…As Peace Returns
…‘Youths and oil bunkerers became law unto themselves, chased out our elders’
BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
Peace has returned to oil-rich Ugborodo, an Itsekiri community in Warri South West local government area of Delta State. But peace did not come through negotiation; it took the intervention of security operatives to flush out some persons described as hoodlums and brigands who unleashed a reign of terror on the community.
It was a crisis among brothers. Those who allegedly held the community hostage were said to have chased out elders and several others from the area. The attackers were allegedly involved in illegal bunkering and related crimes.
A member of the community, Mr Alex Eyengho, painted the horrors the people of the area went through while the hoodlums held sway. “Ugborodo community went through hell while the crisis lasted.
The area became one of the most lawless communities in Nigeria. The crisis took us back to the days of Hobbesian state of mankind where life was short, brutish and nasty. Armed youths and oil bunkerers became law unto themselves, particularly in Ode-Ugborodo. They chased out of the community elders and youths opposed to their criminal activities. Ugborodo became a laughing stock among the Itsekiri, Delta State and Nigeria”, Eyongbo said.
Breakdown of law and order
The crisis stunted development in the community because there can be no development in an atmosphere of hostility, total breakdown of law and order. Ugborodo was in a state of anarchy, no thanks to the alleged criminal activities of five persons now facing trial and others declared wanted by the police for murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms, etc.
Calm returned after the flushing out of the suspected criminal elements from Ugborodo by a combined security team of the army, the navy, the SSS and the police. The Ugborodo Community Management Committee (UCMC), under the leadership of Austin Oboroegbeyi, is currently clearing the mess and restoring law and order in the community.
“There is no alternative to peace but never again shall we get into this sort of lawless and most embarrassing situation in Ugborodo. We have successfully left Egypt for the promised land and nobody can take us back to Egypt”, he said.
The combined military operation, about three weeks ago, had rescued the community from the grip of the alleged criminals. Security operatives moved in and smoked out the hoodlums.
Celebrating the return of peace, community folks gathered at the town hall in Escravos , dancing. Women were not left out. Everybody united in praying that the ugly development of the past should not return.
The Chairman of Ugborodo Community Management Committee, Oboroegbeyi, who read an address at the occasion, said sons and daughters of Ugborodo should harness their strength to advance the common good of the area.
“From today, Ugborodo people must put behind all that happened in the last few months and work together for the good of the community and our future generations. We must put the development of Ugborodo community first and far above any personal or group interest. Since there cannot be development without peace and unity, we must work together to build our community for greater opportunities”, he said.
“It is no longer a secret that Ugborodo community was in a crisis with itself “.
According to him, those behind the crisis in the community were free to come back to contribute their quota to the development of the area, stressing that they should however conduct themselves within the ambit of the law.
Chief Thomas Ereyitomi, who also spoke, said those declared wanted by the police for alleged criminal activities in the area should clear with security operatives
Ereyitomi expressed the community’s gratitude to the federal and Delta State governments as well as security operatives for rescuing Ugborodo from the grip of hoodlums.
“Our appreciation goes first to the almighty God. We are also grateful to the elders and youths who remained in the community, stood their grounds and made sacrifices, and whose tireless mediation efforts ensured that today became a reality. Ugborodo belongs to all Ugborodo people and no single person or family can claim exclusive ownership”.
“Most of the people here today were not allowed to access this community until a few days ago. Of particular reference is the event of Tuesday, 22 August ,2017 when speed boats carrying some Ugborodo people for a meeting were attacked from speed boats occupied by armed young men leading to the kidnapping, armed robbery, assault and gruesome murder of Samuel Mayomi for which suspects have been declared wanted by the police”.
‘Crisis affected women’
Deaconess Comfort Mene, who is Assistant General Women Leader of the community, said that, as mothers, they were greatly disturbed while the crisis lasted because some of those behind it were children from the area.
According to her, those who literally seized the community ensured that women had no say.
“The crisis affected us women. At times, the hoodlums would come and impose themselves on the people. We are happy that peace has returned to Ugborodo. We are mothers; seeing our children going astray, we were not happy, we couldn’t sleep. We want the children and everyone to come together. All we want as mothers is peace. Let the community unite, everyone should come together to build the community “, she said.
Security operatives were seen in the community maintaining the peace.