Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Minister of State for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, has broken his silence over allegations by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson that he was the sponsor of militant leader, Peregbakumo Oyawerikumo aka Karowei, who was killed while trying to escape after his arrest for the beheading and killing of a security operative and five soldiers.
Governor Dickson had, during his monthly transparency briefing while calling on President Mohammadu Buhari to prevail on Lokpobiri and the All Progressive Congress (APC) leader in the state, former governor Timipre Sylva, to stop sponsoring criminal elements specifically mentioned that intelligence reports has it that Karowei was with Lokpobiri on January 3 to celebrate the New Year.
However Lokpobiri who broke his silence on the alleged criminal activities of Karowei in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa state in a press statement titled ‘ Transparency Briefing and Security in Bayelsa state: The Claims of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson said there is no iota of truth in all the allegations levelled against him by Dickson.
Lokpobiri who confirmed that he was in Ekeremor to celebrate the New Year with his kith and kin however said he left Ekeremor on January 2nd, adding that on New Year eve, the said Karowei and his gang members came to threaten him.
While noting that he has nothing to do with the supply of arms to Karowei and other criminals, he commended the Joint Task Force for the gallantry displayed and urged them to take out other criminals like the dead Karowei from their theatre of operation.
“The same militant even came to threaten me on the eve of the New Year and fired some rounds at the river before zooming off. Interestingly, I shared my thoughts on the incident with one of our most respected security officers on my way to Abuja for a meeting with the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Presidential Villa on 3 January 2018. The accusation of the purchase of arms and equipment for the militant is also a figment of the imagination of Governor Dickson. I do not have anything to do with the militant and had never met him” he said
On his contributions since his appointment as Minister for Agriculture which Dickson maintains has no significant impact, Lokpobiri stated that the performance of the Agricultural sector has earned the admiration of Nigerians with the National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS) declaring that it is the highest contributor to the GDP in 2017.
He seized the opportunity to advise Dickson to use the transparency briefing to give account of his stewardship and not a platform for launching campaign of calumny.
“Let it be known that the shameful campaign of calumny against me is not an account of stewardship that should be the focus of a transparency briefing. Governor Dickson should used his briefs to explain to the good people of Bayelsa why there is starvation and misery when he has spent over a trillion Naira on non- existent projects leaving the Bayelsa people with no functional roads, hospitals, schools, water, a huge backlog of unpaid salaries and a tattered economy”.