Sola Adebayo,Semiu Okanlawon,Sam Akpe and Musikilu Mojeed
The Presidency has put the security agencies in the Niger Delta on the alert.
The directive, our correspondents learnt, followed the threat by some Ijaw associations to attack British citizens and facilities in the region.
The reprisal threat by the Ijaw associations was as a result of the arrest on Thursday of the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by the Metropolitan Police in London.
He was released on conditional bail on Friday.
But on Saturday, some Ijaw groups alleged that the governor was being unjustly persecuted and threatened a showdown with the Federal Government and the British authorities.
One of such groups, the Ijaw Youth Council, advised the Federal Government and the British authorities to speedily ensure the release of Alamieyeseigha, “otherwise, we cannot continue to guarantee the safety of their investment in our territories.”
As security was being beefed up in the Niger Delta, it was gathered that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was set to probe some banks for their alleged roles in the Alamieyeseigha saga.
Investigations by our correspondents at the 7th Battalion, Effurun Barracks headquarters of the JTF revealed that the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Gusau, on Saturday conveyed the directive to the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alexander Ogomudia; the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero; and the Director-General of the SSS, Col. Kayode Are (rtd).
Specifically, it was learnt that Ogomudia directed the JTF to beef up security around British citizens and their country’s business interests in the region, especially in Bayelsa State.
A reliable source said that the Commander of the JTF, Brig. Gen. Elias Zamani, held a meeting with the commanders of the outfit shortly after the presidential order was relayed to him on telephone.
The Delta State Director of SSS, Mr. Adebayo Babalola, told our correspondent on Sunday, that the security agencies were battle ready for any eventuality.
On Sunday, the IYC President, Mr. Oyenifie Jonjon, reiterated that the Ijaw could no longer guarantee the security of Britons and British facilities in the Niger Delta.
He said, “Our action can come up any day, but I am confirming that it will soon take place. We will kidnap as many British citizens as possible, and seize their passports.
“We are ready to react violently. You know the military men do not understand the Niger Delta terrain as the indigenes. We are not afraid of them and their foreign collaborators. Ijawland will be made ungovernable, unless Governor Alamieyeseigha is released. Everybody should be ready for the action.”
Reacting to the threat, the Press and Political Officer, British High Commission, Graeme Bannatyne, said, “We are aware of the statement made by the Ijaw Youth Council. The safety of United Kingdom citizens in Nigeria is a top priority for the High Commission. We have taken measures in line with the perceived level of threat. The High Commission does not comment on specific security issues.”
It was also learnt on Saturday that the EFCC, would soon probe some banks in connection with the arrest of Alamieyeseigha.
The commission will meet with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria this week.
Under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, a transfer, to or from a foreign country of funds or securities exceeding $10, 000 or its equivalent by any person or corporate body is supposed to be reported to the CBN.
Section 2 of the Act states that such a report "shall indicate the nature and amount of the transfer, the names and addresses of the sender and the receiver of the funds or securities."
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Government has debunked reports that Alamieyeseigha was arraigned by the British Police.
The government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Oronto Douglas, added that a First Republic Minister and a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference, Chief Edwin Clark, was one of those who met the governor, at the Ilford Police Station where he was taken to after his arrest.
THE PUNCH, Monday, September 19