Amaka Agbu, Port Harcourt
The Rivers government has again accused the state Commander of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Mr. Akin Fakorede, of using his men to perpetrate kidnapping, armed robbery, extra judicial killings, rape and other criminal activities in the state in order to create the impression of insecurity to outsiders and investors.
In a press conference addressed in Port Harcourt on Monday by the newly appointed Commissioner for Information, Mr. Emma Okah, the state government rewound all its accusations of Mr. Fakorede and called on President Mohammadu Buhari, to remove him from the state.
The Information Commissioner drew the attention of the President and the international community to the alleged atrocities committed in the state by the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) under the Command of Mr. Fakorede and the deliberate refusal of the Inspector General of Police as well as the Police Service Commission (PSC) to reprimand or transfer him out of Rivers State Federal SARS Command despite repeated demand.
Mr. Okah said: “For the avoidance of doubts, the 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. It is on record that since 2015, the Rivers State Government has been making calls for the investigation of the activities of SARS and the sanctioning of its Commander in Rivers State but all that fell on deaf ears.
“Rivers State Government had accused him and his men of organized election rigging, extra judicial killings, armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion, planting of incriminating evidence on innocent people or their property, illegal arrest and detention, inhuman and degrading treatment of innocent people and rape. We still stand on those allegations and with all sense of responsibility; many of them have increased in intensity,” the commissioner said.
The state government insisted that Mr. Fakorede was allegedly “running the armed wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State and that his mission was to rig the last rerun elections in favour of the APC which he has achieved successfully. Secondly, he is to perfect his strategy to rig the 2019 general elections in Rivers State in favour of his party and against the will of the people.”
“In preparation for his second assignment, he is to use SARS to disorganize the security architecture of the Rivers State and foist an atmosphere of crime infestation and continuously cause security disorder until the 2019 elections when he will do his final assignment and deliver APC at all cost, no matter the number of people who may be killed in the process. We dare say that Mr Akin Fakorede is a deeply biased police officer whose continued stay in the police or in Rivers State is a grave source of danger to the Nation, more so when his bias is laced with political and monetary consideration.”
Mr. Okah alleged that Mr. Fakorede was brought to Rivers State through the influence of an inner cabinet Minister for the purposes mentioned above which, he said, explained why the SARS Commander in the State was untouchable.
Citing instances, the commissioner said that “On 11th September, 2017 operatives of SARS kidnapped one Azumana Ifeanyi and one of them dropped him at Fidelity Bank in GRA 2, Port Harcourt to withdraw N500,000.00 to save his life while others waited in his house. Acting on a tip off, the IGP’s X-Squad, picked the man from the bank and went to his house and met the SARS men waiting in battle readiness. Inspector Justice Nyeche who led the X-Squad was shot by a SARS Sergeant and in the process, the Sergeant also killed his Boss a SARS Inspector. The hunter became the hunted and pandemonium ensued. The remaining SARS officers ran away leaving their Inspector soaked in his own blood.
“Arrests of the complainant and the X-Squad men were made and instead of SARS to own up and apologise, they accused the men of X-Squad of killing the SARS Inspector. They quickly produced shells as the ones they allegedly picked from the crime scene to incriminate the X-Squad team. Unfortunately, the bullet shells came from guns that the X-Squad did not have. The arrested men have since been released but where is the SARS sergeant who murdered the Inspector, albeit in error? No Charge has been pressed. Nobody has been reprimanded,” he added.
The commissioner recalled that a High Court in the state recently convicted 5 SARS officers for extra judicial murder of two persons at Oyigbo, stating that the evidence was easily available because the SARS men used their marked vehicles and also took their victim to the ATM machine to withdraw money.
However, Mr. Fakorede has denied all the allegations against him by the Rivers State government. When he appeared on a Rhythm News and Current Affairs Programme, View Point, the SARS Commander said that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad under his care has remained professional adding that that those with genuine allegations had a right channel to pass all their allegations to.
He said: “When the time comes, when the authority feels it is time for you to be redeployed they will redeploy you. For us, it is no big issue. I don’t think it is about me. I think it is about people’s perception about institutions. So all of those criticisms, for us, we see it as a call for better service. Why would somebody resign simply because another person’s opinion does not seem to agree with you. That cannot be a reason for resignation. I wouldn’t know what would be the basis for that. One, I am not employed by the state government. I don’t get salaries, I don’t get remunerations from the state government. I am here to provide service, and all we do is to provide service. SARS is one of several units and we provide security services for all of the citizenry.”
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris had said that all the allegations by Wike against the operatives of SARS under Commander Fakorede were involved in criminal activities in the state did not make sense to him.
The Police boss, told journalists at the Presidential villa in Abuja that it was disheartening when people in the position of leadership made such sweeping allegations.