Sapele—Embattle Chairman of Sapele Okpe Community, Mr Michael Egbejule, has said that until the court decides otherwise, he remains the legitimate chairman of Sapele-Okpe Community, Sapele Local Government Area, Delta State and not Mr. Moses Ogodo nor Chief Americana Ayomanor, who are currently laying claim to the position.
He spoke against the backdrop of a media report credited to Chief Ede Dafinone, an indigene of the area and former Delta Central senatorial candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, who had said that “Peace has returned at last to Sapele-Okpe Community, Sapele council, after the leadership squabble that rocked the community for several years.”
Egbejule said: “The leadership crisis in the community has not been resolved by anybody and we pray that it should not further degenerate,” warning his opponents to be wary of their comments.
Also, spokesman of Sapele-Okpe Community, Dr. Vincent Ekariko, has said, “The report is a blatant lie. It is only a figment of the imagination of the people who feel that they own Sapele. The truth is that Egbejule is the authentic Sapele-Okpe Community chairman. When the powers that be illegally and forcefully removed him in 2011 and put Moses Ogodo in his stead, he and his executive, including myself went to court and the matter is still pending and unresolved before a Delta State High Court sitting in Sapele in suit number S/90/2011, before Justice G. E. Gbemre, who subsequently restrained the Sapele-Okpe Land Trust Committee from conducting any election until the matter is resolved.
“That injunction has not been vacated. His lordship is now sitting at the state High Court in Effurun. The matter is now before Justice Arthur Omamogho. I have been cross examined twice and the court has not even finished with me yet.
“There is no end to the leadership crisis yet. We pray that it does not split Sapele-Okpe community. No one is bigger than the community. It is the community that puts people in position of authority and not the other way round.
“That is the reason we, the community, including the youths and the women group (ewemese) led by Madam Alice Ojagbighuru, are in court against the Sapele-Okpe Land Trust. Except the court says we the people do not own the community, Mr. Egbejule remains the chairman. The Trust is not a personal property that can be transferred from a progenitor who is still alive to a progeny without the consent of the community. We the community will not accept that.”
Also another community leader, Mr Bright Ogodo of the Ogodo dynasty in Sapele, said, “Our opponents are looking for trouble. First of all, mixing up “association” with the Trust is wrong.”
“The community does not operate association. What we have is a community land trust. The trust did not form the community but the community formed the trust. The crisis is still lingering. It has not even abated, let alone, resolved and until the court decides otherwise, Egbejule remains the Chairman of the community.”
Also, another respected member of the community, Mr. Solo Abeke, said, “To say that the leadership crisis in Sapele-Okpe community is over is a slap on the face of the people of the community who have been deprived of their authentic leadership for over six years now. Until this injustice is corrected through a court judgement or through an amicable settlement, there will be no end to the crisis.”