My grouse with Goodluck Jonathan – ex-Bayelsa governor Sylva

Former Governor Timipre Sylva
Former Governor Timipre Sylva

A former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, has accused ex- president Goodluck Jonathan of orchestrating attacks against him and his government when they were in power.

Mr Sylva said the former president’s dislike for his emergence as governor of Bayelsa State led to the annulment of his election in 2008.

After serving as deputy for six years, Mr Jonathan was sworn-in as governor of Bayelsa following the impeachment of then governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by the Bayelsa State assembly after being charged with money laundering in the United Kingdom.

Upon completion of his tenure in 2007, Mr Jonathan was succeeded by Mr Sylva of the same party, PDP. But the latter’s election was challenged and overturned in 2008 by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt which ordered a new election.

In the build-up to the new election which Mr Sylva won, he was locked in political duel with Mr Jonathan, then vice president, over who controls their home state of Bayelsa.

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While responding to questions at a media interactive session in Abuja on Saturday, Mr Sylva said the fact that his election did not conform to a drafted succession plan was Mr Jonathan’ grouse against him.

“As governor in Bayelsa State, I had ongoing battles with the Jonathan system. He wanted a different succession plan but I didn’t and without him being in control, I ended up as governor. So, as vice president, he started fighting me from day one. And that was why my election was annulled in 2008; but then I went back for re-election.

“Yar’Adua as president then protected me because he saw the good in what I was doing. But as soon as Yar’Adua died, my problems began because I was not part of that succession arrangement. So, they concocted all kinds of lies against me,” he said at the media event tagged Frank Talk with Sylva.

Mr Sylva also spoke on allegations 48 houses belonging to him were confiscated and later returned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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The commission had slammed 50 charges against the ex-governor and arraigned him before the federal high court in Abuja; but the case was struck out.

A report by Punch indicated that the confiscated houses were returned. Mr Sylva denied this.

“If I own 48 houses, I’ll have a street in Abuja. But that is not true. The Jonathan administration at the toppest level had vowed to indict and jail me but they could not find anything against me. They said they found money in my account, let them come and tell me how much they found in my account all over Nigeria, I challenged them. Because I didn’t have.

“So, they come up with another story, any house belonging to anybody in any way connected to me, they ascribe to me. Even in that process, they were not able to gather properties. In fact, there was a friend of mine that was constructing a house, he came and told me that it is down my street. I’ve not even visited the house before but they said it was my house. Houses belonging to people that I didn’t know, they said it was my properties.

“When we went to court, what happened was that all those whose who owned the house applied to join the case. So, when everybody came to say this house belongs to me and that…, the judge had no choice than to say, look you cannot ask EFCC to confiscate these properties because every owners of these properties have conclusively proven that these houses do not belong to Sylva.”

Mr Sylva said no 48 houses was returned to him after the judgement. He added that the story still lingers because it is being recycled at intervals.

“Anytime they talk about cabinet reshuffle, they recycle the story. I bet you, at any other time something critical is coming, this story will come out again,” he said.

Responding to questions on allegations he was a cultist and militant, the former governor said his sympathy for the youth earned him the tag of cultist while his amnesty programme proposal made some tag him as militant.

“I sold it (Amnesty programme) to the president at the time, Yar’Adua. Even vice president Jonathan was against it. When that programme became the single most successful policy of the Yar’Adua administration, everybody took ownership of it and even said I was not part of it; but of course they couldn’t deny it because I have proof and everybody who was involved knew that it was my concept. One of the problems I had was that when I tried to talk about amnesty programme, these same people will say he’s taking side with the militants. Why is going to come with an amnesty programme, why are we not bombing them. You see, he’s a militant himself. That was how the story evolved,” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES could not get a reaction from Mr Jonathan as his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze did not answer calls Sunday morning.

He also did not reply text messages sent to him.

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