By Our Correspondents
Tension mounts at Ogharafe, the administrative headquarters of Ethiope West council, as placard carrying protesting youths, women and elders from Ovade-Oghara community, invaded their council headquarters, calling on their son and brother, Hon. Ben Igbakpa to leave them alone.
The people who came into the council’s premises in their large number with placards bearing inscription such as ‘Ben is the problem of Ovade’, ‘Ben leave Ovade alone so that we can develop’, ‘Ben stop instigating crisis in Ovade’, ‘Ben remove your hand from Ovade’, ‘Ben when will you stop the killing and intimidation in Ovade’, ‘Ben Igbakpa A.K.A Pharoah of Ovade’, ‘We don’t want committee in Ovade’, ‘Committee must go’ and ‘Ben Igbakpa and committee instigate crisis for their selfish interest’.
Other placards read: ‘We want Ejiro Efetobor for continuity’, ‘Ben and Hitler Igbakpa are the problem of Ovade, etc.
The protesters told the council Secretary, Hon. Moses Okwe and security agencies in the area that government should intervene in their community to ensure the persons mentioned to live their community alone for peace to thrive.
The spoke person of the group, Mr. Felix told the representative of the council Chairman, Mr. Okwe and other security personnel present that the entire people of Ovade Oghara Community are already tired and fed up with the leadership of the committee members which they alleged was constituted by Hon Ben Igbakpa for his selfish interest.
Mr. Felix Ighoyivwi alleged that the problem of the community is brought about by their brother, Hon Igbakpa, adding that this started in 2007 when one Mr. Ejiro Efetobor was elected into office as the community chairman but was scuttled by the same Hon Igbakpa who they claimed asked Ejiro to step down to enable him (Ben ) be in charge.
This, he said eventually resulted to the large scale crisis that led to killings, destruction of properties and the eventual incarceration of Ejiro on trump up allegation of a murder but was later discharged and acquitted by a competent court.
The protesters claimed further that as we speak, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the community and pan ocean company operating in the area has just been signed, for Hon Ben and his cohorts excluding other members of the community who are already homeless as a result of cultists and kidnappers they alleged were in imported to the village to chase them away.
They added that while their leader (Mr Ejiro Efetobor) was in detention, Ben Igbakpa constituted a committee headed by his uncle, Mr. Hitler Igbakpa to run the affairs of the community so that all benefits derivable from Pan-Ocean Company can come to him, excluding other members of the community.
Mr. Felix spoke further: “As we speak, there is a certain benefit the community gets from Pan-Occean, but they have all been monetised and paid to Hon Ben Igbakpa.
“As we speak, another MoU has been signed by Ben Igbakpa and his brother with his cohorts with Pan-Ocean and whenever there is crisis, Hitler benefits from all the crisis. He is recognised as the sole head of Ovade community and at the end of the day he and Ben Igbakpa share the proceeds. Was Ovade sold to Hon Ben Igbakpa and other members of the committee?”
In their separate responses, Mr. Akeni Sunday, Elder Emmanuel Emagbuku, Lucky Akeni, Abboy Onomroba, Nathaniel Edozie, Mrs. Beatrice Umukoro and Mrs. Omatie Ejomafuwe, appealed to the government of Delta State to come urgently to their rescue by chasing all the cultists and kidnappers from the community and as well reinstate their brother, Mr. Ejiro as their leader since they are tired of the committee put in place by Hon Ben Igbakpa.
They agreed that their brother Ejiro’s regime has been beneficial to them since he gave jobs and as well created a very peaceful and conducive atmosphere for them in the community.
According to Mr. Nathaniel Edozie, “Ejiro is a born leader, a good man; Ejiro is our choice. Since 2007, there has been lot of problems in the community. Ben is using his advantaged position to bring people into the community to cause crisis instead of creating peace in the community.
“As I speak now, there are lots of cultists in the community, vandalizing properties, killing goats, dogs, rapping women and we are scared of going back home. We are appealing to the government to come to our rescue. We no longer have homes because we have been chased from our own community. Ejiro should come back to his position.”
On his part, Mr. Hitler Igbakpa, the current chairman of the committee who spoke on behalf of himself and Ben Igbakpa, explained that the allegations are not correct as they are baseless and unfounded, remarking further, “the former leader, Mr. Ejiro Efetobor has been in power for 15 years and does not want to leave. This is the issue because he has over stayed his tenure in office.”
Mr. Hitler while speaking on the allegation of the signed MoU, said: “How can a MoU represent the interest of few persons or an individual alone?
The MOU was signed in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice which represented Delta State government, while community leaders signed for the interest of the entire community.”
The committee chairman also added in a telephone conversation: “There is no cultist and kidnapper in Ovade because the place is peaceful as we speak.”
The secretary of Ethiope West council, Mr. Okwe who addressed the protesters in the presence of the DPO and SSS officials, assured them that their grievances will be channeled to the government for urgent intervention, appealing that dialogue remains the best option to issues and not violence nor lawlessness.