Rivers: Group exonerates Nigerian Army, GOC of any complicity in oil bunkering allegation

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An Investigative report by the Coalition for Human Rights and Good Governance has exonerated General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Rivers State of the allegations of oil bunkering against him by the Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike.

Governor Wike had accused Jamil Sarham, the General Officer Commanding the Army’s 6 Division in Port Harcourt, of raising a team of soldiers to steal and sell petroleum products in the region.
“The GOC has his own team now doing oil bunkering for him because he wants to be chief of army staff,” Wike had claimed.

However, the Nigerian Army had in a reaction said the claims by Wike were false and a deliberate effort to tarnish the towering image of the Chief of Army Staff and the GOC 6 Division.

Relatively, the latest report by the human right group, said there was no iota of truth in the claim by Governor Wike.

The report released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director, Shima Atoka, said the crux of the issues the Governor of Rivers state had with the GOC 6 Division Major General Jamil Sarham started after the GOC turned down the request by the governor for a private meeting.

The report further revealed that the accusation that the GOC is involved in oil bunkering is far from the truth as there are no such operations spearheaded or supported by the Nigerian Army in the South-South region.

The report below.

In the build-up to the 2019 general elections, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) identified some states as the big win states and Rivers state was one of them. This much was revealed in a document where the Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike promised to deliver 3 million votes in an attempt to march whatever votes that the All Progressive Congress (APC) would garner in Kano state to avoid a repeat of the 2015 scenario.

It was also identified that the governor who was seeking re-election felt pressured fearing that the former governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi would use federal might to edge him out of office.

It was revealed that part of the plot was to get the buy-in of the relevant security agencies in the state which included the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army.

Consequently, machinery was put in place by the Rivers state government with active collaboration with top chieftains of the PDP towards actualizing the plot and as such overtures were made to the relevant security agencies for their buy-in.

It was revealed that the overtures made to the Nigerian Army were rebuffed by the GOC of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Rivers State, Major General Jamil Sarham, who directed that such request should be sent to the Nigerian Army headquarters in Abuja for approval.

It was gathered that the Governor of Rivers State was alarmed by the position of the GOC, Major General Jamil Sarham that he requested for a private meeting with the GOC.

It was revealed the crux of the issues the Governor of Rivers state has with the GOC 6 Division Major General Jamil Sarham started after the GOC turned down the request by the governor for a private meeting. The governor felt insulted by the actions of the GOC who he described as “arrogant and a poor man” who would retire from the Nigerian Army in penury.

It was also revealed that the governor realized that the buy-in of the Nigerian Army was very critical to actualizing his ambition and he subsequently sent emissaries to the Army GOC with offers of millions of dollars if he decides to play ball.

These overtures were also rebuffed by the GOC who threatened to confront the governor should he continue with his desire to compromise him with monetary inducement. It was gathered that this further infuriated the governor who vowed to make the operations of the Nigerian Army in Rivers and the South-South region difficult.

The governor was quoted as sending threats to the GOC, Major General Jamil Sarham that he would instigate the people of the South-South against the Nigerian Army 6 Division unless he Sarhem agrees to play ball.

It was gathered that the GOC sent words back to the governor stating that the Nigerian Army was a neutral party in the elections and its role was strictly to ensure that the polls were not disrupted by political thugs as directed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.

It was gathered that the governor indeed carried out his threat by reaching out to governors in the South-South region and paint an awful picture of the GOC to them, also stating that the GOC was working hand in hand with the APC to rig him out of office and to reduce the votes of the PDP presidential candidate in the elections.

This move it was gathered pitched the Nigerian Army against the locals in most of the states in the South-South region so much so that the hostility made the operations the Nigerian Army difficult.

It was gathered that the GOC reached out to the Chief of Army Staff on the development and he was instructed to ensure as much as possible the neutrality of the troops during the elections and the also abide by the rules of engagement with little or no use of force.
The posture of the governor indeed gave rise to the confrontation the Nigerian Army experienced during the elections in Rivers state that led to the death of an army officer and some civilians.

Outcome of Investigations:

The result of the investigations conducted by the Coalition of Human Rights and Good Governance indicates that all the allegations levelled against the GOC, Major General Jamil Sarham were false and targeted at the image of the GOC for turning down the monetary offers from the Rivers state government.

The accusation that the GOC is involved in oil bunkering is far from the truth as there are no such operations spearheaded or supported by the Nigerian Army in the South-South region.

Instead, the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Rivers state under Major General Jamil Sarhem has helped to reduce incidents of institutionalized crime such as kidnapping, armed robbery, and oil bunkering in Rivers State.

The activities of the Nigerian Army in the South-South region has helped the government a great deal in reducing the loss of revenue to the federal government by constantly engaging militants engaged in oil theft and the vandalization of critical government oil assets.

The officers and soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army have remained very professional in the discharge of their duties and have been instrumental to the arrest and forwarding to the Police for the prosecution of militants and oil bunkers in the region.

Recommendations:

The Coalition for Human Rights and Good Governance as a result of its investigative report on the allegations of oil bunkering by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike on the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Rivers State, as a result of this make the following recommendations:

• That the Government of Rivers State should as a matter of urgency discontinue the campaign of character assassination against the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Rivers State.

• That Governor Nyesom Wike should apologize to the Nigerian Army and her personnel for the wrong accusations of partisanship and involvement in oil bunkering activities within 72hrs.

• That Governor Nyesom Wike should stop dragging the Nigerian Army into politics as it’s been very clear from the posture of the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai before and after the 2019 General elections that it cannot dabble into politics.

• That Governor Nyesom Wike should concentrate on the task of governance and desist from making derogatory statements about the Nigerian Army.

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