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Police arrest 2 at Itsekiri national confab

… they’re innocent, says Lori-Ogbebor

By Emma Arubi

WARRI — ANTI-terrorists policemen in Warri have arrested two Itsekiri youths for aligning with the recent Itsekiri National Conference (INC) held at the palace of HRM, Ogiame Atuwatse II, the Olu of Warri, to chart the new way forward for the Itsekiri nation.

However the Niger -Delta activist and opinion leader, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, to prevail on Delta State police command to release the Itsekiri youths, who were arrested during the Itsekiri National Conference (INC) , saying they are innocent.

The youths, (unidentified) are alleged to be staunch followers of Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, one of the modera-tors of the conference.

It would be recalled that the conference was penultimate weekend violently disrupted by some Itsekiri politicians who brought in thugs to invade the palace and scare participants away until soldiers were brought in to chase them away last Friday.

One of the suspects was said to have spent three days in police cell for allegedly leading angry Itsekiri youths to protest alleged sacrilegious acts of the politicians, while the other was picked up yesterday evening on his way home by the Red Berret anti-terrorist policemen who apparently laid ambush for him.

Threats have been issued by the said group to arrest and molest all known supporters of the INC, including some journalists doing their legitimate jobs, have variously been issued. by persons loyal to the anti-conference crusaders, thus creating tension in the oil city.

Speaking to Vanguard on the arrest, Mr. Amaechi Ogbonna, said he had received same but promised to pursue the Itsekiri interest at all cost.

He said it was shameful that little boys empowered only yesterday through government patronage have decided to ride roughshod on the Itsekiri nation and abuse the sensibilities of all discerning minds.

Expressing surprise at the involvement of the anti-terrorist group in a simple matter as a conference, he wondered why no arrest had been made of any member of the multitude that invaded and disrupted the conference, led by a former council chairman.

Opinion leader, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor,  appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, to prevail on Delta State police command to releasethe youths, saying they are innocent.

She also commended the Joint Task Force (JTF) on Niger Delta for providing security when armed youths invaded the venue of the INC.

Briefing newsmen yester-day in Lagos, Lori-Ogbebor disclosed that the youths in police custody only defen-ded the Olu of Warri’s palace when it was invaded by armed youths led by one security aide to Delta State governor.

According to her, “I am calling on the Inspector-General of Police to intervene in this issue. The state police commissioner should tell his men to stop arresting our youths. And the ones in custody should be released because they have done nothing wrong. The police is picking up youths who fought back when we were attacked.” They were in their homes, but only came when they heard that we were under siege.”

She further called on Delta state government to call  the people, who are perpetrating trouble in Itsekiri land to order, adding that it is the only way of preventing future crisis.

“The boys came into the palace cause problem. It was a mob action. The government need to look into this issue before it becomes totally bad.  I assembled people for the summit. In my letter to them I told them that there are those, who like to work in chaos while others like progress. It is in the interest of Itsekiri peace that we convened the conference,” she noted.

In addition Lori-Ogbebor said, “When the trouble started, I called the armed forces and they responded, otherwise there would have been bloodshed. They would have burnt down the palace. They did not want the proramme to continue and the communique to be read. Thank God that we succeeded. I am also grateful to JTF for responding and managing the situation properly.”


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