*Diri sacks paramount ruler, CDC, youth leaders for complicity
*Illegal crude refiners linked
*Police declares four wanted
KIDNAPPED Bayelsa State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr. Federal Otokito, who regained his freedom on Monday, has been presented to Governor Douye Diri in Yenagoa by Bayelsa commissioner of Police, Mr. Ben Nebolisa and the State Director of the State Security Services, Mr. Mohammed Abdullahi.
Governor Diri, who alleged that illegal refining of crude was connected to the kidnap, thereafter deposed the Otuokpoti community paramount ruler, Chief A.C.T Wongo, and replaced with Chief Rescue Abe, as the state Commissioner of Police declared Joshua Abi, Clergy Mabinton, Gift Tebeda and Azin Azin wanted in connection with the kidnap.
This was contained in statement by Diri’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, who reiterated the governor’s position on the state’s zero tolerance to all forms of crime and criminality, adding that those sacked includes the community’s development committee, chairman, CDC, Azibalua Amon, replaced with Jerry Offor , while the youth president, Emolem Igue lost his office to Shedrach Afiemo. All new appointees are in acting capacity.
According to the statement, Governor Diri, “Warned those who see kidnapping as a business to desist as his government will not hesitate to invoke the extant laws and make the state uncomfortable for criminal elements.
“I call on all community leaders to remain vigilant and ensure that peace prevailed in their communities as government will not hesitate to sanction anyone found wanting in the discharge of their duties”, he further stated.
Diri, said “Preliminary investigation revealed that illegal refining of crude was connected to the kidnap. We warn all those involved in such business in the state to stop forthwith.
He expressed appreciation to security agencies and all those who availed the government of useful information that led to the release of the commissioner, assuring that his government will continue to make Bayelsa safe for all residents.
His words: “I like to thank God that a member of the state exco who was kidnapped is now here with us.
“I like to also thank the security agencies and all other sources that helped in securing the release of the commissioner.
“Investigation is still ongoing. So we appeal to all in Otuokpoti to keep the peace and security agencies will keep an eagle eye on Otuokpoti and environs.
“Bayelsa will not condone crime and criminality. We have zero tolerance for crime. Let this be a warning to all those who have taken that as a way of life that Bayelsa is not a state for them.
“We have anti-kidnapping laws and they will be invoked at all times. As a government, we will do everything to ensure peace for people of the state.”
Also speaking, the rescued commissioner, expressed appreciation to Governor Diri, his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and all those who worked for his release.
It will be recalled that on Sunday during the Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area 2022 thanksgiving service at his Shampoo Community, Governor Diri promisd to rescue the kidnapped commissioner unhurt.
Senator Diri also vowed that the kidnapped commissioner would be released unhurt, while ruling out ransom payment and warned against political thuggery in the state and demanded his immediate and unconditional release by his abductors reminding them of laws against kidnapping in the state.
He also called on youths to shun kidnapping, as it was counter-productive to the state and their wellbeing.
His words: “I left Yenagoa for Abuja and within the period, one of my cabinet members was kidnapped. A lot of people expected me to issue a statement, but I am not a man of too many words.
“I advise those who settle scores by kidnapping and criminality that there are laws of Bayelsa State against kidnapping. Let me call on those that kidnapped my Commissioner of Trade and Investment to immediately release him without any conditions.
“I have been on it from the beginning till now and I will ensure that he is released unhurt. I advise all others involved in that criminal, ungodly and inhumane act to have a change of mind and leave that illegitimate business.”
Governor Diri also used the opportunity to caution those heating up the state politically due to their ambition to tread carefully as his government would not condone political thuggery and such nefarious acts.
Diri warned that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state has a structure that must be followed strictly through nominations and elections when the time is right, saying, anyone with a negative agenda to have a rethink.
The Governor further reminded his appointees that have political ambitions to resign their appointments, as he called on politicians in the state to change their old ways of playing God, mudslinging and thuggery, adding that whoever God destined to occupy a position would eventually emerge no matter whose ox is gored.
“Now we are in a political year. Some have begun to scramble to become members of the National Assembly or the House of Assembly. I have received several calls that some people have started having processions while some are preparing thugs. That is not what Bayelsa State wants.
“We have a political party structure, particularly those of us in the PDP. We opened our two arms to receive everybody. But thereafter we will sit down, consult and have a credible process of nominating who goes to the House of Assembly or National Assembly and who gets what, how, why and when.
“I earlier told members of my cabinet who have interest in any political offices to put in their resignation and I mean it. So, I’m using this occasion to re-emphasise it.
“This goes to all other political appointees be they Special Advisers, Technical Advisers or Senior Special Assistants. If you want to contest for any political office, please put in your resignation.”
Earlier, the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, urged Bayelsans to continue praying for those in authority, for God’s grace to enable them succeed, addng that appreciating God attracts positive growth to the state as there is power in the tongue.
In his sermon, President of the Royal House of Grace Church International, Apostle David Zilly-Aggrey said God was still in the business of using mortals to bring His plans to pass and that this can be achieved if the people drew near to Him in prayers and thanksgiving.
The clergy Iwho admonished the people to realise that every God-induced victory was not for an individual but for all, also noted that the annual KOLGA Thanksgiving Day was established by God and cannot be changed.
The programme witnessed a large turnout with notable Member representing the Ogbia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Fred Obua, and Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere , in attendance.
Others include the chairman, Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba and top government functionaries.
Clerics present were South South Vice President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Archbishop Israel Ege, state chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Pastor Tam-Seth Eyedoude, and Bishop Winning Willie Buntin among others.