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Okuama Killings: Edwin Clark Raises Concerns About His Safety After Army Invades Country Home 

Edwin Clark has warned that if his death is linked to overzealous state actors, it may set Nigeria on fire.

Ijaw leader and first republic federal commissioner for information, Chief Edwin Clark on Tuesday raised the alarm over threat to his life which, he said, is in serious danger.

He warned that if his death is linked to any dubious means by some overzealous state actors, it may set Nigeria on fire.

Clark, 97, told journalists at a press conference in Abuja how his country home in Kiagbodo, Delta State, was invaded by officers of the Nigerian Army on Saturday March 23, 2024.

The incident took place few days after he featured on ARISE Newsnight on the killing of 17 soldiers in Okuama community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.

He said, “At about 6pm on Saturday, 23rd March, 2024, I got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as the commanding officer Nigerian Army Division in Port Harcourt. He said that a tracker of the Nigerian Army, had tracked one Mr. Vote, the community chairman of Okuama Community, whom the Army was looking for in respect of the killings of the 17 men of the Nigerian Army, to a house in Ughelli; and that the military men had broken into the house, ransacked it, before they were informed that the house belongs to me, that he was very sorry and apologising to me on behalf of the Army. 

“In my usual way and as a leader who is expected to condone as much as possible, I accepted his apology wholeheartedly, but told him that I do not own a house in Ughelli, that the house he is referring to, could be my father’s. 

“I went on to sympathise with the Nigerian Army over the gruesome murder of the soldier, an action I had condemned severally the moment I heard of it in the news. 

“I assured him that we will all work within our powers to avail the security agencies with any available information that would unravel the whole thing and bring the perpetrators to book. We ended the discussion on a cordial note.

“It was not long after that, I was inundated with calls from my home, Kiagbodo, telling me how the army had invaded my country home by land and by air. That they came in about 5 trucks loaded with armed soldiers numbering between 30 and 40. 

“They invaded my house, used their legs to break open all the doors in the compound including the security door to my sitting room which was locked because I reside in Abuja. 

“At the same time, flying their drone within the premises. Some of them went to the buildings behind the main house, and also broke all the doors that were locked. They marched out my staff living in those buildings, including lecturers at the university; made them to sit on the bare ground. 

“They also broke into my late brother, Ambassador Akporode Blessing Clark’s house; a man who served this country internationally in various capacities, including as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; as both of us share the same premises. 

“They brought out his son almost naked, as the young man was taking a bath, when they stormed the house.

“All their phones were seized. The people had to identify themselves, and told them whose house it was, before they asked for my telephone number, which they said they will pass to their “oga”’, before they all departed. 

“One would have expected that at this juncture, a call could have been put to the Governor of Delta State, to inform him of what happened.

“I immediately called back the commanding officer to tell him of the actions of his men. And he said he was aware, and that was why he called to apologise. Before continuing, let me play the devil’s advocate by stating that the army may not know that the house they went to in Kiagbodo is my country home. 

“But I feel very uncomfortable to conclude this recent incident with such theory, when I recall how men of the Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Office of the Inspector General of Police, on 4th September, 2018, at about 12 noon, stormed my house in Abuja with a bus load, fully armed. 

“They came with a Search Warrant from a Magistrate Court in Abuja, bearing Mrs. Helen Clark, but with the address of my house on it, that they had come to search the house; that they had information that arms from the Niger Delta were being stockpiled there. I identified myself, and told that there was no one named Helen Clark, living with me in the house. 

“I spoke with the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations. But they insisted on carrying out their search. With a very clear conscience, I allowed them to go ahead with their mission. They took their time to search every space in the compound, including my bedroom, but found nothing incriminating. They wrote their report to that effect. I asked to be given a copy of the report, but the men who came for the search informed me that a copy can only be given to me if I went to their office. 

“I detailed two persons to accompany them to their office, but they refused to give them the copy. I was told that I had to apply formally. I asked my lawyer to apply, which he did, till date, I do not have a copy of that report.

“The incident attracted a lot of attention locally and internationally. Dignitaries from everywhere trooped to my house to sympathise with me. Some of them were former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR; former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa then Governor of Delta State; Governor Seriake Dickson, then Governor of Bayelsa State; the then government of Akwa Ibom State sent a delegation of six Senators; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Chief John Nnia Nwodo, then President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo; Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President General, Middlebelt Forum, and a host of others, including a journalist who called from France, asking about the incident.

“On the evening of the Police search which was seen in some quarters as life threatening, tensions started brewing among the youths who had already started protesting in the streets, especially in the Niger Delta region. 

“The then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, dispatched a high powered delegation, of four top Police officers, led by a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, to come apologise to me, stating that the police officers who came to carry out the operation, were on an illegal assignment. I refused to bite that bait. There is no way the young officers would have gone to a Magistrate Court to procure a Search Warrant, to come search my house for arms. But I accepted the apology for the sake of peace, as the nation, especially the South-South region was already agitating. 

“However, the condition I gave them was that the young officers who came to do a ‘job’ officially assigned to them, should not be touched.

“Now, few days ago, on Saturday 23rd March, 2024, another set of state actors, this time the Army, invaded my country home, by land and air, breaking into my house that was securely locked.

This has gone beyond coincidence and is giving me a source of concern. 

“By God’s grace I am one of the oldest men in this country today. On May 25, I will be 97 years, God keeping me alive. In about seven decades of my life, I have served this nation meritoriously in different capacities. I have served in the same cabinet with persons who later became Heads of State and Presidents, both as military and civilian.  

“On military side, I had become quite acquainted with many military officers. These include Admiral J. E. A. Wey, General David Ejoor, General Hassan Usman Katsina, General Gibson Jallo, Major-General Shehu Yar’Adua, while he was a Captain; General Abdulsalam Abubakar while he was a Captain; Colonel Mike Okwechime, Colonel Trimnel, Colonel Nzefili, Colonel Conrad Nwawo, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle; Major-General IBM Haruna, Major-General Ike Nwachukwu while he was a Captain, General Charles Ndiomu, also a Captain at the time; Brigadier-General Godwin Alabi-Isama; General I. B. Bisalla; Major-General Paul Tarfa; Major-General Emmanuel Abisoye, Major-General James Oluleye.

 “I served with some of these persons in various cabinets, both at the State and Federal levels. As God would have it, many of them have passed on, those of us still alive, have continued to work assiduously to improve the socio-economic well-being of our country men.

“I make this introduction to let the present-day state actors that most of them who are authorizing disrespectful and unlawful conducts against me today, were probably young men or may not even have been born, when I was interacting with officers who are their superiors by far. In politics, I later also became a distinguished senator of the second republic of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I deserve to be respected, left to live in peace, safety and tranquility. 

“I have very high regard for the Nigerian Army. I used to attend most of its ceremonies at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). Three of my brothers retired as top military officers; Maj. Gen H. U. Clark, Col. Peter Clark and Col Bernard Clark. Two of them, unfortunately, have passed on, namely H. U. Clark and Bernard Clark. Incidentally, Bernard Clark was buried the same week the sad incidence of the gruesome murder of the 17 soldiers happened. 

“My last discussion with Lt. Col. Ali, was in respect of according Bernard Clark the usual military ceremonial burial. Lt. Col. Ali told me he was going to call me back later in the day. Unfortunately, that call never came as he was amongst the soldiers gruesomely murdered. 

“I want to end this write up to all concerned with what I told President Muhammadu Buhari, when my security details were withdrawn that if I die today as a result of natural occurrence, it will be a joyful celebration. 

“But if my death is linked to any dubious means by some overzealous state actors, no one can tell how far the fire will rage. This is not a threat. It is an acknowledgment of God’s mercies on me. Having said that, I want to appreciate the enormous responsibility on the shoulders of the Nigerian Army, who are burdened with so much internal security issues. And it is for that reason I want to use this medium to kindly appeal to all concerned to work assiduously to unravel what happened and bring the perpetrators to book. 

“The earlier this matter is concluded the better, as it will also avail the affected communities which are almost locked down today, without adequate food and water, the chance of returning to normal life. I also wish to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his efforts in combatting the ravaging security issues in the land, especially as it concerns the release of some of the abducted children in Kaduna State. I implore all of us to give him the necessary cooperation. This is the only country that we have.

“Again, I call on the various state actors to let me live in peace, and treat me with the kind of respect that I deserve, having served this country, and still serving even at the age of 97 years, until when it will please the Almighty God to call me home.”

Friday Olokor, Abuja

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