Delta denies involvement in judge's kidnap
Delta State government has denied accusation of involvement and instigation of abduction of judges in the employ of the state.
The state Commissioner for Information, Chike C. Ogeah, gave his response Sunday to Chief Rita-Lori Ogbebor, who was reported in The Guardian and other national newspapers of Tuesday, January 8, 2013, as alleging that the government of Delta State was involved in the kidnap of a serving justice and threat of kidnap of other justices.
Ogeah said: 'It is true that the Okere community and the Delta State government have an ongoing case at the Warri High Court in a suit instituted by the community over a piece of land in the GRA in Warri, which had been in possession of the government. It was a swampy land used for rice farming by prisoners from colonial times.
'However, when prison authorities ceased using the land for rice cultivation, the Delta State government sand filled it and it became a dumpsite. But due to the hazardous nature of the dumpsite, government reclaimed the said land.
'The Okere community had sought the permission of Delta State government to build a school and community hall on the land. This request was turned down and government has proceeded to build a model school on the piece of land. Okere community's resort to the court of law to advance its cause is a legitimate exercise and the suit has nothing to do with the kidnap of Justice Okon as alleged by Chief Ogbebor. The kidnap suspects who have since been apprehended do not have any case or litigation connected to Justice Okon nor is the judge handling any suit associated with the suspects.
Ogeah said the Delta State government has never interfered in any judicial proceeding even when it is a party and never will, adding that contrary to what Chief Ogbebor was quoted as saying, the suit where the presiding judge was threatened with kidnap had not reached judgment stage and the Delta State government had raised objections to the competence of the plaintiff to institute the action.
'Obviously, Chief Ogbebor did not understand the status and nature of the case in court. If she had taken time to seek government's side of the story, her view would have been better informed,' he said.
He said government was collaborating with security agencies and providing them with requisite operational tools to enable them effectively combat kidnapping. The police has been charged to arrest all persons directly or remotely connected with kidnap as Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State is committed to protecting all citizens of the state, including judges.
Ogeah concluded: 'We urge Chief Ogbebor to aid the police in the fight against kidnapping by reporting to the security agencies any person she knows that is involved in this heinous crime of kidnap.'