Two stern-looking heavily armed operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) of Nigeria’s notorious secret police about 3.30pm (Nigerian Time) today stormed the conference hall of Social Action (SA), a nongovernmental organization in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State where a press conference addressed by officials of the Ogoni Civil Society Platform(OCSP) was taking place. The state secret police issued an invitation request to Mr. Celestine Akpobari, a prominent Ogoni activist and one of the leaders of OCSP, to see them in their office.
The press briefinghad addressed the massive land grabbing by the Rivers State Government led by Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the United Nations Environmental Program(UNEP) and oil exploration resumption plans in the Ogoniland. It was well attended by the Nigerian media and other civil society activists.
The SSS operatives who invaded the press briefing venue in a white Hilux with registration number- AJ180HDA, met with Akpobari, who also doubles as a program officer for Social Action, and demanded that he should follow them (SSS operatives) to see the Rivers State Director of SSS, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje.
At about 6.30 pm, Akpobari in the company of human rights attorneys Victoria Ohaere, program officer of the Lagos-based Social Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and Michael Kanikpo of the Benin, Edo State-based Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of The Earth Nigeria(FoEN) in response to the SSS invitation visited the Old GRA, headquarters of the SSS. The lawyers who accompanied Celestine Akpobari were denied access to him by the SSS. SaharaReporters reliably gathered from an operative there that the director questioning the Ogoni detainee about the new face of the Ogoni struggle, protests etc. And that the new SSS boss has come under intense pressures from Amaechi who calls him at odd hours to find out what the Ogonis are up to this time around.
SaharaReporters called the mobile phone number of Agbaje, to find out details about the latest witch-hunt of Ogoni campaigners by his agency, but he never picked his call. Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Ogoni Civil Society Platform (OCSP), Barrister Michael Kanikpo condemned in strong terms the intimidation and harassment of its officials.
At the time of this report, Akpobari Celestine was still with the SSS at their torture chambers in Port Harcourt.