Task Force Denies Killing 75-Yr-Old Bureau de Change Operator
Following insinuations in some quarters that operatives of the Rivers State Task Force on Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks and Mechanics had allegedly hacked an illegal bureau de change operator around the GRA Junction/Presidential Hotel/Rumuola axis of Port Harcourt to death over unexplained disagreements during a purported raid, the leadership of the task force has debunked the claim, and clearly exonerated its members from any misconduct or wrongdoing within the circumference.
A statement signed, yesterday, by the Special Adviser to the Governor of Rivers State on Illegal Street Trading/Motor Parks/Mechanics, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, made it abundantly clear that members of the task force were never involved in any scuffle or fight with any Hausa business operator in the state that resulted in the death of anyone.
The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the recent rumours being circulated round Port Harcourt and its environs regarding the alleged killing of a Bureau de Change agent around Rumuola axis by members of the Rivers State Task Force on Illegal Street Trading/Illegal Motor Parks/Illegal Mechanics.
“I want to state categorically that the Rivers State Government did not initiate the task force to kill any of her citizens; rather it is aimed at restoring sanity and standard way of living amongst its citizens.
Therefore, the Rivers State Task Force on Illegal Street Trading/Illegal Motor Parks/Illegal Mechanics dissociates itself from such misleading information being peddled by those who seek to defame the Rivers State Government in such negative manner.
“I also want to inform the general public that the state government has already swung into action to actually know the cause of his death, therefore, we urge all to be law abiding and continue with their normal activities as everything is under control.
“Lastly, I want to send a strong warning to those peddling fake news about the Rivers State Task Force on Illegal Street Trading/Illegal Motor Parks/Illegal Mechanics to desist from such act or face the law if caught,” Amaewhule added.
Speaking later in an exclusive interview with The Tide, yesterday, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, in insisted that no member of the task force harassed or confronted any Hausa bureau de change operator in any part of the state capital, including the GRA area of Port Harcourt.
He said that the task force was poised to discharge its duties and responsibilities in a fair and civilised manner, adding that it would not yield to false claims and cheap blackmail by some disgruntled members of the public who do not want to obey the law of the state.
The state coordinator dismissed claims that members of the task force had arrested and were detaining some operators of illegal bureau de change outfits in the state, arguing that allegations of extortion by the task force were unfounded and had no basis.
The victim, whose name was not immediately known as at the time of this report, was confirmed dead following alleged harassment and beating by men of the task force who had raided the neighbourhood, believed to be a beehive of black market operators of foreign currency exchange.
The Tide gathered that immediately after the incident and the death of the victim, social media influencers quickly posted the picture of the deceased on various social media platforms, especially Facebook, which went viral, and drew spontaneous but aggressive response from fellow illegal bureau de change operators around the area, supported by area boys who took advantage of the situation to cause social disorder by barricading all roads around the area, including the ever-busy Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, Presidential Road and GRA Junction, leading into Tombia Street.
Following the protest by Hausa traders and hoodlums, there was palpable pandemonium around the GRA Junction/Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, through Rumuola Junction as riot police detachments were deployed to bring the situation under control, and clear the roads of debris to allow motorists and road users unhindered access to vehicular movement and guarantee their freedom of movement.
An eyewitness, who gave his name simply as Mr Chijioke, said: “The Zone 7 Team of the task force that has been troubling this area came here and killed a Hausa man. The man (victim) came from Slaughter area to this place to see his brother. While he was standing here, the task force guys came and held him. They searched him and collected the money in his pocket.
Chijioke, who is also a currency trader, said, “They started beating and dragging him on the floor. The man collapsed and died in their hands, and they all ran back into their vehicle and drove away. They didn’t know that the man was hypertensive”.
Another eyewitness, David Simon, explained that the task force visited the area regularly to arrest people and also force them to pay N120,000 as fine for operating illegal bureau de change in the area.
Simon stressed, “They came earlier and arrested an old man here. They took him and returned him later after beating him. We are not hawking, we only stand here and ask people if they want to change money, but this task force attacks us every day.
“When they come here and arrest anybody, the person will bail himself with N120,000.00. And they keep coming here to arrest people. Right now, they have over seven people they arrested here in their custody”, Simon added.
When contacted, the Rivers State Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the incident, quickly added that the police were still investigating the matter to determine the cause of death of the alleged currency dealer.
Omoni vowed to fish out those connected with the death of an operator of Bureau de Change, BDC, Ladan Yusuf, aged 75.
The police image maker said that the assurance became necessary to douse tension created by the incident that paralysed economic and social activities in Port Harcourt due to the protests by the Hausa Community in Port Harcourt over the death of their kinsman.
Earlier, the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, Musa Saidu, who identified the victim, said the remains of the late Yusuf were to be buried yesterday in Port Harcourt according Islamic rites.
Fubara Dedicates Victory To Rivers Unity …As INEC Declares Guber Election Results …PDP Wins 31 State Assembly Seats
Rivers State governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, has dedicated his victory at the March 18 governorship polls to the unity of Rivers people.
Fubara noted that the determination of the people to sustain development gave him the victory as he described the giant strides of Governor Nyesom Wike as a big shoe that he would learn to wear.
The governor-elect who reacted to his declaration as the winner of the governorship election in the state on Monday, assured Rivers people of sustaining the tempo for the betterment of the state, adding that he is prepared to work with Rivers people who believe in the new Rivers vision and with innovative ideas.
He thanked Wike for his encouragement and for finding him worthy to carry on from where he will stop, describing it as a great privilege.
He glorified God as the foundation of his accomplishments in life and further assured the party leaders and Rivers people that he would not let them down but work in same spirit that has been passed on to him by Wike.
Fubara had scored 302,614 votes to beat his closet rival, Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Magnus Abe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who trailed behind with 95,274 and 46,981, respectively.
In same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party swept all the State House of Assembly seats except for Ahoada West that is pending a rerun in some wards.
The State Returning Officer, Prof Akpofure Rim-Rukeh, who announced the result late Monday night at the end of the two-day collation at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Head Office in Port Harcourt, had declared Fubara as the winner of the governorship election.
The PDP candidate polled 302,614 votes to defeat his closet rival Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who scored 95,274 votes while the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, Senator Magnus Abe, and Labour Party (LP), Beatrice Itubo came a distant third and fourth with 46,981 and 22,224 votes, respectively.
Rim-Rukeh, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Delta State, said a total of 496,852 were accredited for the March 18 governorship election out of the 3,537,190 registered voters in the state.
He explained that of the 494,604 total votes cast, 483,934 were valid while 10, 670 were rejected votes.
Fubara was anointed by the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike who is in the last weeks of his two-term of eight years.
Fubara’s Victory Reaffirms Rivers As PDP’s Stronghold -Wike …We’ll Sustain NEW Rivers Vision -Fubara
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the State has once again reasserted itself as one of the premier strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the country following the victory of Sir Siminialayi Fubara as the governor-elect.
The governor noted that despite evil machination of the opposition, the PDP has consistently won all the governorship elections in the State since 2015.
Governor Wike stated these shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Fubara as the winner of the 2023 governorship election on Monday night.
Fubara, who was the PDP candidate polled 302,614 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr. Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had 95,274 votes and the Social Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Magnus Abe who came a distant third with 46,981.
Wike, who was visibly excited by Fubara’s resounding victory, told PDP leaders at the Government House, Port Harcourt that the State would continue to remain pivotal to the successes of the PDP.
“Whom God has blessed, no one can curse. There is nothing anyone can do about it. God at this time has said Siminalayi Fubara will be the next governor, and we give God the glory today that, that has happened.
“We won 23 local governments, 23 over 23. It has never happened. Out of the 32 State constituencies, we have won 31, it is remaining one that they said we will go for bye-election. We are ready and we will take that one.
“So, we have said to anybody who cares, Rivers State is PDP. When you annoy us, we do another thing. When we wanted to vote for the unity of the country, we showed it. We didn’t do anti-party, but we voted for unity of the country and that is what we did for one Nigeria.”
Governor Wike, who dedicated the electoral victories of the PDP in the just concluded general elections to God and the people of Rivers State, commended party stalwarts for remaining steadfast in defence of the State since he assumed office in 2015.
“Let me thank all of you for the support you have given us, how you stood firm to make sure that we defend what is Rivers State. In 2015, we did it, in 2019, we did it and in 2023, we have done it again. So, it is not surprising, God has always been with us.”
Governor Wike said he would remain eternally grateful to God because when he first contested for the office of the governor in 2015, his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi, was the incumbent, and was antagonistic to his political aspiration.
The governor while mocking his predecessor for restoring to divisive and disgusting politicking during the electioneering period, said the resounding victory of the PDP has further diminished his political relevance in Rivers State.
“When we came out in 2015, we were not in government. There was a governor (Amaechi) then in 2015. He was the Director General (DG) of (Muhammadu) Buhari campaign. In 2019, he was a super Minister and was also DG of Buhari campaign. He never gave him (Buhari) 25 percent. 2015, he never gave him 25 percent.”
“This is 2023, and they cannot get 25 percent vote in the State, we have also defeated him. You were a super governor, we defeated you. You were a super minister, we defeated you, now, you are a super nobody, we defeated you.”
Governor Wike, has however, cautioned PDP members not to be complacent because the opposition which he likened to “enemies” are still prowling around.
In his acceptance speech, the governor-elect, Fubara, who was accompanied by his deputy, Prof. Ngozi Odu, thanked God for his electoral victory and assured that his administration would consolidate on Wike’s New Rivers Vision.
“We are going to work with everybody who believes in the New Rivers Vision to continue to build better lives, good services, protection of the dignity of every Rivers man and woman, protection of the integrity of this state in all phases and to make sure that we continue to defend our party in this state.
“Our vision is simple, it is anchored on the New Rivers Vision. We are to continue, to improve and to develop more on it. I want to thank the leadership of the party and the good people of Rivers State who believed in the New Rivers vision and ensured that the vision is the right vision. On the 18th of March, 2023, they supported us, they came out in their large numbers and voted for the unity and progress of this State”.
The governor-elect assured the people of Rivers State and the leadership of the PDP that his administration would not disappoint them.
“We give God all the glory and our foundation has always been God, and we believe He is going to give us the wisdom to carry this crown, its a big one. My principal will be leaving a very big shoe, I will need a lot of stockings so my leg can fit in properly.
“So, I need to start working on it. I need all of you to continue to support us, for us to achieve and maintain the standard that the governor has already laid and established for us”, he said.
Wike Congratulates Makinde, Mohammed, Sanwo-Olu
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has congratulated Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Senator Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) on their re-election.
Wike said the re-election of Makinde, Mohammed and Sanwo-Olu through free, fair and credible elections in their respective States, is indeed a triumph for Nigeria’s democracy.
“I am excited by the cheering news of the resounding re-election of governors Makinde, Mohammed and Sanwo-Olu. I am pleased to express to Your Excellencies the most sincere fraternal congratulations.
“I look forward to us consolidating the bonds of brotherhood and friendship between our States and peoples”, he said.
Wike urged the governors to use the election for their second tenure in office to continue to create a better life, and prosperity for all their peoples.
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