NewsGroup Uncovers Plot To Sponsor Protests Against Wabote, Sylva

Group Uncovers Plot To Sponsor Protests Against Wabote, Sylva

May 16, (THEWILL)- 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.

NDJF said the protest was scheduled to be held in Abuja, at the premises of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as part of an 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, Israel Sunny Goli, and bankrolled by the Junior Minister of Petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri.

“Already hundreds of willing youths are being recruited by Sunny-Goli for an agreed fee and they will be transported to the EFCC office in Abuja for the purpose of this evil mission”, Justin alleged.

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

He urged the anti-graft agency and relevant security agencies to be on the watch, lamenting that the protest could destabilise the peace in the capital territory.


He advised the EFCC to remain professional and resist the grand plot to coerce it into taking any hasty step in the feud involving Sylva, Wabote and Lokpobiri.

He wondered why Lokpobiri would be so desperate to malign Sylva and Wabote in his quest for some political advantage that he would resort to creating further security challenges at the FCT.

Justin said Sunny-Goli, an ally of Lokpobiri should have submitted his frivolous petition and allowed EFCC to carry out its investigation instead of trying to mount pressure on the agency with protests.

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.

“We are privy to the fact that the same ally of the Minister, Mr Israel Sunny Goli was the one who wrote a petition to the EFCC against the former ES believing that he was acting on the instruction of Minister Lokpobiri, coming on the heels of the weighty allegations of corruption against Lokpobiri.

“The same person is the arrowhead of those planning a ‘phantom’ protest in Abuja against the former ES and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

“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 a 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. Is it that the Minister’s human and managerial relations are poor or that he has a special interest in the Board?”

Justin said many things require the attention of the minister but wonders why he continues to invest all his energies in the NCDMB.

He reaffirmed: “We call on the EFCC not to be swayed by rent-a-crowd-antic. Rather follow due diligence and investigate the hefty allegations against Minister Lokpobiri. We also call on President Bola Tinubu to look into the Wabote/Lokpobiri feud by setting up a probe panel. Meanwhile, let Lokpobiri step aside while the probe is on. That was what Mr President did in the case of Minister Betta Edu.

“Why is it that the Board has been of so much interest to the Minister of State? Many things are happening in the ministry that he should pay attention to. The refineries are not yet working, vandalism of pipelines has not stopped, and illegal oil bunkering is still on. We therefore call on Mr President to tell the Minister to step aside.”

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

He said Sunny Goli became bitter against Chief Sylva, his benefactor when he failed to return to the House of Representatives in 2023 and since then he started leading a campaign of calumny against Sylva.

Describing Sunny-Goli as an ingrate, Justin recalled that the former governor played a key role in single-handedly raising him by first appointing him Special Adviser on Youths, later pushing him to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and then to the House of Representatives.

He said there was no way Sylva could have circumvented the electoral rules to return Sunny Goli to the National Assembly.

“We want to alert members of the public that this protest scheduled to hold in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Yenagoa is part of the campaign of calumny lined up by Lokpobiri and his political ally Sunny-Goli to malign Wabote, one of the shining lights of the Niger Delta”, he insists.

“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 by Lokpobiri and his co-travellers will erase these excellent records.

“Lokpobiri has made operations to pull Wabote and Sylva down his singular mission since the former ES rejected his request to pad the 2024 budget with about N30bn. It was for this same singular reason that Lokpobiri harassed Wabote out of office.

“We are wondering why a minister would go to the extent of sponsoring youths to Abuja through his ally, Sunny-Goli and bankrolling a protest capable of destabilising the capital city, especially in the face of the current security challenges in Abuja”.

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Amos Okioma is a Correspondent at THEWILL

Amos Okioma, THEWILL
Amos Okioma is a Correspondent at THEWILL

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