*Odimodi community rejects Delta govt verdict
*Accuses SSG, Burutu chair of partiality
*We’re not biased— Ebikeme Clark
By Emma Amaize
ODIMODI — WHEN Delta State Government set up a committee to mediate in the leadership crisis between two rival factions at Odimodi community, Burutu Local Government Area of the state, over a month ago, many heaved a sigh of relief. The community had been in turmoil for a long time and the August 31 invasion of the riverine settlement by suspected militants, who razed houses, was a clear indication that if not checked, there might be a total breakdown of law and order in the town.
However, the resolutions of the committee, headed by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Festus Agas, seemed to have aggravated the crisis, as the community is alleging perversion of justice.
The state government had in a letter, dated October 7, reference number, SC/T.6.Vol.78/191, from the Governor’s Office (Directorate of Political and Security Services), Asaba, addressed to the Chairman, Burutu Local Government, conveyed its decisions, which rather than douse frayed nerves, has generated fresh uproar in the oil-rich settlement.
The letter, signed by A. C. Abuah for the SSG is entitled, Resolutions at the peace meeting on the Odimodi community crisis held in the office of the Secretary to the State Government on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, read in part: “You will recall that following reports of threat to peace in Odimodi community arising from the leadership tussle in the community, Council directed that you, in liaison with the Pere of Iduwini Kingdom, should look into the matter with a view to resolving it.
“After meeting with the parties involved in the matter, another meeting was convened by the SSG on September 29, and the following resolutions were arrived at and agreed on by all the parties.
“The resolutions are as follows: that the Benjamin Gbesine, Peter Iyalagha-led executive and the Caretaker Committee led by Chief Alex Puk should be dissolved and a new Caretaker Committee headed by an Ifikorowei son, to be selected by the Eluwe Congress under the supervision of the Local Government Council Chairman;
“That all the community funds, henceforth, be paid directly into the community’s account; “That all the pending court cases should be withdrawn accordingly; “That government at all levels and oil companies, including those operating within Odimodi community network efforts to bring succour to the victims of the crisis; and
“That the security agency (JTF) should maintain surveillance for the time being in Odimodi till peace is fully restored to the community.”
The state government further directed the chair of the council, Mr. Ebikeme Clark, to ensure the implementation of the directives and warned that “anybody or group of persons” that breached the orders would be dealt with by the security agencies, which had been briefed to the effect.
Community snubs declaration
Few days after the council chair communicated the resolutions to the community, Odimodi sent a letter to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, rebuffing the said resolutions and asking him (governor) to call the SSG to order before he inflicts another crisis on Odimodi.
Signed by the Secretary/Spokesman, Amadiwei-in-Council, Elder Anthony Pudie, the community, which held an emergency meeting on October 10, said it was in receipt of the SSG correspondence, which threatened that security agencies had been directed to deal with anybody or group of persons that violates the unilateral resolutions of the SSG, nay, the state government.
The community said: “We immediately resolved to reject in very clear terms the so-called resolutions of your SSG because they were reached unilaterally and autocratically when we now run democratic institutions and decisions are arrived at democratically.
“This letter, therefore, is to inform you that we stand by the position of the Odimodi community handed over personally to the SSG himself and was signed for by him in the meeting of Tuesday, September 29, at the Conference Hall of the SSG.
“This letter is also to inform you that, we, as Odimodi community, have resolved this time, not ‘anybody or group of persons’ as anticipated by your SSG , to violate his skewed and unpopular resolutions and threats as expressed in the letter of October 7.
“We wait for your SSG to deal, albeit ruthlessly, with us because we say no to perversion of justice, which was deliberately executed to favour the individuals who took up arms against our community.
“A man or a community that is already knocked down by the unprovoked attack on community on August 31 fears no further fall.
‘Wrong use of discretion’
“To execute this fait accompli, we are shocked at the brazenness with which the SSG couched the bogus lie in his letter, dated October 7, wherein he stated in part, ‘After meeting with the parties involved in the matter, another meeting was convened by the SSG on September 29 and the following resolutions were arrived at and agreed on by all parties’.
“To say the least, this is dubious. The Odimodi community at no time agreed with position of the SSG on the change of leadership of the community, which was duly constituted in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Odimodi community, 1995.
“Rather, the Odimodi community insisted that the crimes against the community should be punished and this is clearly contained in ODI-2, which he received from the community. “Your Excellency would recall the mild drama which played out before you at the Security Council meeting of September 2 at the Government House, Asaba, which you chaired briefly before you left for a journey and handed over to the SSG to continue.
“Remember the skewed representation of Odimodi community: one (1) against four (4) in favour of the individuals, who burnt our community. The Odimodi community representative raised this issue at the meeting and you immediately reacted and corrected the anomaly and to put it in your own words, you said it was ‘a wrong use of discretion’.
“What is currently at play is the wrong use of the discretion by your SSG and Hon. Ebikeme Clark, who are bent on perverting the course of justice to shield their political associates from the crimes against our community and against Nigeria. “It is condoning of crimes of this nature that has turned into the hydra-headed security problems bedevilling our country.
“We believe that you have not been properly briefed and even if you have been briefed, you have been given a tainted and skewed version from the spectacles of heavily-compromised individuals, who are in pursuit of their primordial tendencies that create crisis where there is none.
Like Ekpan, like Odimodi!
“Recall that sometime in July, your SSG was accused by the Ekpan people of Uvwie Local Government Area of ‘undue partisan interference’ capable of causing violence in the community over the reverse of Community Liaison Officers appointed following expiration of their tenures, especially for Julius Berger.
“The exact same scenario is playing out on his resolutions in the burning down of the Odimodi community. “Finally, we urge you to take the wind out of the sail of your SSG, Mr. Ebikeme Clark and other known serving and immediate past representatives of the Delta State Government, who are bent on perverting justice.”
LG to enforce govt resolutions— Clark
Burutu Chair, Mr. Clark, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice on phone, dismissed the allegation of bias against him and the committee, saying the local government council would implement the resolutions of the state government to the letter. Firstly, he said, election of a new chair of the community would hold October 21, adding that those causing confusion in the community were those prevented from holding the community to ransom.
He explained that the committee visited the council and discovered that community’s money was been paid to personal accounts by some persons, who extort the community in several ways and government decided that the impunity must stop.
Clark said government would not benefit anything by taking sides with some persons in a community dispute, pointing out that the committee pushed for reconciliation of the warring factions and because both sides accused each other of criminal acts, it was decided they should let bygone by bygone as brothers, and live together in unity.
The council chair said the committee’s position is that government will pay compensation for losses incurred by victims of the crisis, but the community should move forward with the reconstitution of the leadership of the community, which was the bane of the crisis, while government would handle compensation later.