From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa


The Niger Delta Justice Forum (NDJF) has uncovered a plot to sponsor a protest against a former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Content Development and Management Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, and a former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva.


The group said the protest was scheduled to hold in Abuja at the premises of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as part of ongoing sponsored campaign of calumny against Wabote and Sylva.


The group in a statement by its coordinator, Sorowei Johnson, said the action was being planned by a former member of the House of Representatives and bankrolled by a member of the Federal Executive Council.


He said the protest was borne out of malice to stampede the anti-graft agency to act over what it described as frivolous petition to the agency against Wabote.


Johnson while urging the anti-graft agency and relevant security agencies to be on the watch because the protest could destabilise the peace in the capital territory, added that the EFCC should remain professional and resist the grand plot to coerce it into taking any hasty step in a political feud involving Sylva.

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He said: “Nigerians are aware of the allegations and counter-allegations between the former ES of the Board and the Minister of State. The ex-ES had alleged that while in office the Minister sent an ally of his to tell him to pad the budget of the Board to the tune of N30 billion.


“The Minister also countered by alleging that billions of naira kept by the Board with the Bank of Industry was wasted during the tenure of the ex-ES, an allegation which the Bank of Industry had swiftly denied and exonerated Engr Simbi Wabote.


“Our own concern is that justice must be done and all parties treated fairly and equitably. This act of renting a crowd to protest when a matter is being looked into is fishy. Why try to stampede the agency?


“Wabote was rushed out of office when his tenure had not ended and the person who took over from him, barely five months in the saddle, is already having running battle with the Minister over undue interference in the day to day running of the agency which is statutorily saddled with the functions of the Executive Secretary, Engr. Felix Ogbe

We call on the EFCC not to be swayed by rent-a-crowd-antic. It should rather follow due diligence and investigate the hefty allegations against Minister Lokpobiri. Why is it that the Board has been of so much interest to the Minister of State? There are many things happening in the ministry that he should pay attention to. The refineries are not yet working, vandalism of pipelines have not stopped, illegal oil bunkering is still on.

Justin told the EFCC that the so-called petition against Wabote and the planned protest were politically motivated to score cheap political points against Chief Timipre Sylva.

“It is incontrovertible that Engineer Wabote led the most transparent administration of the NCDMB and remained the best Executive Secretary since the board was created. The records are there and no amount of mudslinging and vendetta will erase these excellent records.