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Monday, February 26, 2024

“I Need A Public Assurance From The President” – Open Letter To President Jonathan by Chief Timipre Sylva



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Chief Timipre Sylva, Former Governor of Bayelsa State





As I write you this letter, Mr. President, Sir, I feel a spell of grief in me, not because I have lost the office of Governor, but because of the totally unjust way, manner, reason and people used to remove me from office and the wave of state persecution still lynching on me. Most painful is that it is you, the President that is at the centre of it all. I believe I have not done anything wrong personally to you to deserve this. If on issues of performance as Governor, and popularity as a politician in Bayelsa State, comparatively, the records are clearly in my favour. But I know we have had political differences in the past and sometimes disagreed openly on public policies and strategies. I have always believed that we did so for public good and never took it any further. It would seem, however, that Mr. President has taken these disagreements too personal. In this case, I leave the matter in the able hands of God Almighty, our Creator.


In the discharge of my official duties to my country as a public servant, as an Honourable Member in the House of Assembly, as a Special Assistant to the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and as a Governor of Bayelsa State, I have been mindful of and guided by the provisions of the law, and had always acted in the best interest of the public. On this point, I can confidently say that I have absolutely nothing to hide and I desire to come and face the law. But I have a grave fear that I might end up coming to face trumped-up charges, not necessarily relating to my public service, but on pure and baseless political vendetta that can cost me my very life.


If only the President can apply empathy in reasoning out this matter, that is putting yourself in my position, surely you will agree with me that the events leading to my removal as Governor of Bayelsa State cast ominously dark clouds over the intentions of the federal government towards me. Apart from the fact that the whole world knows that it is you who denied me the right to contest my party’s nomination and consequently the general election, however, in the desperate attempt to justify to the Nigerian public this infringement, the federal government falsely accused me of treason; a charge that carries the death penalty. It was publicly stated by the party and even security officials then that it was my immunity as a serving Governor that hindered my arrest. Although, I flatly denied this evil accusation and called you to witness, not a word came from you either publicly or privately to me on this very grave claim.


Please also recall how immediately following my exclusion from the governorship contest, Bayelsa State, particularly the state capital, Yenagoa, including the Government House, was completely over run by the Armed Forces, Police and other Security Agencies in a war-like invasion. As a Governor, my constitutional immunity was ignored and I had to escape for my dear life. Even plain administrative requirement of simply applying in writing for the use of a state property was abused and the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa, was forced open by armed security personnel to conduct the so-called People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries.


In addition, after my removal from office, your utterances against my person and government clearly betrayed a deep-seated odium in you for me. For example, the Timi Alaibe Panel, set up to investigate my administration, is composed of my arch political rivals, which betrayed the ill-determination of the government to be unfair and unjust to me. Leadership has moral standards, but with all due respect to the office of the President, I can impassively say that in your dealings with me since my taking over from you the governorship office of Bayelsa State, your actions and attitude have fallen far below the universally acceptable standards. With all these, therefore, I cannot in all honesty say that I still have any modicum of trust in you on any matter concerning me, especially when my life is on the line.


Consequently, I demand from you, Mr. President, a public statement that I have no treason allegation against me as put out during the desperate days to deny me the governorship contest; that the claim was untruly made in the heat of the moment, and an assurance that such a trumped-up charge shall not be levelled against me. My fear is not that any such charge, if made, shall be proven – I know it cannot because I committed no such offence – but having seen how the Judiciary operated in cases where the President has vested interest, I fear that the President can make any trumped-up charge against me stick in the courts. On this point, I may well remind the President how a Court Order was conjured like magic and handed to INEC to substitute my name for Hon. Seriake Dickson as the PDP gubernatorial candidate for Bayelsa State. Had my life been on the line on that matter, I would have long been a condemned man.


Notwithstanding, in the course of all these injustices and impunities against me and our democracy, I maintained a wilful silence as I pursued and tried to defend and advance my cause peacefully and through the law. This is well in line with my acclaimed disposition and character of being a man of peace, honesty, and respect for the rule of law as well as a patriot and a democrat. Honest Bayelsans will attest to this claim since I joined active politics in 1991.


I am due to appear before the Court of Law in Abuja on May 8th, 2012 on financial charges brought against me by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. I have no problem with that as I believe I can defend each and every action I took in office as Governor and I earnestly desire to come defend and clear myself of these charges, but my fear of being framed-up by the federal government on diabolical political charges are well founded. I therefore in good faith make the above demand of the President to enable me come and defend myself. Without immunity and without such a public statement and assurance from you, and given how far you stretched yourself in the past against me, sometimes at the risk of dislocating the entire national democratic structure and bringing to ridicule the sanctity of the judiciary, I am afraid, in all honesty, I cannot risk appearing in public anywhere in Nigeria while you superintend over the affairs of the country as President. In other words, I cannot entrust my life in your hands as I am not sure of the limit you can go in your intentions against me. This demand, therefore, is made as a condition-precedent to my appearing in court. If, however, this demand is not granted, then I will be left with no choice but to leave Nigeria and formally apply for Political Asylum in a foreign country on the ground of political persecution till such a time when you vacate office as President of Nigeria.


I hope you will give this letter the seriousness it deserves by kindly acceding to my demand.


Thank you.


Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.




The Senate President

The Chief Justice of Nigeria

The Speaker, House of Representatives

The Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party

The Inspector General of Police

The Directors General, Directorate of State Security Service and National Intelligence Agency

The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission

The President, Nigerian Bar Association




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