By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
The Office of Prof. Charles Dokubo, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, denied media reports alleging he was the brain behind the looting of items meant for the empowerment of residents of communities impacted during the Niger Delta crisis to cover up fraud at the Amnesty Office.
The reports were rather smear campaigns staged by persons, who the Office described as “ambitious politicians eyeing Prof. Dokubo’s office.”
Describing the report as “preposterous, malicious and false,” Mr. Murphy Ganagana, PAP spokesperson, called on the people to disregard the report, adding they should rather support Dokubo’s efforts aimed at moving the Amnesty Programme to the next level than to smear the hard-earned reputation of Prof. Dokubo..
“The malicious and false reports, which followed a stage-managed protest hired by their sponsors to achieve a pre-determined goal, had alleged that the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, orchestrated the looting,” the statement lamented.
He added, “We wish to state emphatically that these allegations are not only nonsensical, entirely false, preposterous, mischievous and wicked, but also a calculated attempt to smear the hard-earned reputation of Prof. Dokubo.”
Ganagana added that the PAP boss, “a decent and incorruptible scholar of international repute, has within one year in office, given hope to the Niger Delta people through fresh initiatives that would reposition the Amnesty Programme to its original mandate.”
Clarifying on the circumstances surrounding the looting, Ganagana said contrary to the allegation against Dokubo, “The invasion and looting of items at the Kaiama training facility occurred in the presence of security personnel including the police and the military deployed in the centre.”
This happened because the security operatives “were simply overwhelmed by the numerical strength of the massive invaders,” he said.
He explained, “The incident was immediately reported at the Divisional Police Headquarters at Kaiama, and later at the Bayelsa State police command headquarters in Yenagoa.”
He stressed that the police had promptly launched intensive investigation on the incident and have some suspects in custody.
“None of the suspects arrested in connection to the looting of items and vandalism of the facility, has linked any official of the Amnesty Office to the crime,” he said.
While soliciting the continued support of the people, he urged them to complement Prof. Dokubo in moving the Amnesty Programme to the next level.
“It is pertinent to state that Prof. Charles Dokubo will not be distracted by the evil machinations of those working to rubbish his modest achievements within a short span, but remain focused on charting a new course for the Amnesty Programme and the Niger Delta,” he said.
He assured the people of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to turning around the sad narrative of the Niger Delta through the instrumentality of the Amnesty Programme.
However, in the last few days, ex-militants and other groups in the region, including the Ijaw Women Connect, IWC, have faulted the call by CNDSD, describing it as “misplaced and disservice to Ijaw nation.”
Ijaw women, led by Ms. Rosemary Naingha, while absolving Prof Dokubo of any blame in the scandalous looting of the vocational training centre, noted that rather than calling for the head of Dokubo, all hands should be on deck to bring the perpetrators to book.
Addressing reporters in Yenagoa, Naingba, president IWC, asserted,” Rather than apportioning blames, IWC intends to collaborate with well meaning organisations and civil society groups to thoroughly investigate before holding further discussions and finally will brief the press.”
“We cannot continue to cry foul while the perpetrators walk the streets freely. Calling for the sack of of Prof Charles Dokubo, the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by our own Ijaws is a disservice to the Ijaw nation. No one throws away the child with the bath water.
“We will investigate in collaboration with other Ijaw groups and stakeholders to bring the perpetrators to book and we call on all to be calm, sheathe their swords, this is the time to build and not to destroy. We must continue to be a strength to one another for the development of the Niger Delta region,” he said.
Ex-militants, who are beneficiaries of the second phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme have described the appointment of Prof. Charles Dokubo as Special Assistant and Coordinator of programme, as very unique, saying that his appointment has brought sanity into the operations of the programme.
In a statement by Clement Wodo, Goddy Kaduna, Dengo Benin, Olotu Wanemi, Stephen, Ebisinte and Kingsley Muturu in Benin City, Edo state, the group said that since his appointment, Prof. Dokubo has done much to repair the damaged image of the Amnesty Programme and nobody should distract from doing a good work.
The group maintained that Prof. Dokubo’s leadership has brought the Amnesty Programme to a greater height, saying that the region has witnessed significant improvement in touching the lives of the people.
“Prof Charles Dokubo is the best coordinator we ever had. He gave contracts to beneficiaries, his office is open to everybody, he cares about the smooth running of the programme, and the development of the region is his first priority.
“We are using this medium to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to over look petitions against Prof. Charles Dokubo because he has done wonderfully well. We want him to remain in the office as the coordinator,” the group asserted.
It described the deluge of allegations against the Presidential Amnesty Coordinator as false and an attempt by political detractors to smear the good work he was destroying.
Meanwhile, in Rivers state, the Kalabari tribesmen of Prof Charles Dokubo marched the streets of Port Harcourt, Rivers state, during the week, protesting mounting calls for sack of Dokubo as Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP.
The placard-carrying campaigners under the Kalabari Indigenous Movement, joined by teeming ex-militants, marched through major streets before anchoring at the PAP Liaison Office in Port Harcourt. Some of the placards bore such inscriptions as “Dokubo is doing well, leave him alone”, “Bayelsa, Kalabari is Ijaw”, “ Don’t Destroy Ijaw Unity”, “President Buhari, pay no attention to the enemies of Niger Delta”, “Amnesty is not only for Bayelsa”, and “Stop the pull him down syndrome”
President General, Kalabari Indigenous Movement, Sepribo Douglas, said, “We are appealing to President Buhari to ignore all detractors of Dokubo. He is a true Kalabari man. Only Kalabari submitted arms without undermining the Amnesty process, but a Kalabari person has never headed that office before now.”
“A Kalabari son has come on board to prove that the Amnesty office is not a place to loot funds, not a place to promote corruption. He has introduced entrepreneurial program for the youth, he has paid our salaries and made sure there are no outstanding debt. He is not a part of any corruption. Anyone who wants him gone is looking for a way to destroy the unity of Ijaw nation,” he said.