The immediate past Bayelsa State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd), whose defection with others to the All Progressives Congress (APC), 19 days ago caused a stir, has died in Lagos.
The announcement came just as the former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and governorship aspirant in Bayelsa State on the platform of the APC, Mr. Timi Alaibe, on Wednesday denied some online reports that the late Inokoba died in his house in Lagos.
According to a statement issued by his eldest son, Waripamo, Inokoba,his 67-year-old father was said to have slumped and died in Lagos while on a private visit to his family.
Although information about how he died is still sketchy, insinuations flying around political circles has it that he may have died of food poisoning, while others claimed that the deceased’s health was frail and has been a regular visitor to various hospitals abroad, having recently slumped at a public gathering.
Inokoba only procured his Expression of Intent and Nomination Forms at the APC secretariat in Abuja to contest the governorship election primary of the party on Monday, barely 24 hours before he died.
Inokoba, a political loyalist of former President Goodluck Jonathan had been at loggerheads with Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State over the control of the PDP in the state until the state chapter of the party suspended him.
All efforts by Dickson and the party at the state level to remove him proved abortive until he defected to the APC three weeks ago.
According to his son, yesterday: “My father slumped at about 2am in the early hours of Wednesday and was confirmed dead before he was taken to the hospital. Some of our people are on their way to Lagos to bring back his body.”
The Inokoba family, in a terse statement signed by the deceased’s elder brother, Mr. Clee Inokoba and first son, confirmed the incident.
However, in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday in Lagos, Alaibe said his attention had been drawn to a fabricated, wicked falsehood published online by www.africanexaminer.com on the report of the unfortunate death of Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd); “our beloved former Chairman of the Bayelsa State Chapter the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress.
“But to my greatest shock today, online publishers started flooding my telephone line with calls on the veracity of the report they heard concerning the death of Inokoba at my residence in Lagos. To those who tried to verify, we salute their deep sense of professionalism.
“I want to categorically and honestly state here that I have been in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja since the beginning of the week and I neither invited our beloved chairman to my house nor anywhere in Lagos State for that matter for any discussion or negotiation about the impending gubernatorial primary of our party in Bayelsa State, as insinuated in the false report.
“This is part of the figment of the imaginations of those who see my entry into the governorship race in my state as a big threat to them.
“Indeed, they should be worried because Bayelsa State had been held under the clutches of characters who believe in the continued subjugation of the teeming members of the public, treating them as vassals and slaves,” Alaibe said in the statement.
He said for the avoidance of doubt, Chief Inokoba was a respected party leader, who inspired confidence in members of the party and whose loss is a great misfortune to the APC as a party.
One of the early sympathisers to the house was the former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Indutimi Komonibo, in his condolence message in a register opened at the home of the deceased stated that, “You are a great loss to us. Hard to believe. But no one can question God.”
The Bayelsa State Government in its condolence, expressed shock over the demise of the former state PDP chairman. According to the Statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, “the death of retired Colonel Inokoba is sad and a painful loss to the State.”
“He will be greatly missed by his family and close associates especially the political class. We pray that God grants the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss as well as grant his soul eternal rest. We assure the family of the Government’s preparedness to support and participate in the rites of passage for the late Col. Inokoba”
Also reacting to the death, the former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, described the late Inokoba as a great community leader and an intelligent politician whose contributions to society will be missed by the whole Bayelsa and indeed, Nigeria.
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, Sylva said Wednesday’s death of Inokoba had left a vacuum that would be impossible to fill.
Inokoba, a former PDP Bayelsa State chairman, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) about a fortnight ago alongside more than 1000 PDP members.
Sylva, who is also the state’s APC leader, stated: “The news of the death of Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd) was a terrible shock to me, my family, and the entire All Progressives Congress family both in Bayelsa State and Nigeria, in general. We share the grief of his family and friends.
“Inokoba was not only close to me, personally, but as a new convert to the current change agenda in Bayelsa State, we shared dreams of a better state, thoughts about the challenges ahead, and regrets about the condition of things in our state. He leaves a vacuum that can never be filled. His intellect, political sagacity, insight, and passion for the state, the Ijaw nation, and Nigeria, generally, were wonderful qualities that we cherished.
The former governor, however, said the people of the state would take solace in the political and communal legacies left by Inokoba.