The self-acclaimed speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi has denied reports in the media that the six suspects arrested on Friday with seven AK-47 rifles, 164 rounds of ammunition and six locally made canon launchers by Joint Task Force (JTF) operatives and handed over to the police, were his aides or those of Senator George Sekibo, who represents Rivers East Senatorial District.
Reacting yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital on behalf of himself and Sekibo, Bipi claimed that the six suspects were not known to them, adding that the attempt to link the suspects to them was a ploy by the All Progressives Congress and Rivers State Government to tarnish their political career.
The self-acclaimed speaker said: “I want to state categorically that none of the six persons arrested is my supporter or supporter of the senator. We have no dealing or link with any of them.
“It is also worthy to note that none of those arrested made any confessional statement linking me or the senator to them. The statement by the JTF that the suspects have no political or social affiliation whatsoever vindicates me.
“I strongly believe that the report which linked me and Senator George Sekibo to the suspects was a calculated attempt by the Rivers State Government and the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) in Rivers State to damage our political career and tarnish our reputation.
“We also believe that it is an attempt by the Rivers State Government to divert attention from the murder case involving Chidi Lloyd (arrested and detained Leader of the Rivers House of Assembly, a lawyer, who represents Emohua Constituency).
“Let me state clearly that as the ‘Speaker’ of the Rivers State House of Assembly that I am law abiding. I have not armed any one or group. I do not have any intention to do so any day. Senator George Sekibo and I have no link whatsoever with any arm-bearing group or person”.
Bipi, who is the political godson of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, also urged the good people of the state and Nigerians in general to discountenance the report as a dangerous political gimmick, targeted at the political opponents of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who is the chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum.
Meanwhile, the state police command has debunked media reports that it has got orders ‘from above’ to immediately release the suspects.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ahmad Muhammad, who on Saturday claimed that he had not been briefed on the purported handover of the suspects by the JTF to the police, last night maintained his position.
“As said earlier, I have not been briefed of the handover [of the suspects to the police], if any, let alone talking about their release”, Muhammed, a Deputy Superintendent of Police said.