence of the 91-year-old elder statesman at 12.30 and left at 2.30 pm, after carrying out a search of the entire house for two hours.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw leader, who described the incident as unfortunate and moving Nigeria into a police state, however, vowed that he will not stop commenting on national issues as well as speak his mind on anything that is unjust in this country, adding that he will not relent in criticising injustice, oppression, discrimination, religious bigotry, ethnicity and anything that will affect the unity of this country, and peaceful existence of Nigeria as a country.
Chief Clark, who noted that at his age, he was not afraid of anybody as nobody can do anything to him, against the backdrop that he had already obtained his boarding pass waiting for the plane to take off, however described the action of the Police as shameful, ridiculous and a serious indication that Nigeria as a country was moving towards becoming a police state.
The six policemen came in an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus with number plate: EU 979 ABC, from the office of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris.
They were said to be from the IGP’s ‘Special Tactical Force’ STF, Guzape, Abuja, which reports only to the IGP. But the IGP, who quickly disowned them, said those involved had been detained.
According to an eye-witness, the policemen who were led by a Kolo Yusuf, said they had a search warrant obtained from the court.
It was learned that three of the policemen, who were heavily armed, waited outside the house, while three others entered the house to effect the search.
Vanguard gathered that the policemen on arrival, were said to have entered the building, asked for the secretary to Chief Clark, Dorothy Koko, who had gone to the bank.
They were said to have insisted that they must see her and it was at this time a call was reportedly made to her to come back to the office, which she did immediately.
A source said when Dorothy 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.
It was further learned that as soon as the policemen finished searching her room, they proceeded to Chief Clark’s bedroom upstairs and searched his room, toilet, his wife’s room, children’s room and the sitting room, among other places.
At the end of the two-hour search, the policemen were said to have left without finding anything incriminating against the elder statesman.
Three of the policemen reportedly signed a document indicating that neither arms nor ammunition was found in the house of Chief Clark, while three persons from Chief Clark’s household counter-signed the document.
Those who signed on behalf of Chief Clark were Ambassador Godknows Igali; Secretary-General of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Dr. Alfred Mulade and Mr. Mac Emakpore.
Speaking with Vanguard after the incident, Chief Clark said: “I was in the house, in my bedroom when my boys came to inform me that there were policemen downstairs and in the sitting room.
“I said: what do they want? They said they came from the Inspector-General of Police, IGP’s Tactical Squad with a warrant from their office in Guzape. So I said: what do you want?
“They said I was selling weapons in my house, and that’s why they went to court to obtain a search warrant and they showed me the search warrant. I said, go ahead.
“They went down, searched everywhere. My secretary, Miss Dorothy Koko, was in the bank; they said they must see her room, her bedroom and the office.
“She had to come back from the bank to open those rooms for them to search. Thereafter, they came up, searched my wife’s room, my children’s room, my other sitting room upstairs and everywhere. This is what happened.”
Asked how many they were, Chief Clark said: “There were four of them, I think with some outside, we don’t know, some were inside.”
On whether the Police at the end of the day discovered arms and ammunition, Chief Clark said: “They didn’t find anything; they made a statement that they’ve come here with a warrant to search the house for ammunition, but they have searched the house, they found nothing and they themselves took away nothing. Three of my people signed it and three of them signed it. That’s what happened.”
Asked if the search could be in connection with last week’s meeting of elders and leaders of socio-cultural groups in the country, Chief Clark said: “I believe it is because of the various meetings we’ve been holding about the state of the nation, otherwise I’m not in Delta where I come from, that militants have come to keep ammunition in my house.
“No sensible man will think that a 92-year-old man in Abuja will keep 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’m 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 were vandalizing pipelines, I formed an organization known as Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to stop these boys and I led about 100 people, including leaders, traditional rulers, everybody.
“Since then, there have been peace in the Niger Delta, oil production has increased. Is that why I should be treated like this? Perhaps, this is the time I should say that it has been the policy of the federal government, the Presidency to congratulate Nigerians who have attained certain age, I attained the age of 91 on the 25th of May this year.
“What I said earlier on was that I am a man of peace; I believe in peaceful co-existence in this country, I have been doing everything possible to see that Nigeria remains one. That’s why we’ve been forming various organisations to keep Nigeria together.
Search for peace
“I started PANDEF on August 19, 2016, to advise the youths who were vandalizing pipelines, to stop them from vandalizing pipelines.
“Oil production in Nigeria which had gone down to as low as about 900,000 barrels per day has increased to over 2 million, everybody knows that. I have held meetings with Mr. President, with our people; I led 100 traditional rulers, politicians, past governors to meet with the President on November 1, 2016.
“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.”
On what the action portends for Nigeria and the nation’s democracy, Chief Clark said: “It is dangerous to say where we are going, we are moving into a police state. What worries me is those who surround Mr. President. I do not think they wish him well with the way they are going.
“President Buhari is the President of the whole of Nigeria, not one part of this country. I do not think, with his greatest respect and having honoured my late friend, Alhaji Maitama Sule, I do not think one policeman would have gone to Kano to search his house. Why this type of discrimination? It is very unfair.”
On whether he will stop commenting on national issues, Chief Clark said: “I will never. I said it is my top slogan that when you are 70 and above, you are at the departure lounge, waiting for your boarding pass.
“I would say I have got 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, anything that will affect the unity of this country, peaceful existence of this country I will speak against it.”
Asked if he would drag the federal government and the IGP to court, the elder statesman said “my lawyers will look into that.”
IGP has no hands in it — Police
In its reaction yesterday, Force Headquarters has distanced the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, from the raid of Clark’s house, saying the personnel who embarked on the exercise acted on their own based on information they may have received about the house.
Force Headquarters, which claimed that it was finding out the cause of the action from the unit concerned, with a view to issuing appropriate response, flayed media reports linking the police boss with the development.
Force Public Relations Officer, FPRO, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jimoh Moshood, who spoke to Vanguard on the telephone, insisted that IGP Idris was not aware of the raid.
Moshood, who claimed that he was going to find out from the police unit concerned with the action, was quick to defend the supervising authorities that carried out the action, saying they acted based on information they received from their informant.
He said: “Whenever a policeman does his work, you people attach the IGP to it. This is wrong. So a policeman will not do any work again except IGP orders?
“If a policeman carries out his duty, it should not be that the IGP ordered it. IGP has not ordered anybody to go and ransack the house of Chief Edwin Clark but we are making a formal statement to that effect and it would be circulated in the next few minutes or so.
“Before then, we want to find out what really happened. But like I have said, their action was not from the IGP, they carried out their core duty. They went there because there was an informant that gave them information and they went there based on the information.
“If they went there based on information at their disposal, do we now say the IGP ordered them to do what they did? But we will make an appropriate response to it.”
The Force Public Relations Officer also said the IGP has ordered the detention of the four personnel and an informant involved in the raid, adding that the IGP monitoring team is also investigating the search of Clark’s house.
Nigerian elders forum, Ezeife condemn raid
Reacting to the development, former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, condemned the action of the police, describing it as sad and unfortunate and asked God to touch the hearts of those leading the affairs of the country.
Ezeife 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.”
Also reacting to the incident, Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum flayed what it described as the gestapo-like raid, by the Police, on the Abuja home of Chief EK Clark even as it demanded an apology for the invasion.
In a statement by Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere; Dr Junaid Mohammed, Northern Elders Forum; Prof Chigozie Ogbu, Ohanaeze; Dr Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt Forum and Senator Bassey Henshaw, PANDEF, the forum warned that the plan to intimidate patriots demanding better leadership for the country would backfire.
The statement read: “The Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum is flabbergasted by the gestapo-like raid on the Abuja home of 91-year -old elder-statesman and Leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief EK Clark by men of the Nigerian Police on the spurious allegation that there were arms and ammunition stockpiled in the house.
“At the end of the shameful invasion of the home of the former Minister and Senator in the worst signal of Nigeria becoming a police state, the police could not find more than a kitchen knife regularly used to slice tomato and onion.
“We view the provocative search as not arising from any intelligence report but a sheer act of intimidation on a home that has served as meeting point for patriots across Nigeria who are engaged in peaceful consultations to save Nigeria from the edge of the precipice.
“The raid is a sad reminder of the era of full blown dictatorship in 1984 when the home of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was ransacked in Ikenne by solders and officials of the dreaded NSO whose conduct has only been rivaled by the DSS under Daura before he was removed when the President was on vacation abroad.
“The traumatization of Pa Clark at 91 is yet another proof that mad power has taken over our polity and its desperation now walking on four with all boundaries of decency collapsed for raw display of beastly tendencies.
“The Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum demands an immediate apology to Chief Clark by the Nigerian Police whose leadership at the moment has shown serial unprofessionalism and dark age policing.
“We want to sound it loud and clear to the administration that if the object of this intimidation is to send fear signals to patriots, who are demanding better leadership for our country, it has backfired. We all counted the cost before we chose to embark on standing up for the country. Our battle cry remains: no retreat, no surrender.”