The Rivers State Government, Nyesom Wike has impounded an armoured Range Rover belonging to the immediate past Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Tony Okocha.
The bullet-proof vehicle was removed from Okocha’s residence at Rumuigbo in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area at about 9am by security operatives attached to Government House.
On June 18, 2015, in a similar fashion, a Lexus SUV was removed from the residence of the former state Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari,
Though, the former aide to ex-governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was not around when the operation was carried out, it was gathered that the vehicle was taken away without any resistance.
Government officials had insisted that the armoured Range Rover belonged to Rivers State and not any individual.
Speaking on the development, Okocha said he was in Abuja to observe the Rivers Election Tribunal when he was informed that his vehicle had been taken away on the orders of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Okocha maintained that the vehicle was his ‘status car,’ which the law allowed him to own after his service as a Government House chief of staff.
He explained that though he was not miffed by Wike’s action, he was only surprised at the governor’s ‘seeming introduction of militarism into democracy.
According to him, “I have just been informed of the forceful confiscation of my status car in the usual brigandage and ‘Rambo’ approach, which typifies the new caretaker administration in Rivers State.
“I am not, however, surprised at the uncouth action, knowing Mr. Wike’s nuances like the back of my hand, but I warn that this seeming introduction of militarism into our democratic experience and the attendant ignominies may well become our bane if not checked.
He, however, disagreed with the claim that the Range Rover parked in his residence was without its four tyres when it was taken away.
“Is it possible to remove the tyres of the vehicle that I drive always? It is a white lie to say that the vehicle was parked without tyres.
“If they think they are saying the truth, let them show pictures of the vehicle while it was being removed. They must have used a forklift to remove it,” Okocha said.
But the Special Adviser to Wike on Media and Publicity, Opunabo Inko-Tariah, pointed out that there was no way an armoured Range Rover would be a status car of a chief of staff, Government House.
Stressing that the four tyres of the vehicle were removed at the point it was parked inside Okocha’s residence, Inko-Tariah added that the bulletproof Range Rover was the property of the state government.
“As chief of staff, he (Okocha) has no right to use a bulletproof car without leave from government. Yes, a bulletproof Range Rover was recovered from his (Okocha) residence.
“However, what is staggering is that he removed all the tyres to demobilise the car and obviously to frustrate recovery.
“That act in itself is highly suspicious and obviates the need for any further evidence that it was stolen from Government House. You don’t need to remove the tyres of your car if there are no sinister plots,” Wike’s aide argued.