YENAGOA—TONGUES are wagging in Bayelsa State over the tribulations of a paramount ruler and political kingmaker in the oil-rich state, King Amalate Johnnie Turner, who, a gang of 25 gun-totting bandits attacked and looted his country home, Opume, Ogbia Local Government Area of the state, penultimate Saturday.
The invasion came about two months after security officials, purportedly members of the Department of State Services, DSS, stormed the Abuja residence of the monarch, a close friend of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, in search of unspecified records.
Political watchers are, however, wondering if the Obigbo Mikimiki I of Opume, whose conspicuous role in the consecration of top politicians in the state, including the incumbent governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, is a source of envy to his opponents, has come under attack for supporting the political ambitions of his friends.
They see the show of aggression as something borne out of malice, arising from his political sagacity and not from any known infraction as a royal father.
But, what has become apparent in the unfolding saga is that this is not a splendid time for the paramount ruler, who assumed the kingship of the riverside community, about nine years ago.
Joyous villagers hailed his choice by the community’s kingmakers as the beginning of a new era of peace; harmony and growth in the area, but those not happy with his style of leadership see him as a politician in royal paraphernalia. The intrigues have exacerbated rather than douse matters in the town.
Relationship with Jonathan
Niger Delta Voice gathered that his relationship with Dr. Jonathan, who hails from the neighbouring hamlet of Otuoke, stretches back to their early school days and during the latter’s presidency, he relocated to Abuja.
He chaired a major Federal parastatal and served as a sort of unofficial contact man for several persons seeking to interact with the president. He is one of his trusted confidants.
One problem to another
However, since Jonathan lost the Presidential election in 2015, King Turner has found himself in one soup or the other, fuelling the impression that some people were after him for clandestine reasons.
Undoubtedly, his status as a community leader appears to have suffered a reversal in the eyes of some political actors in the state.
He woke up mid-February to hear that a group of persons who claimed to be members of the Department of State Services stormed his Abuja home. No security agency or official informed him of the said search and he was not present when the invaders struck.
When reports of the incursion leaked on the social media, the executors claimed they discovered currency in foreign and local denominations and documents connected to unnamed financial transactions in the domicile.
The reason advanced for the intrusion was that King Turner is a “close associate of the former President.”
Two months after the incident, nobody has offered further explanation on the offensive.
However, NDV could not verify if DSS officials actually carried out the invasion as speculated.
One of the discernible backlashes against the monarch was during the December 2015 re-election of Governor Dickson. Some powerful figures from his community, formerly his loyalists, announced their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the opposition party and made it plain that they took the decision to undermine his authority.
His response to the political betrayals was mature and fatherly. First, he declared that their decision to abandon the party that had nurtured their careers was one they had every right to make.
He, nevertheless, appealed to the absconders to avoid violence and abusive language in their campaigns and continued his efforts to inaugurate a number of key initiatives in the community, which showed that his major impulses were non-partisan.
For example, he completed the construction and equipping of a library and computer centre for the use of young people of the community.
King Turner also encouraged the completion of a new Ring Road to improve access to the community, as well as upgraded classrooms of both primary and secondary schools in the locality.
Asked the rationale of the initiatives, he said that he wanted his reign to be one in which the education of the youth was a paramount achievement, regardless of the political direction community members followed.
The most recent outrage against King Turner was the attack on his country home, which has left many observers bewildered.
The sound of gunshots and the loud revving of powerful outboard engines on the creek rudely awakened villagers, penultimate Saturday.
Before they could unravel what was amiss, about 25 heavily armed young men, who moored their 200 horsepower speedboats at the outskirts of the town, had surrounded the home of the deputy chair of the Council of Chiefs of Opume, Chief Idiki Akpana.
They roused the old man from sleep and beat him mercilessly, after which they forced him to take them to King Turner’s compound at the other end of the town.
Unknown to them, King Turner was away attending the funeral ceremonies of the late Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, pioneer governor of the state, in Yenagoa and Amassoma.
“The destruction and sheer brutality displayed by the attackers suggest that they had come prepared to do their worst and would not have been contented simply to rob and pillage the property as they did if they had met the King at home,” an eyewitness told Niger Delta Voice.
He disclosed: “They turned over every room of the substantial residence and tore open parts of the ceiling in an apparent search for loot.”
Another eyewitness, who watched from a distance in the dark hours, said the attackers made away with valuable property, adding, “But, I do not know if they collected substantial sums of money.”
Monarch silent as police confirm invasion
Police authorities confirmed the attack, but King Turner himself has been calculatingly quiet, only reported to have said that his wife and relatives had their rooms stripped and whatever they had that was of value stolen.