By Ochuko Akuopha
There is palpable tension at Uzere Kingdom, Isoko South Local Government Area, Delta State, over an alleged plot by a section of the community to bring back the traditional ruler (Ovie), HRM Isaac Udogri, who was deposed and his palace razed, eight years ago.
The community installed a parallel monarch, HRM Henry Etwede II after the deposition of HRM Udogri, but in the last few months, tension has mounted in the community with several property destroyed and a building set ablaze.
Authorities of Isoko South Local Government Area had to suspend, indefinitely, all youth activities in the community to checkmate trouble makers.
The development, which has pitted the President-General of the community, Mr. Felix Enwenede against the President-General of Isoko Development Union, IDU, the apex socio-cultural organisation of the Isoko ethnic nationality, Chief Iduh Amadhe, deteriorated during the yuletide, as the leadership of the community withdrew membership of the clan from IDU.
Enwenede in a notice of withdrawal addressed to IDU President-General, said: “Sequel to an emergency meeting held on December 24, 2019, we, the President-General, the Council of Chiefs, the quarters Iletu and the entire members of Uzere clan except the ones loyal to High Chief Iduh Amadhe, hereby, withdraw our membership from Isoko Development Union.”
He, the Secretary-General, Apostle Patrick Omoweh, Oletu-Odhe, Uzere Clan, Chief Fredrick Uyeh and three others, alleged that Amadhe “is involved in gross misconduct and is one of the persons responsible for the continuous crisis in Uzere clan.”
How fresh trouble started —Enwenede
Speaking on the development, President-General of the community, Enwenede, said: “In August 2019, we had a petition from the youth leader then and other groups over some money that came from NPDC and meant for a skills acquisition programme. While we were about to start the skills acquisition programme, the youths said the money must be given to them, which is not supposed to be. This is the beginning of the crisis.
“The matter that brought crisis in 2011 is in court. It is a kingship matter, but every now and then, High Chief Amadhe will always come up with one idea or the other, trying to bring the other Ovie in exile by force.
“We have to pull out of IDU because we cannot have someone like Amadhe, who is from Uzere and he is the one sponsoring the crisis.”
NDV learned that the state government waded into the matter and set up a peace committee, but Enwenede claimed that Amadhe did not allow the committee to work.
We’ve a snake with two heads—Amadhe
Reacting to the allegations, Amadhe described Enwenede as a dictator promoting crisis in his own community, adding “the crisis of Uzere has been on for a very long time. There are two kings in the community and if the President-General of the community is organising himself and align with a particular one, there must be issues in such a community.
“There have been other presidents-general in Uzere and they did not have this kind of problem that Enwenede is introducing. The community is divided and as a man, who has settled cases in 15 different Isoko communities, I cannot be a new man in my own community. I should be able to advise my people on the right thing to do. The king that is recognised by government has a staff of office and the other one in the community has no staff of office.
“If I advise and my advice is not taken, you can be on your own since a prophet is never recognised in his town. There was problem in Uzere in 2011 that led to the installation of a parallel king, but Uzere people are all aware that if a king does not die, you cannot have another one.
“Because of what happened at that time, some people said since the king cannot listen to them, let us have a parallel king. They put a parallel king believing that the one recognised by government would work out modalities to resolve the matter. That is why the matter has lingered on.
“They did it out of annoyance and if you know that something was done wrong, can we not say since the other one cannot be recognised by the government, let us settle the whole thing ourselves because you cannot have a snake with two heads?
“The situation in Uzere is that we have a snake with two heads, but the difference in the heads is that one head is recognised by the government because a staff of office was presented to that one.”
On the withdrawal of the clan from IDU, he said the community has not withdrawn as it was well represented at the just-concluded annual conference of the union.
A lot of unruliness in Uzere —Ikpokpo, LG chair
On his part, Chairman of the Isoko South Local Government Area, Sir Itiako Ikpokpo, said: “The fact of the matter is that there is a traditional ruler brought in by the people, recognised by government. There is a gazette, there is no lawless community.
“Unfortunately, they also have a President-General (Enwenede). Of course, you will recall that in one of our security meetings, he was suspended because of his attitude. There is no community that is isolated from the laws and constitution of Nigeria. The leadership of the community, when we met, appealed that when the suspension is over, we should call him back so that he can begin to ensure that there is peace in the community.
“There is so much grievances in the community; there is a lot of lawlessness, people are taking laws into their hands and we have called in the security agencies to help ensure that people are free, irrespective of their differences, to move about freely in their community.
“Why will people take laws into their hands? Why will people create fear in a community that belongs to all of them? I will not stand for that and will do my best and I have done so. If not for the support of His Excellency, we would not have got this far, because any time I call, he responds.
“Even the Commissioner of Police, Department of State Services, DSS, have been very fantastic in trying to nip things in the bud.”
On his decision to disband youth activities in the community, Ikpokpo responded: “The reason is simple. It is not the old men or women who are destroying people’s properties and we do not want a situation where different youth groups, whether in the name of good governance or freedom fighters, will take advantage of what they have in their possession to create havoc in the community.
“We need to let them know that we no longer recognise their unions or activities and that is why we disbanded them.”