Over 1,000 youths elders on Tuesday took to the streets in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, to support the recent arrest and prosecution of a former top official of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), George Turnah.
The embattled legal practitioner was alleged by the youths to have fraudulently enriched himself while he served as Special Adviser to two Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the NDDC between 2012 and 2015.
The youths who carried placards with various inscriptions commended the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) for his arrest.
The groups lamented that they were shocked to hear the revelation of how he shortchanged them during the period.
According to them, the painful part of the entire saga was the Niger Delta Volunteer Program which was designed to empower 2,000 youths of the region for four years with a monthly stipend of one hundred and fifty thousand naira but he allegedly choose to pay them seventy thousand naira.
They accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of giving Turnah the audacity to operate in an agency as sensitive as the NDDC without being checkmated, leading to his involvement in the monumental fraud.
Their protest was coming on the heels of a similar accusation leveled against Jonathan by Chief Perekeme Richard Kpodoh, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former security adviser to the Bayelsa State Government.
Kpodoh who was also part of the protest had last weekend, lampooned those who were celebrating what he described as six wasted years of the Jonathan presidency, saying it is insulting and smacks of ignorance.
The APC leader had maintained that Jonathan failed to attract meaningful project to the region but watched with excitement as his aides, mainly from Bayelsa fretted the nation’s commonwealth through dubious and phantom projects.
One of the leader of the protesters, Harold Zoukumor while addressing the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Amba Asuqo said as concern indigenes of the region they are completely in solidarity with the EFCC for justice to prevail in the matter.
He said ” We have seen and read in the media, the recent arrest and detention of Mr. George Turnah. It is our desire that all said funds recovered from him be returned to the youths of the region for further development of their capacity as well as enhance the living standard of the people.
“His action was a clear case of fraud which has impoverished the ordinary people especially the youths more. So we insist that the loot must be returned to either the NDDC or any agency to be disbursed to the youths because it is our money and we appeal to you to use your good office to work in line with our request.”
In his response, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police thanked them for the peaceful way they conducted themselves and assured them that their letter will get to the right place.
Turnah is now standing trial before Justice Ibrahim Watilat of the Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on a 12-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, money laundering and abuse of office.