BY EMMA AMAIZE & FESTUS AHON
KOKORI—WOMEN in Kokori, the country home of arrested suspected Delta State kingpin, Kelvin Oniarah, who protested nude, weekend, over alleged desecration of the community’s ‘Igban’ shrine by soldiers, formed a human shield around the shrine, yesterday, to stop military men from destroying it.
It was gathered that the women, who alleged that they saw soldiers with motor-saws, yesterday morning, formed a wall around the shrine and dared the soldiers to shoot them.
The women said they would rather die than allow soldiers to despoil the community shrine, which is a symbol of their tradition.
At 12noon, the women were still in a running battle with soldiers, who they prevented from entering the shrine.
The irate women had on Saturday evening marched round the community, reigning curses on soldiers for coming back to destroy the shrine after the first attempt.
The angry women were joined, Sunday morning, by youths, who also deposited a coffin at the palace of their embattled monarch, Ogurime-Rime, Ukori 1, which they broke into and vandalized.
It was gathered that Sunday protest by women and youths was to show their anger over the disquieting silence of the monarch, his chiefs and leaders of Kokori in the face of the siege to the community by security agents.
However, Kokori Elites, who met in Warri, Sunday, decried the invasion of the community by soldiers, destruction of Kokori shrine and arrest of the Ose Egba, who is only the chief priest of the shrine, belonging to the entire community.
The elites urged government to withdraw soldiers from the community, as they were causing tension and aggravating the already bad situation with their actions.
A committee, which included Chief Efe Akpofure, SAN, Chief Peter Igho, Roselinne Eshalomi , Chief William Onakpome as members was set up to liaise with the government on one hand, the women and youths on the other, on how to resolve the problem.
The elites also frowned at the role of a vigilance group leader from Ughelli, who was alleged to have led soldiers to the shrine, saying tthat he destruction of the shrine was at the root of the problem.
While they condemned criminality by any of their children, the leaders said the issue of non-development of Kokori should not be swept aside and called for understanding of government for the plight of the people.
They called for the release of the chief priest, Michael Omonigho.