-I Can’t Oppose Govt. Policies, Says Monarch
-Council Chair Defends Actions
–Majemite Is Doing The Right Thing —PG
–Affected Traders Groan, Count Losses
By Daniel Dafe
A party chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, Chief Dele Urowayino, has condemned the demolition of illegal structures in Ethiope East Local Government Area, adding that the Chairman of the council and her party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the area were determined to witch-hunt members of the APC in the locality.
Urowayino spoke to Oasis Magazine (OM) during an exclusive chat recently.
According to him, they approached the monarch when they learnt of the demolition arrangement by the council authority.
He however said he was aware that there was little or nothing the monarch could do in stopping the demolition since the council was bent on doing it.
His words: “The demolition in Abraka has a political undertone irrespective of the good they think it will achieve. We have credible information that they are determined to witch-hunt APC members in this area. For many years have you seen Majemite carry out any project in Abraka; why is it now that she has six months to go that she is demolishing illegal structures in Abraka?
“We expected her to have made an alternative for those affected first. The shops in the main market with solid structures long before now were allocated to only PDP members since they have been in power. Also, 95 percent of those affected by the demolition in the main market are APC members because they are majorly the ones with the caravans.
“Now, they have extended their demolition to the small market because the traders there pay rent to a member of the Ogboru family. I am sure that tomorrow they might even extend the demolition to Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru’s residence and make it a market square just like Uduaghan said he could do when he was in power.
“Nobody has a monopoly of trouble but we have decided not to take laws into our hands. I also learnt that they are writing names of traders affected by the demolition who are PDP members and hoping to relocate them.”
He called on APC traders affected to relocate to any of Oria, Erho or Urhuovie markets because they cannot sit at home, as he urged those affected to maintain peace and take the legal path in seeking for justice.
He continued: “I also learnt that soon they will go to private residences owned by APC members in the community and give them all kinds of levies to pay. We are waiting for them.”
A petition written by the party in the council area to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), dated March 15, 2019, made available to Oasis Magazine (OM), said that members of the APC have been suffering torture and untold hardships in the hands of members of PDP in Ethiope East Local Government Area for voting against PDP. This, the party said, started after the guber result was declared by INEC on the 9th of March, 2019.
The said petition narrated how a ward Assistant Women Leader, Mrs. Karo Oshemu was beaten up and had her palm fruits scattered on the ground in Eku market by PDP members, noting that “this was done because she campaigned vigorously against the PDP. Mrs. Oshemu was also banned from selling in the market. It took the intervention of other APC women faithful to resist the ban.”
This happened on the 14th of March, 2019.
Also, on the 15th of March, 2019 at Kokori, Mr. Tivi Obi, a commercial motorcycle rider was also tortured and his motorcycle seized because he refused to show the revenue collectors (who are PDP members) his particulars and failure to put on his helmet despite that he had his helmet with him.
The said petition also showed that he was asked to pay a fine of N5, 000 for his motorcycle before it would be released to him, adding that his offence is that he is an APC member.
In addition, the petition showed that Fidelis Ogbeta and Obakore Ogbeta, both members of APC who work in PRESCO, were seriously beaten to the point of death.
The petition also read: “Our members now live in fear of battering, molestation and threat to their lives and properties. We do not want to resort to self-help. But, we shall not hesitate to embrace self-defense theory with a view to protecting our lives and property if the situation is not brought under control.”
Meanwhile, the Ovie of Oruarivie-Abraka Kingdom has said that though he is the traditional ruler in the place, he does not have the right to oppose government policies.
He said: “I had to explain the dynamics of government to those that came to me to stop the demolition exercise. I can only advice and support the government to ensure that there are no crisis.
“The said demolition in the market is necessary because those trading there are risking their lives. We do not want the tragedy of what happened in places like Abavo to repeat itself here. Also, I have once gotten my car scratched when I tried to pass the area close to the main market.
“At several occasions I have tried to with the community leaders clear up the traders close to the road there but because we did not have the force of law, it did not work out and they always came back to their trading spot. I had the option of using brute force, but I did not want my good intentions misconstrued.
“Also, I was told by the council chairman that the demolition at the main market is not selective.”
On her part, the council Chairman, Hon. Chief (Mrs.) Faith Majemite has said that “a safer and cleaner Abraka was her priority.”
Majemite, during a press briefing said that the owners and occupants of those structures were given enough time and notice to do the needful.
She also debunked the rumour that she is on a vindictive mission against anyone. The council boss disclosed that Ethiope East council’s authority decided to embark on the exercise based on series of letters written to her on the need to save the lives of those trading along the high way, including demolishing structures built under high electric power tension cables.
She also told journalists that several stakeholders’ meeting was held where traders and occupants were briefed accordingly.
The council boss also enjoined those affected to exercise patience, as alternative means will be provided for them.
She assured everyone that a brand new modern market has been proposed to take off.
In the same vein, the President-General of the kingdom, Chief Emmanuel Idoghor, has backed the council Chairman, as he commended her for taken the bold step to clean up the community by demolishing all illegal structures.
According to him, three months ago, he was at the residence of Chief Majemite in Agbara-Otor on invitation and was briefed about the planned demolition and directed to inform traders in the community.
Continuing, he disclosed that his wife and daughters were affected during the demolition in the main market.
He debunked the report that names of PDP members affected during the demolition were been written to enable the council relocate them.
“I saw some persons writing names. But, it was not a directive of the council. At the same time, I observed that it was not selective too. I suspect that some fraudsters did it to make money from the affected traders,” he noted.
On the demolition of the small market close to Site II of Delta State University, Abraka, he said: “The laws do not allow an individual own a market. I am also aware that the person that owns the land was collecting money from the traders but was not remitting a dime to the council.”
Speaking further, he said: “Now, those affected in APC have been lobbying me to come to their aid. When I was beaten up and wounded during the just concluded elections, did I see any APC member or leader visit me?
“All those aggrieved should go to court or take to farming. No one must take the laws into their hands. The council is doing the right thing by demolishing all illegal structures in the town. What she is doing now will beautify the whole place and there will be free flow of vehicular movements henceforth.
“Any building under any high tension cable is supposed to be demolished and the land housing such structures belongs to the council and they can do anything they like with such buildings.
“What has delayed the building of a befitting market in Abraka is the issue of land. The king has tried his best to persuade his subjects to donate their land to the government to carry out this project. Many refused to yield. But now, we will forcefully take any land fit for this purpose and give it to the Okowa-led government to build our market for us.”
David Okoebor, who deals on phone accessories, described the demolition of his shop as surprising, adding that his only source of livelihood was destroyed and no alternative was made available by the council.
He said: “Now, I am roaming the streets because there is nothing to do. At the moment, I had to take some little alcohol to keep me from getting frustrated.
“I did not get any notice from the government about the planned demolition.”
He appealed to the government to help get all those affected another shop or assist them financially to start a new life.
Another trader who does not want her name in print said the demolition was good, but not carried out at the right time.
She quizzed: “I borrowed money from LAPO. How do I pay back now?”