Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, has vowed that the Federal Government will unmask and prosecute the perpetrators as well as sponsors of the mindless looting of empowerment starter-packs meant for distribution to impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
Speaking on Monday in Abuja at the inauguration of a Special Investigative Panel to probe the invasion and looting at the central warehouse of the Presidential Amnesty Programme Vocational Training Centre in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Dokubo gave assurance that perpetrators of the nefarious act who also vandalized property at the training facility about three weeks ago, deserve severe punishment in accordance with the nation’s laws.
He expressed shock at the conduct of the army of invaders who overwhelmed the military and other security personnel on guard and brazenly embarked in an orgy of looting of items meant for distribution to residents of communities impacted during the Niger Delta crises, on the eve of the commissioning of the world-class facility.
Dokubo noted that but for an instruction passed by the authorities to the security forces against shooting at the invaders; several lives would have been lost, giving the opposition an opportunity for incitement of communities in the Niger Delta to violence a few days to the presidential and national assembly elections.
He said: “As I eventually gathered, there were almost 3000 persons gathered at the place at any particular time for three days. So even if the soldiers and other security forces deployed had decided to shoot at the persons involved in this wanton looting, how many people would they have killed or how many persons would have survived?
“I leave it to the Special Investigative Panel to truly appraise the roles played by the military and other security agencies in Kaiama on that day. On my part, I was not sent to the Presidential Amnesty Office by Mr. President to kill Niger Deltans. I do not regret not asking the soldiers, police and other security agencies deployed to Kaiama to shoot at sight persons seen or caught looting. But I want the perpetrators of this nefarious act severely punished according to laid down laws of our great nation.”
He dismissed the conspiracy speculations making the rounds on the incident, expressing optimism that the Special Investigative Panel which was set up after due consultations with the highest level of the nation’s security services, would unravel the truth and identify the perpetrators and their sponsors.
He said: “I have even read a report on an online platform that curiously suggested that I orchestrated the looting of assets that were so dear to me and a facility that I had invited very important personalities to attend the commissioning the next day. This claim, I dare say is not only preposterous but mischievous.”
The Special Investigative Panel is chaired by S. A Songonuga, a retired Brigadier-General, and has Dodoye Aripko, CSP Paddy Ogon (Police); Ene Cynthia Ogbe, and Pastor Reuben Wilson, as members. Unyime Eyo will serve as secretary.
Its terms of reference includes but not limited to ascertaining the remote and immediate causes of the incident and identifying persons remotely and directly connected with the looting and vandalisation of the facility.
The panel will also ascertain the exact cost of training equipment, empowerment start-up packs and other looted items, as well as appraise the security situation in the training centre prior to the looting, and ascertain if the incident could have been prevented.
Others are: to ascertain culpability or otherwise of security personnel, staff of the Amnesty Office or contractors in the looting of the facility; prescribe requisite punishments or sanctions for persons found culpable in the criminal act.
Dokubo assured members of the panel which has seven working days to submit its report, of his support and approval to request for and be given any official file or document that would enable it do a thorough investigation of the incident.
He said pursuant to the assignment, the panel also has his approval to invite and question any management staff at the Amnesty Office or reintegration consultants, and as well invite for questioning contractors or service providers who might have supplied training equipment or empowerment start-up packs that were domiciled in the Kaiama VTC prior to the looting and vandalisation.