A detained loyalist of former governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State, Jonah Okah, who was recently arrested and arraigned for alleged defamation, has accused Governor Seriake Dickson of being behind his ordeal.
Okah made the allegation in a press statement he smuggled out from his prison cell in Yenagoa on Monday.
Okah who is a civil servant in the state was arrested in Yenagoa on August 31 by the police and detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department for allegedly defaming the Government House accountant, Richard Etonye, in a Facebook post.
The post in question involved an alleged conversation between Okah, a former aide to Sylva, and Etonye regarding a purported missing $4.6 million said to belong to Dickson.
The Dickson government has imputed political motives to Okah’s Facebook post on the alleged missing money in several press statements. And many believe that it was the governor who actually ordered the arrest of Okah, whose former principal had opposed Dickson at the last governorship election in the state as candidate of All Progressives Congress.
The victory of Dickson, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, in that election is still being contested in the court by Sylva. But the governor has been accused of hounding loyalists of his opponent.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite, said in a statement on September 3 that Okah was not being prosecuted by the Bayelsa State government, and the government was not an interested party in the case.
However, Okah in a release accused Dickson of direct involvement in the matter and judicial manipulation on purpose to punish a perceived loyalist of his political opponent.
Okah denied the political imputations by the state government, saying the government’s statements and attitude to the alleged defamation case supposedly involving civil servants confirm that the governor is the one sponsoring the trial.
Okah stated, “If the ‘state government is not an interested party,’ as claimed, and Governor Dickson is not the one levering this persecution against me, then:
“In a case of misdemeanor between two civil servants, what is the state government’s interest in clamping down on me with a contingent of armed security personnel?
“In a case of defamation involving two civil servants, what is government’s interest in directing a non-civil servant, political appointee, and Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary to write a petition against me to the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, claiming that I defamed one Richard Etonye? Whose interest was my illegal arrest meant to serve?”
Okah also queried the involvement of state counsels in a private case between civil servants and accused the governor of conspiring with the magistrate to detain him without “adequate time and facilities” for his defence.