Akapbio denies sacking Chief Press Secretary, clears air on ‘Ghana Must Go’ bag
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has denied sacking his erstwhile Chief Press Secretary, clarifying that Mr Anietie Ekong was only “reassigned”.
Akpabio, a former Akwa Ibom governor, made the clarification in a statement signed by his new Chief Press Secretary Jackson Udom, on Tuesday, 8 June.
Reports had claimed that Mr Ekong was fired after he allegedly made an error, allowing pictures of a large ‘Ghana Must Go’ bag, suspected to contain millions of hard currency, to be seen on social media.
The reports claimed the former Chief Press Secretary went alongside the Minister when the latter recently visited Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, a former warlord. The money was allegedly a bribe meant for the ex-militant and other stakeholders.
The visit followed a 7-day ultimatum, where the ex-militant threatened to disrupt operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other federal government parastatals, if a substantial board is not set up by the FG. After the visit, Tompolo agreed to give the government more time.
Senator Akpabio however has described it as “spurious”, claims that the contents of the bag were money stashed to be given to Niger Delta Leaders.
He argued that Niger Delta leaders are “wealthy people and can not be bought over with money” and that they “believe in the development of the Region and did not spare a thought in airing their opinions to their son, the Hon. Minister”.
The Minister said: “To put the record straight, Anietie Ekong was never on the entourage of the Hon Minister, during his visit to Niger Delta Region, how could he have been sacked because of ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags, that purportedly conveyed funds that was used to settle Tompolo?
“It is, therefore, the height of irresponsibility and mischief for a media outfit to claim that the contents of the bags that were given to the people were stashed with money meant Niger Delta Leaders.
“Such spurious claim is an insult on the stakeholders for anyone to have belittle them to cash. It is good to point out that they are wealthy people and can not be bought over with money. They believe in the development of the Region and did not spare a thought in airing their opinions to their son, the Hon. Minister
“We, therefore, call on members of the public, to disregard such spurious and paid stories which are intended to rubbish the achievement of peace in the Niger Delta, region which the minister is totally committed to.
“Those allegations, to say the least, exist only in the minds of the purveyors and sponsors of such baseless stories.
“No money was given to any stakeholder in sueing for peace for the region as all agreed that peace in the Niger Delta Region is non-negotiable.
“The sincerity in pursuing peace in the Niger Delta Region as displayed by Mr President through his Minister, Senator Akpabio, conferred on both votes of Confidence from the stakeholders”
“It would be recalled that the Honorable Minister met with the King of Gbaramatu Kingdom with other kings from the Niger Delta Region. He also met with the leaders of Itsekiri, Urhobo, nationalities, paid a condolence visit to the family of the late Olu of Warri and visited the Olu of Warri Designate. He also met with Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, their illustrious son, and left through the creeks all in his bid at fostering peace in Niger Delta Region.
“Therefore, no amount of blackmail, lies and name-calling, will deter the Honorable Minister from achieving the mandate of President Mohammadu Buhari for the people of the region,” he said.
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