A social and political activist, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, has demanded the immediate release of Sir Tonye Okio, a loyalist of former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva. Okio was abducted in Abuja Saturday morning by men of the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) of the Nigeria Police, and taken to Yenagoa where he is being detained over his alleged comments on Facebook, considered unfavourable to the powers that be.
Buokoribo said he was expressing his personal views and not those of any social or political affiliation, including Sylva whom he serves as Media Adviser. In the statement released in Yenagoa to journalists on Monday, Buokoribo described the abduction of Okio and his continued detention as illegal, unfair and unsympathetic. He pointedly accused the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr Seriake Dickson, of being the mastermind of what he described as grand impunity.
The activist disclosed that:
“ On Saturday, 26 October, about 15 men, including plain-clothes Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) officials and those attached to the Police Mobile Force (otherwise known as kill-and-go Police), invaded the Abuja residence of Tonye Okio with three vehicles (one Prado Jeep and two Police Escort vans) and forcefully seized him. Thereafter they took his iPAD and the mobile phones of himself and his younger sister;
“ After getting their target, he was taken to the headquarters of the Abuja Command of the Nigeria Police. He stayed with his abductors who claimed they were trying to arrange a flight to take him to Yenagoa via Port Harcourt International Airport. When the flight arrangement failed, the police decided to take Tonye by road. They left Abuja about 4:00 pm Saturday and arrived Yenagoa about 1:00 am on Sunday, 27 October. He was taken straight to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Nigeria Police where he is being detained illegally;
“The Police authorities claim that Tonye Okio will be charged for allegedly writing on his Facebook page recently that an unnamed South-South Governor was recently caught in the U.S. with 5 million USD. Tonye denies the charge;
“ Since his detention, Sir Okio has been denied access to visitors. Police sources say they have been given stern instructions by the Bayelsa State Police Commissioner, Mr Hillary Opara, to deny that Tonye Okio is at the State CID;
“In addition to the regular police that man the gates of the State CID, the surroundings have been taken over by Mobile Police men, numbering about 10, apparently because of the high value detainee;
“ If Dickson believes he is the said governor alleged to have issues of money laundering in the U.S., he should know what to do as a lawyer. Using the police to harass, intimidate and blackmail a political opponent is indecent. Besides, this action amounts to a privatisation of the Nigeria Police;
“Sir Tonye Okio served as Governor’s Special Representative in Abuja to former Governor Sylva. He is also the Publicity Secretary of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) in Bayelsa State. He is a well-known critic of President Goodluck Jonathan over his misgovernance of Nigeria, even though he is from the Ogbia axis of Bayelsa State like Mr President. It is therefore impossible not to read political meanings to his ordeal.
“Keeping Tonye in detention ostensibly for social media activism is a national embarrassment. It insults our collective intelligence. Free Tonye now!