SAPELE — The chiefs and people of Egbema Kingdom, home base of Egbema Radical Group, ERG, the militia that claimed responsibility for the recent killing of 12 Itsekiri natives and the burning down of seven Itsekiri villages in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, have narrated how the mayhem began.
The Chiefs and people of Egbema Kingdom, who addressed newsmen in Sapele, Sapele Local Government Area of the state, speaking through their leader, Chief Wilfred Elebiri, said taht after the Ogbe-Ijaw/Ogidigben crisis of 1996/1997, which was caused by the earlier siting of the council headquarters of Warri South West in Ogidigben, which was subsequently moved to Ogbe-Ijaw and which ended the crisis, the people of the kingdom agreed not to in any part of the state, cause trouble.
Chief Elebiri, said when the issue of marginalisation of the Egbema people in Warri North Local started recently in Koko, headquarters of the council, to the effect that Egbema Ijaw people in the council were being marginalised and had not been given the opportunity to be chairman of the council, the Egbema people also came together and resolved that the agitation for power sharing in the council between the Egbema Ijaw people and their Itsekiri counterparts would be pursued peacefully.
The people said that they were all surprised when a few youths in the kingdom defiled that resolution, and vowed to take laws into their hands, and unleashed mayhem on fellow Ijaw people, who do not want the use trouble to address the problem. “At that point, the chiefs and people of the community reported them to the Joint Military Task Force, JTF, which came to the scene with a view to bringing lasting peace to the area. In the process, some youths were arrested and some of their camps burnt by JTF to deter them from further attacking innocent people.
“Some of the hoodlums, who were then arrested are currently been tried at the Magistrate‘s court in Koko, the council headquarters while those convicted of sundry criminal charges are currently serving several jail terms in Sapele prisons. Some of them who escaped arrest ran to certain villages in Bayelsa State, where they regrouped and recruited more hoodlums to their number, which eventually grew to be more formidable. It was this new group that adopted the name “Egbema Radical Group.
“After the raid by JTF, ERG, in an attempt to carry out a reprisal attack, started unleashing mayhem on fellow Ijaw people of the Egbema Kingdom, who they felt reported them to JTF, during which process they kidnapped three people, Fredrick Jero, Kenneth Biogha and Victor Goro, while another set of three victims escaped from their den. Those kidnapped were eventually released by JTF after a gun battle.
“The ERG also attacked one Rev. Sunny Zero in Izion Community, an Ijaw suburb, and razed down his houses and a church building on April 16, 2013, in further retaliation to the JTF clampdown.”
The Chief said that those who were responsible for the mayhem were, indeed sea pirates and criminals, who also robbed their victims on the Egbema-Benin River, in the pretext of agitating for political equilibrium, and called on security agencies to arrest, disarm and try them for the murder of innocent Itsekiri natives and burning down of their villages.