By Daniel Dafe
The situation in Eku Community, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State can be described as tensed, owning to the glaring collision between interests amongst members of the Eku Traditional Council over who controls the affairs of the body, even though there are clearly laid down rules about what is obtainable.
Oasis Magazine (OM) embarked on a visit to the community to investigate allegations and counter allegations from conflicting parties.
Although the number two man in the Eku Traditional Council, Chief Godwin Aganbi, debunked the reports, saying that all is well, the immediate past Secretary General of Eku Traditional Council, Chief Matthew Erhijakpor expressed disgust at the manner in which Chief Aganbi has tried to Lord over the new Odjisi that was recently sworn in to replace his predecessor who died late last year.
The Odjisi is the oldest man in the community and is the head of the Council.
According to Erhijakpor, he has been reappointed as the General Secretary of the body by the new Odjisi.
He alleged: “Aganbi does not want me because he knows that I will expose his illicit financial deals. The state of our accounts is known to only him.”
He continued: “The issue at hand is that of the right of the Odjisi. Since the last one died in September, Aganbi has become power drunk that even though a new Odjisi has come in, he still wants to lord over him.
“Okakuru has appointed the Secretary and the regent who represents him, but Aganbi is still opposed to my appointment. From time immemorial it has been the prerogative of the Odjisi to appoint his Secretary. Aganbi accepted that of the regent but said no to my appointment as secretary. This has led to a lot of talks and debates in the community.
“He called the vigilante to himself and started using them to fight his enemies. He used the boys to destroy the houses of people. Last two weeks he brought police to the floor of the palace to arrest one Okoro. Why the choice of the palace to arrest someone.
“Last Saturday when the same Okoro was doing his cousin’s burial somewhere in the town, he (Aganbi) mobilsed these boys to go and scatter the burial. It was the intervention of the soldiers on ground that saved the situation.
“Recently, a day to the palace meeting when my appointments and others were supposed to be ratified, he brought in police through the vigilante to arrest the same Okoro again. The vigilante intimidated us by shooting guns.
“It is his personal ambition to lord it over the Okakuro. The whole community is not in support of his actions. He should submit himself as the spokesman to the Odjisi and not act as the Odjisi to the Odjisi.”
On the Iwevbo/Ovre-Eku crisis, he commended Aganbi for setting up the Committee under Chief Agagagaraga, adding that the spokesman in this regard has good intentions.
Also, a community leader who spoke to us under conditions of anonymity said that Chief Godwin Aganbi is the one instigating the crisis in the community.
“He is the spokesman. There is no room for Prime Minister. He is trying to intimidate everyone opposed to his draconian rule. He is bent on getting them off the scene with the help of the police. One time he used the vigilante to arrest people. They go around town with pump action.
“80 percent of them are hired from somewhere to help Chief Aganbi foist his wishes on Eku people. It is quite unfortunate that this is happening in the community. If not for the intervention of some prominent persons, the town would have been turned upside down because we would have retaliated.
“My greatest concern is how they come up with AK47. They have turned the community to a war zone.
“For the past years, the community account is not known to anybody. He feels those appointed by the Odjisi will leak out some secrets,” he said.
Furthermore, he called on those aggrieved in the community to avoid reprisal attacks and allow the law take its cause.
On his part, Henry Williams, a retired sergeant from the army, said that they have a greater advantage if they decide to retaliate, saying that they chose the option of peace to avert chaos in the area.
His words: “They know that if we sleep and go to the Ogwa we will install Chief Erhijakpor and Chief Avwerosuo Okoro so they decided to detabalise us through police arrest.
“Too many things are wrong in the community. Imagine vigilante mounting a checkpoint and using arms to collect money from okada riders. Many of the vigilantes are not from this community. We don’t know them.”
On the appointment of Gagagara to head the Comiittee to broker peace in Iwevbo he said the community leaders would have looked for a neutral person and not one from a faction.
Reacting to the allegations, Aganbi debunked them, saying that the present Secretary served for over 10 years and that in January he was dropped after the Council said that the secretary henceforth should be a university graduate and that his assistant who is a graduate has tak en over.
“I think the new Odjisi’s children are the ones causing the trouble. We went for meeting on Thursday last week and discovered that the palace was locked. We broke the key and held our meeting. The minutes in January were we took the decision about the Secretary to drop him was read. And all present endorsed it and supported the move. I am in good terms with the new Odjisi. He actually sent his PA to that meeting to represent him.”
On the age-long tradition of the Okakuro appointing the secretary, he argued that the secretary is not his (Odjisi) secretary but that of the Council and that the Council has taken the decision to drop Erhijakpor who performed meritoriously during his tenure and this decision stands.
At the time of filing of filing this report, several arrests have been made, but the number of those in police custody and whose side they belong in the matter could not be ascertained.
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