SSS makes U-turn, says Dokpesi not cleared

Date: 21-10-2010 12:06 pm (13 years ago) | Author: Aliuniyi lawal
- at 21-10-2010 12:06 PM (13 years ago)
The State Security Service on Wednesday said it had not cleared the Chairman of Daar Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, for his alleged role in the October 1 twin car bomb blasts in Abuja.

The volte-face by the service spawned confusion among investigators probing the blasts as some of them told THE PUNCH in Abuja that they were thrown off-balance when they read in the newspapers on Wednesday that Dokpesi had been given a clean bill of health.

“We were surprised that the agency could say that Dokpesi had been cleared. His connection to one of the suspects in custody established that fact he knew something about the incident,” one of the investigators said.

The SSS Assistant Director, Public Relations Affairs, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, had told journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, that she was not aware of Dokpesi’s arrest.

“I am not aware that the Chairman of DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi’s invitation to the Head Office of SSS in Asokoro was in connection with his alleged link with the October 1 bomb blasts in Abuja. SSS is a public service and people come here and go out at will,” she had said during the news conference.

But Ogar, in the statement on Wednesday, said she was misrepresented by a segment of the media.

She said, “The attention of the service has been drawn to the misrepresentation of its recent press briefing by segments of the media. We wish to categorically state that the Chairman of Daar communications, Raymond Dokpesi, was arrested in connection to information disclosed about him by the suspects in custody.

“The fact of his subsequent release does not in anyway amount to his exoneration since investigations are still ongoing.

“The Service restates its call on everyone to avoid the politicisation of an issue of serious public safety.”

Meanwhile, the MEND leader has said that the state has no case against him as it has failed to bring any solid evidence in front of the Johannesburg Magistrate‘s Court.

Speaking at the hearing of his bail application, Okah, through his lawyer, Rudi Krause, told the court that the state had not provided solid evidence linking him to the Abuja bombings “because it (the evidence) does not exist.”

He insisted that the case against him was flawed and that the evidence presented to the court by the state did not prove his involvement.

“Contradicting statements from Nigeria about who was responsible for the bombings should not be relied on as evidence,” Krause said.

He submitted that two search and seizure operations conducted by police at Okah‘s home were an indication that the state had a weak case against his client.

The fact that investigating officer Lieutenant Colonel Graeme Zeeman conducted a raid without obtaining a search warrant, was an indication that he did not have “reasonable belief” that he would be granted the document.

Krause said Okah’s arrest and his subsequent prosecution was an attempt by the South African authorities to appease their Nigerian counterparts.

He told the court not to accept excerpts taken from Okah‘s diaries, as these were written in 2007, before he was granted amnesty by the Nigerian government.

Had the notes which included a list of high calibre weapons referred to bombings, Krause said, then they would have been relevant to the case.

A United States-based Nigerian online news agency, Times of, has however, said that the South African government is reportedly in a fix as new evidence from the hearing of the bail application by the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, shows a “complex relationship” between him and top Nigerian government officials.

The report said that its investigations into these ties revealed that on September 17 the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Godspower Orubebe, paid a “secret visit” to Okah in South Africa.

The agency quoted an unnamed member of the Okah family on Wednesday as saying that Orubebe made it “abundantly clear” that he was in South Africa on behalf of Jonathan.

But Orubebe, according to the report, claimed that the last time he made a trip to South Africa to see Okah was about five months ago as part government’s efforts to plead with militants to stop the violence in the Niger Delta and support the Jonathan Presidency.

His Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Ekenwa Akwagbe, also told our correspondent on Wednesday that the last time Orubebe visited South Africa was during the opening ceremony of the last World Cup in June.

The Okah family member, however, told Times of that Orubebe was hosted to a dinner by Okah and his wife, Azuka, on September 18, during which he allegedly said that Jonathan needed his assistance and cooperation for his presidential ambition.

In 2007, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent Jonathan, who was then his deputy, to South Africa to seek ways of ending the Niger Delta crisis with Okah. However, Okah was arrested in Angola a few weeks later and extradited to Nigeria.

When he was freed after a political arrangement was reached, Okah accepted the Federal Government amnesty.

The Okah family member told the agency that after the September 18 dinner, Okah dropped off Orubebe in his car at a popular Nigerian church located at Annie Road, Randburg, South Africa.

He added that during the visit, Orubebe stayed at the Southern Sun Hotel on Katherine Street located in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg, which is only 30 minutes drive from the O.R Tambo International Airport.

In a news article published on March 17, 2008, by a Nigerian daily newspaper (not THE PUNCH), Orubebe admitted that Jonathan, who was then a vice-president, travelled to South Africa and met with Okah before he was arrested in Angola.

According to the newspaper, Orubebe said that Jonathan also met with other persons that were supposed to be involved in the peace process in the Niger Delta.

“If vice- president meets with you today and tomorrow, you have problem with the security agents, there is no way you will say that it is the vice president that is behind it.” He was quoted as saying.

Okah had on Monday insisted that he was “trying terribly hard from embarrasing the Nigerian government.” But the South African prosecutors retorted, “The only person you are embarrassing is yourself, Mr. Okah.”

When contacted, Orubebe’s media adviser, Mr. Akwagbe, said that “some wicked people who were out on a mission of blackmail might have been behind the allegation that the minister visited Okah.

He said, “The minister has not been to South Africa for some time now. A few weeks to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the country, the minister was to receive an award for peace in the Niger Delta. The event was organised by Security Watch.

“However, he could not attend it because he was too preoccupied with state functions. He had to send somebody so I don’t know whether the Okah family member is dreaming. In fact, the last time he (Orubebe) visited South Africa was during the opening ceremony of the World Cup in South Africa.”

Akwagbe also said that the claim by Okah that the invoice, one of the documents, being used to prosecute him emanated from Orubebe was false.

According to him, the standard practice in contract award was for the contractor to issue an invoice and not the person or organisation awarding the contracts.

Posted: at 21-10-2010 12:06 PM (13 years ago) | Gistmaniac