By Jimmy Lace

There was palpable tension recently at Ogharafe the administrative headquarters of Ethiope West council, when placard carrying protesting youths, women and elders from Ovade-Oghara community invaded their council headquarters calling on their son and brother Hon Ben Igbakpa to leave them alone.

The people who came into the council’s premises in their large number with their placards bearing the inscription, Ben is the problem of Ovade, Ben leave Ovade alone so that we can develope, Ben  stop instigating crisis  in Ovade, Ben remove your hand from Ovade, Ben when will you stop the killing and intimidation  in Ovade, Ben Igbakpa  A.K.A pharaoh of Ovade, we don’t want committee  in ovade, committee must go, Ben Igbakpa and committe instigate crisis for their selfish interest, we want Ejiro Efetobor for continuity, Ben and Hitler Igbakpa are the problem of Ovade etc, told the council  Secretary Hon Moses Okwe and security agencies  in the area that government should intervene  in their community to ensure the persons mentioned left  their community alone for peace to reign.

The spoke person of the group  Mr Felix told the representative of the council chairman Mr Okwe and other security agencies presents that the entire people of Ovade  Oghara community were tired and fed up of the leadership of the committee members which  they alleged was constituted  by Hon Ben Igbakpa for their selfish interest.

Mr. Felix  Ighoyivwi  alleged that the problem of the community was brought about  by their brother Hon Igbakpa  in 2007 when one  Mr Ejiro Efetobor was elected into office as the community chairman but was scuttled  by the same Hon Igbakpa whom they claimed asked Ejiro to step down to enable him(Ben ) be in charge which eventually resulted to the large  scale crisis  that led to killings, destruction of properties and the eventual  incarceration of Ejiro on a trumped up allegations of a murder charge  but was later discharged and acquitted  by a competent court of law.

The protesters claimed that a memorandum (MOU)of understanding between the community and pan ocean company operating  in the area  has just been signed, for Hon  Ben  and his cohorts excluding other members of the community who are already homeless as a result of cultists and kidnappers they alleged were in imported to the village to chase them away.

They added that while their leader (Mr Ejiro Efetobor) was in detention, Ben Igbakpa constituted a committee headed by his uncle Mr Hitler Igbakpa to run the affairs of the community, so that all benefits drivable from Pan Ocean company could come to him and excluding other members of the community.

Mr Felix spoke further, “as we speak, there are certain benefits the community gets from Pan Ocean but they have all been monetized and paid to Hon Ben Igbakpah, and right now, another  M.O.U has been signed by Ben Igbakpah and his brother with his cohorts  with Pan Ocean and whenever  there is crisis, Hitler benefits from all the crises. He is recognized as the sole head of Ovade community and at the end of the day he and Ben Igbakpah share the proceeds. Is Ovade sold to Hon Ben Igbakpah and other members of the committee?”.

In their separate responses, Mr Akeni Sunday, Elder Emmanuel Emagbuku, Lucky Akeni, Abboy Onomroba, Nathaniel Edozie, Mrs Beatrice Umukoro and Mrs Omatie Ejomafuwe appealed to the government of Delta state to urgently  intervene and  come to their rescue by chasing all the cultists and kidnappers from the community and as well reinstate their  brother Mr Ejiro as their leader since they were tired  of the committee  put in place  by Hon Ben Igbakpah.

They agreed that the leadership of their brother Ejiro had been beneficial to them since he gave jobs and as well createde a very peaceful and conducive atmosphere for them in the community.

According to Mr Nathaniel  Edozie ” Ejiro is a born leader, a good man, Ejiro is our choice. Since 2007 there has been lot of problems in the community. Ben is using his advantaged position to bring people into the community to cause crisis instead of creating peace in the community. As I speak now, there is lot of cultists in the community, vandalizing properties, killing goats, dogs, rapping women and we are scared of going back home, we are appealing to the government to come to our rescue. We no longer have homes because we have been chased from our own community. Ejiro should come back to his position”. He pleaded.

On his part, Mr Hitler Igbakpah the current chairman of the committee who spoke on behalf of himself and Ben Igbakpah explained that the allegations were baseless , unfounded and false saying, “the former leader  Mr Ejiro Efetobor has been in power for 15 years and does not want  to leave this is the issue  because  he has over stayed his tenure in office”.

Mr Hitler while speaking on the allegation of the signed M.O.U, said, “How can an M.O.U represent the interest of few persons or an individual alone.  The MOU was signed in collaboration with the ministry of justice which represented Delta state government, while we community leaders signed on behalf of the entire community”.

The committee chairman also added in a telephone conversation “there is no cultists and kidnappers in Ovade because the place is peaceful as we speak”

The secretary of the Ethiope West council Mr Moses Okwe who addressed the protesters in the presence of the DPO and SSS officials assured them that their grievances   would be channeled to the government for urgent intervention, appealing that dialogue remained the best option to issues and not violence nor lawlessness