The immediate past Commissioner of Information and Communications in Rivers State, Ibim Semenitari, has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of resorting to brigandage in a bid to score cheap points.
She was reacting to the invasion of her private residence on No. 12A, Ernest Ikoli Street, Oki, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, by over a dozen policemen in two trucks, who were allegedly acting on instructions from the governor to confiscate government vehicles purportedly in her possession.
The former commissioner said the fully armed policemen, who acted without a search warrant, letter or prior information, damaged a vehicle belonging to her husband during their invasion on Thursday.
Accusing Governor Wike of employing “brigandage, thuggery and underhand tactics”, Semenitari said the invaders also threatened to take away a Lexus jeep duly allocated to her as Commissioner of Information and which by law, she was entitled to leave office with.
The statement, which gave details of the alleged invasion of her house by Wike’s agents, reads: “On Thursday June 18, 2015, over 10 policemen armed with machine guns and in two truck – one Ford Transit and one Hilux – arrived my residence, No 12 A Ernest Ikoli Street, Old G.R.A Port Harcourt. Without either a search warrant, letter or precious information, they forced their way into my premises.
“My security guard on duty requested to know their mission and who sent them. They refused to disclose either but went round taking photographs and videoing my premises.
“The security guard got in touch with my assistant who spoke with the men, explaining to them that I was out of town and again requested to know their mission and purpose. Again, they declined, insisting on seeing me first.
“She then got in touch with me by phone as we were uncertain as to the identity of the policemen in question.
“Upon further investigation and after about three hours of them laying siege to my premises, I was told that they were from Rivers State Government House and had been sent to recover vehicles in my possession.
“They attempted to break into a Range Rover Jeep belonging to my husband and bought long before I was made a commissioner in Rivers State Government, damaging the front door”.
Semenitari said the vehicle in question belonged to her husband, adding that “contrary to the lies being peddled, it is not an armoured vehicle and has never at any point belonged to the Rivers State Government nor its agents, including myself as Commissioner of Information.
“By the time I finally made contact with them and expressed my displeasure, they insisted that they would take away a Lexus jeep duly allocated to me as Commissioner of Information and which by law I am entitled to leave with upon leaving office.
“The monetization policy of the government allows public officers to leave government with their official vehicles, as this is in lieu of vehicle, allowance, transport and other allowances, which they cannot draw because of the monetization policy of 2002.
“Mr. Nyesom Wike served as Chief of Staff, and upon departure left with all the vehicles he used as Chief of Staff. This has been the practice since this democratic dispensation when President Olusegun Obassanjo instituted the monetisation policy.
“Having served as Commissioner for two tenures, I am entitled to my status cars and have proof of allocation”.
She accused Governor Wike of a deliberate ploy to destroy the reputation of former Gov. Chibuike Amaechi, but she would not understand why the new governor would employ “underhand tactics” to achieve this.
She said: “While I understand that Mr. Wike feels a dire need to destroy the reputation of Governor Amaechi and all those worked with him, it is unacceptable that he will engage in brigandage, thuggery and underhand tactics to do so.
“A simple letter from any government official requesting me to make a submission or tender documentation would have been the appropriate way to go and I would have willingly tendered all the relevant documents to them.
“Breaking into my home, invading my privacy, damaging my property and removing property from my premises is inappropriate and illegal.
“I have chosen however to put out these details in the public space as it is apparent that for some persons, only a destruction of my hard earned reputation would do, and this I would not accept.
“My records in the Ministry of Information are crystal clear. I hope that Mr. Nyesom Wike is able to say same about his tenure in every office he has held”.