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Edwin Clark’s Home Raided by Nigerian Soldiers in Search of Mr Vote, Illegal Arms

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ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigerian soldiers raided the country home of elder statesman Edwin Clark in Kiagbodo, Delta State, on March 23, purportedly in search of arms.

This operation is believed to be part of a broader security crackdown following the tragic killing of 17 soldiers of the 181 Amphibious Battalion at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area.

Clark, a prominent leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), recounted to journalists at his Asokoro residence in Abuja how approximately 30 to 40 soldiers, arriving in about five trucks, forcefully entered his premises.

The soldiers used brute force to break open every door within the compound, including the security door to Clark’s sitting room, despite his primary residence being in Abuja.

The military operation did not stop at Clark’s residence; it extended to the house of his late brother, Ambassador Akporode Clark, causing distress to his nephew, who was abruptly brought out of his bath by the raiding soldiers.

In a surprising turn of events, Clark received a call from a commanding officer of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, who apologised for the mistaken raid on a house in Ughelli, believing it to be associated with Clark.

The elder statesman accepted the apology, emphasising his condemnation of the soldiers’ killing and his commitment to aiding security efforts.

However, this apology came before the unwarranted invasion of his Kiagbodo home, suggesting a lack of communication or coordination within the military operations.

Clark’s experience with security forces is not unique; he recalled a similar incident on September 4, 2018, when the Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Office of the Inspector General of Police, erroneously stormed his Abuja residence on a misguided search for arms purportedly linked to the Niger Delta.

Despite these harrowing experiences, Clark lauded President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to address the nation’s security challenges. He appealed for peace and respect, underscoring his lifelong service to Nigeria and his current role as a nonagenarian leader.

For the record, below is the oral statement by Chief Edwin Clark provided to The Trent.

“At about 6pm on Saturday, 23rd March, 2024, I got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as the commanding officer Nigerian Army, Division in Port Harcourt. He said that a tracker of the Nigerian Army, had tracked one Mr. Vote, the community chairman of Okuoma Community, whom the Army was looking for in respect of the killings of the 17 men of the Nigerian Army, to a house in Ughelli; and that the military men had broken into the house, ransacked it, before they were informed that the house belongs to me, that he was very sorry and apologising to me on behalf of the Army,” Chief Edwin Clark said.

“In my usual way and as a leader who is expected to condone as much as possible, I accepted his apology wholeheartedly, but told him that I do not own a house in Ughelli, that the house he is referring to, could be my father’s. I went on to sympathise with the Nigerian Army over the gruesome murder of the soldiers, an action I had condemned severally the moment I heard of it in the news.

“I assured him that we will all work within our powers to avail the security agencies with any available information that would unravel the whole thing and bring the perpetrators to book. We ended the discussion on a cordial note.

“It was not long after that, I was inundated with calls from my home, Kiagbodo, telling me how the army had invaded my country home by land and by air. That they came in about 5 trucks loaded with armed soldiers numbering between 30 and 40. They in my house, used their legs to break open all the doors in the compound including the security door to my sitting room which was locked because I reside in Abuja.

“At the same time, flying their drone within the premises. Some of them went to the buildings behind the main house, and also broke all the doors that were locked. They marched out my staff living in those buildings, including lecturers at the university; made them to sit on bare ground.

“They also broke into my late brother, Ambassador Akporode Blessing Clark’s house; a man who served this country internationally in various capacities, including as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; as both of us share the same premises.

“They brought out his son almost naked, as the young man was taking a bath, when they stormed the house.

“All their phones were seized. The people had to identify themselves, and told them whose house it was, before they asked for my telephone number, which they said they will pass to their ‘oga’, before they all departed. One would have expected that at this juncture, a call could have been put to the Governor of Delta State, to inform him of what happened.

“I immediately called back the commanding officer to tell him of the actions of his men. And he said he was aware, and that was why he called to apologise.

“Before continuing, let me play the devil’s advocate by stating that the army may not know that the house they went to in Kiagbodo is my country home. But I feel very uncomfortable to conclude this recent incident with such theory, when I recall how men of the Tactical Squad of the Nigeria Police, attached to the Office of the Inspector General of Police, on 4th September, 2018, at about 12 noon, stormed my house in Abuja with in a bus load, fully armed.

“They came with a Search Warrant from a Magistrate Court in Abuja, bearing Mrs. Helen Clark, but with the address of my house on it, that they had come to search the house; that they had information that arms from the Niger Delta were being stock piled there.

“I identified myself, and told that there was no one named Helen Clark, living with me in the house. I spoke with the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations. But they insisted on carrying out their search. With a very clear conscience, I allowed them to go ahead with their mission. They took their time to search every space in the compound, including my bedroom, but found nothing incriminating.

“Again, I call on the various state actors to let me live in peace, and treat me with the kind of respect that I deserve, having served this country, and still serving even at the age of 97 years, until when it will please the Almighty God to call me home,” he concluded.

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