The face-off between Governor Nyesom Wike and the Commander of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) in Rivers State, Akin Fakorede, has worsened with a notice issued to the anti-robbery outfit to quit its office complex.
The office complex situated in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was allocated to F-SARS by the state government while Governor Wike’s political rival and Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, held sway as the governor of the state.
The quit notice was issued by the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, the local government where Wike hails from, through the council’s Legal Adviser, Victor Owhonda Wokem.
Wike, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was said to have fallen out with Fakorede over the legislative election rerun conducted in the state in December last year.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday, however, Fakorede, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said the security outfit would not vacate the facility allocated to it by the Amaechi’s government on August 23, 2012, asking officials of the local government council to desist from making false claims.
Also speaking on the telephone yesterday, the Caretaker Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Goodnews Ozioma Amadi, said: “It is a legal matter. It is being handled by the council’s Legal Adviser.”
Amadi, a PDP chieftain, was recently appointed by Governor Wike to act as caretaker chairman of the local government for three months with the chance of being re-appointed for another three months.
Speaking through its Publicity Secretary, Chief Chris Finebone, in Port Harcourt yesterday, the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said: “Of course, this is one of the clearest evidence of the war of attrition being waged by Wike and his government against the F-SARS in Rivers State. It is a development foretold by discerning minds.”
The party alleged that Wike was fighting Fakorede and F-SARS in the state because of 2019 elections and the governor’s vice-presidential ambition, with the state’s commander of F-SARS having earlier refused to be bribed to support the massive rigging of the December 10 last year’s legislative rerun.
Copies of the quit notice issued by Obio/Akpor Local Government Council as well as the response of F-SARS, both on their colourful letterheads, were obtained by our correspondent in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The quit notice dated October 18, 2017 was signed by the council’s legal adviser and addressed to the commander of F-SARS, titled “Notice to vacate and deliver up possession of the property/premises you occupy inside the Obio/Akpor International Market, Rukpokwu Town, Obio/Akpor LGA, Rivers State.”
Wokem wrote: “I am directed by the Local Government Council to give you one-month notice to vacate and deliver up possession of the premises/property of the Obio/Akpor International Market, which you presently occupy, as a licensee thereof, on or before 30th day of November, 2017.
“This directive is borne out of the council’s need to carry out major renovation works at the international market and to put the said property, which you occupy, into full use and purpose for which it was originally acquired and built.
“Take further notice that in the event you fail, refuse or neglect to abide by this notice, the council shall have no option but to use all available legal means to eject you therefrom and demand consequential damages. Please, be guided accordingly.”
Copies of the Obio/Akpor local government’s quit notice were sent to Wike, Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris and the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed.
The quit notice, which was received by F-SARS, Rivers State on October 19, 2017, was stamped and signed by one of the officials of the security outfit without the name indicated.
F-SARS, Rivers State, in its reply, dated October 19, 2017 and signed by Fakorede accused the officials of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council of being economical with the truth.
The F-SARS’ response had copies for the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Port Harcourt and the Officer in Charge (O/C) Legal, State CID, Port Harcourt.
F-SARS’ stated in its response: “I refer to your letter dated October 18, 2017 on the above subject matter and wish to respectfully inform your good office that the Rivers State F-SARS is not in possession or occupation of any premises/property of Obio/Akpor Local Government.
“For the purpose of clarity and the avoidance of doubt, the F-SARS is presently occupying a purpose-built police facility, constructed for the police and officially handed over to the F-SARS, Rivers State on August 23, 2812 by the Rivers State Government, under Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, then Governor of Rivers State.
“You are kindly requested to advise your client to desist from making false claims. Please be advised.”
Fakorede, in yesterday’s telephone interview, also stated that F-SARS purpose-built facility had a standard police station, cells, offices and residential quarters for officers and men, among other facilities to enhance the smooth operations of the special security outfit, while declaring that there was no way F-SARS could quit the facility it had been occupying for more than five years.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, at a news conference in Government House, Port Harcourt, accused Fakorede of taking sides with the leaders of the APC, calling for his transfer away from the state.
Okah drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, other Nigerians and the international community to atrocities allegedly committed in Rivers State by F-SARS under the command of Fakorede and the alleged deliberate refusal of the IGP and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to reprimand or transfer the commander of F-SARS in the state.
Okah said: “Rivers State Government is not after the person of Mr. Akin Fakorede but the odious methods he employs in doing his job and the consequences.”
APC in Rivers, however, accused Wike and his allies of lying outright in their declaration of war against “the hardworking, focused and professional commander of F-SARS in the state”.
The party said: “The accusation by the Rivers State Government is complete nonsense. If the police and particularly former Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, were the armed wing of the PDP to tackle the former Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, years back, it does not by any means follow that APC today needs such an aberration or unholy alliance. We are a party of change.
“APC has no special relationship with SARS or any security agency in the colour being painted by Wike and the PDP in Rivers State. We are happy that the Rivers State Government and PDP in Rivers State have come out to unveil the real reasons they are battling SARS and its Commander, Akin Fakorede. They have spelt it out that it is all about 2019.
“APC as a political party sensed it all along. We will not be surprised if the police high command already knows why PDP and Wike are whining, huffing and puffing about SARS and Akin Fakorede.
“Now, it is crystal clear who is politicising security in Rivers State and why the best efforts of the security agencies appear not to be achieving the desired results.”
The Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) International said yesterday that the move by the Rivers State Government to eject the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) from its purpose-built facility in Port Harcourt was borne out of malice and vendetta.
IYM’s President-General, Azubuike Nwanjoku, accompanied by the movement’s Publicity Secretary, Dike Bekwele, declared that the quit notice was anti-people and an exercise in futility.
The umbrella organisation of Ikwerre youths said: “The action of the Rivers State Government, through its proxy in Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, is an aberration and abuse of power. Governor Nyesom Wike is bent on working for the redeployment of the F-SARS’ Commander, Akin Fakorode, who has refused to be cowed to do his (Wike’s) bidding.
“Wike, as the chief security officer of Rivers State, should apply wisdom in handling security matters rather than endangering the security architecture of the state. It is antithetical to the wishes and aspirations of Rivers people. The move (quit notice) must be resisted.
“Rivers State without men of the F-SARS will remain a pariah state. The level of capital loss and divestment in Rivers State in recent months over insecurity is very worrisome. The collaboration between the Ikwerre youth organisation and the security institutions, especially the police, in its campaign and crusade against killings, beheadings and other forms of criminality is paying off.
“Members of IYM will not fold their arms and watch Rivers State degenerate into lawlessness over the actions of the state government. Rivers government must remain accountable to the people.
“Wike should desist from playing politics with the security of the lives of Rivers people and their property.”