By Daniel Dafe
The case of breach of public peace slammed on three traders in Abraka main market, in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, Anthonia Oritsedere, Gloria Edah and Ese Oritsedere. has been adjourned to June 8, 2022.
The case with Charge No: MAB/16/2022 at the Chief Magistrate Court, Erho, which was earlier adjourned to Wednesday, was again adjourned after Chief EJ Efe, who represented the monarch, HRM Akomeyoma Majoroh Ojeta 11, said he was not prepared and was unaware that moves to settle out of court had failed.
The women were docked over protests of women and traders in the community on the 14th, 15th and 16th of February over alleged plans to sell the market to a private investor.
Chief (Prof) Ogbegbor, High Chief Comfort Okoro and Chief (Sir) Willy Akora, who spoke during the court sitting, told the shocked judge that their efforts to reconcile the king and the aggrieved women/traders failed, adding that they have done their best and have decided to drop this option since there was no success.
According to Chief Okoro, 4 chiefs tried to settle the matter, saying that it is shameful that such a problem was in their community.
“I appeal to the market women to calm down,” she told the traders who were in court in their numbers.
On his part, a heart-broken Chief Ogbegbor, said there was nothing more they could do as their effort to meet with the king failed.
“We did not succeed,” he said.
Also speaking, Chief Akora, said they did their best by involving stakeholders in the community.
Adding: “We were asked to go and apologize to the king but were unable to meet the king. Now, we have been told by the man next to him that the king has asked us to stay away from the case.”
He called on the legal representative of the king to advise the monarch to withdraw the case from the court.
“The community is not happy about the development. Barrister Efe who is representing the king here and also a co-chief should please appeal to the king to drop this case,” he added.
Speaking to Oasis Magazine, Lilian Omorogbe, the lawyer representing the traders, said “the matter was called today and it was a matter of settlement or hearing.”
She added: “The elders in the community came to report that settlement had broken down and that they tried to settle the women and the king and nothing came out of it. So we opted to hear the matter and go on with the matter and that is what happened in court this morning.
“It was adjourned because E.J. Efe and I needed time to consult with our witnesses and prepare for the matter. So it was adjourned to 8th of June.
On why the issue of settlement failed, she said: “I think both parties were not ready to lay their axes down. The women actually want peace. As at this morning when I interviewed some of them, they said they were there the previous day before yesterday from morning till about 3:00pm and nothing fruitful came out so they want the issue to go on.”
“The community women brought some of the vigilante to court over assault. They said some of them were assaulted, harassed and beaten and this case came up first before that of the Vigilantes.
“In one part of the case, the women are the defendants while in the other case they are the complainants. In the first part of the case that was called the women are the defendants. The vigilantes and the community are accusing them of breaching the peace and protesting that the market has been sold. While in the other case the women are claiming assault that the vigilantes were sent by the king to harass them in their homes.”
Speaking on the adjournment, she said: “We had a witness in court today but our interpreter was not available so it was based on this that we decided that we will put our heads together and on the next date which is on the 8th of June we will meet again.”
Oasis Magazine also spoke to one of the three defendants.
Narrating how they ended up in court, Edah alleged that their 7-day protest was in accordance with a directive of the traditional ruler.
“We attended a meeting with one Chief Tedwins and Chief Emudainohwo at the home of the oldest man in the community who claimed that they were sent by the king to direct us to do a protest over the sale of the market. I decided to gather the women for the protest because we are not happy that our land in the bush has been sold and now the market.
“We danced naked in the community. It was after the second day at about 1a.m., vigilante members stormed my residence and took me to the station. When I got there, the police man told me that the king, Barrister Emudainohwo and Chief Tedwin Emudainohwo said we are disturbing the peace of the town and I told them it is a lie that they are the ones that sent us to do what we are doing.
“They told me that I am the chairlady and asked for the coffin we used during the protest and I said there was no coffin with me and that I do not have anything to do with coffin.
“I told the police that we were asked to dance with the name of Ibani and Christoher Izu that they are the ones that sold the market.”
According to her, on Wednesday was the fourth time that they were in court over the matter.
Speaking further, she said the king also took them to Zone 5 where he petitioned the police that her family members burnt down his palace.
Meanwhile, one of the traders who was at the court premises, Mrs Isiorovoja said if they want to build market, the government should go extra mile and locate a new land, stressing that Abraka is big enough to have 2 or 3 markets.
“People are ready to pay for the stores if they do so,” she added.
Attempts to.speak with the monarch proved abortive at the time of filing this report. He did not pick his calls neither did he respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone number.
Contacted, Chief Tedwin said he preferred to keep mute on the issue because the matter is in court.
His words: “I have a pending legal action on the same issue which I do not want to comment on, it is also a fact that someone else has petitioned Zone 5.”
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