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Published On: Fri, Oct 25th, 2019

Delta: How N20m Oil Largesse Tears Isoko Community, Uzere Apart

LAGOS OCTOBER 25TH (URHOBOTODAY-Oil-rich Uzere kingdom in Isoko South Council Area of Delta State is embroiled in conflicts over an alleged diversion of N20 million oil largesse and an attempt to bring back exiled King Isaac Udogri, writes ELO EDREMODA
Peace has taken leave of Uzere kingdom in Isoko South Council Area of Delta State. This has been for a couple of months. It all started with the alleged diversion of N20 million largesse from the operators of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 28, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). The signing of a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) for OML 28 and an attempt to bring back the exiled King Isaac Udogri have also fuelled the crisis.
The fund, according to sources, was meant to finance a skill acquisition programme. While some quarters opined that it was solely for youths of the area, others, including the leadership of Uzere, insisted the money was for the community. This disagreement fuelled crisis in the kingdom.
On one part is the Isoko Development Union (IDU) President-General, Chief Iduh Amadhe, with a faction of the community’s youths and on the other divide is the President-General of Uzere kingdom, Chief Felix Enwenede, and some members of the community, including a former President-General, Chief Columbus Oguname.
Issues got out of hand and a Sienna vehicle, belonging to the youths, was burnt. It was at this point the Isoko South Council stepped in. Its chairman, Sir Malik Ikpokpo, called a meeting. The N20 million was disbursed; N2.2 million was to replace the burnt vehicle, N3 million for women of the community, N3 million for the men, N0.8 million for the executive members of Uzere Development Union, N10 million for the youths and N1 million for Chief Oguname, who it was said supposed to facilitate the skill acquisition programme.
The intervention of the council boss brought some reprieve to the community. The youths, led by their chairman, Comrade Frank Adaka embarked on the programme around mid-September. Hair clippers, among other things, were bought and given to the youths as empowerment tools.
However, some dissatisfied youths revolted against the development and chose to elect another youth leadership. They danced to King Henry Etuwede lll’s palace, and to the home of Enwenede to present their new leader. On hearing the news of his dethronement, Adaka was said to have alerted the Divisional Police Officer, Oleh, as well as the council.
An elaborate meeting of stakeholders, including security operatives, presided over by the council boss was held on October 9. He (the chairman) ended up suspending Enwenede for his alleged inability to demonstrate good leadership and as well maintain peace and security in the kingdom. The action against the president-general prompted some unidentified persons to destroy properties belonging to Adaka and his cronies. A reprisal action, which led to some persons sustaining severe injuries on the head, hand and back, followed.
A former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alexander Ogomudia (rtd), was accused of supplying arms to “the boys” as well as providing them shelter in his country home. He denied the allegations.
Speaking on telephone, the ex-Army Chief said: “Do you believe a man in my position will be supplying arms? If you don’t believe, you probably should have asked them, those who told you. From where? Have any arms been found? They arrested quite several boys. Have any arms been found with them and any of them confessed that the arms came from me? How do people just make allegations? It’s stupid, it doesn’t make sense. There must be evidence that, yes, I am the one supplying arms to them. And the best way to get that evidence is to catch somebody with arms and you take him to charge, where did you get that arm? And he says, it’s from General XYZ. Then, I can now have a reason to confront him and say, if you say I am the one, where did I buy it, where did I give it to you?”
Adaka blamed the problem on an alleged secret signing of a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) for OML 28, without the entire community in the know. Adaka told The Nation that Enwenede and some others had completed necessary GMoU arrangements with the NPDC.
Asked if the problem was related to the issue of returning the exiled monarch, Adaka said: “I don’t think so. Those people are just trying to formulate issues deviating from what happened in the community.
“The main issue is OML 28. Uzere does not share it with any community but instead of the community to come to a round table to sign a GMoU with the oil company, some persons alone signed a secret GMoU with the oil company. And those persons are the people confusing the community. And the PG is among them, that is why they set up a parallel youth exco in the palace, after which they danced to the PG’s place to approve them to function, which the PG did. And I have two years to run my office. I was sworn in January 25, 2019, and my tenure is to expire next year December.”
Enwenede denied that any GMoU for OML 28 had been signed. He said negotiations were still in the works.
“I am not aware of that. There is no GMoU. GMoU has been part of what we have been discussing. They said they will draft and we will read through. Nobody has signed any GMoU. The only available GMoU is the one of OML 30,” he said.
Enwenede, in a statement on Wednesday, said: “Since 2011 Uzere Kingdom has been engulfed in crisis stemming from peace protest organised by the Kingdom against SPDC (oil-producing company) operating in the community dating back to early 1960s. The protest led to the deaths of some community youths. It was believed that the exiled king HRM Isaac Udogri was on the side of SPDC. The irate youths and some Uzere leaders, including Chief Iduh Amadhe were arrested and charged to court for offences of murder and arson, while the King Palace was completely razed down. Arising from this ugly incident the Kingdom was without a king. The Delta State Government set up Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the killings and the arson that took place in Uzere. Sadly the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry is yet to be released.
“Chief Iduh Amadhe and other leaders went in search of a king and successfully installed Henry Etuwede the 111 as the Ovie of Uzere. This scenario created two kings in Uzere Kingdom, one in exile and the other residing in the Kingdom. For the past seven years Henry Etuwede the 111 has been piloting the affairs of the Kingdom in conjunction with all the traditional institutions of the Kingdom. The case as to who is the authentic King in Uzere is still pending in court. It is of common knowledge in Uzere that Mr. Columbus Oguname was sponsored by Chief Iduh Amadhe to become the President General of Uzere Kingdom in 2014 and he won the election and became the President General of Uzere Kingdom. All was going on smoothly among Chief Iduh Amadhe, Henry Etuwede 111 and Mr. Columbus Oguname. However, this cosy relationship broke down between Chief Iduh Amadhe and Mr. Columbus Oguname due to financial misunderstanding and overbearing control by Chief Iduh Amadhe. This made Chief Iduh Amadhe oppose the second tenure re-election bid of Mr. Columbus Oguname and Barrister John Urete who was the preferred candidate of Chief Iduh Amadhe won the election. The relationship between Chief Iduh Amadhe and HRM Henry Etuwede the 111 got soured because of the dictatorial tendencies of Chief Iduh Amadhe. Again, it was widely believed that he was dictating the running of John Urete’s administration to the annoyance of the majority of the Uzere people.
“It must be pointed out that Chief Iduh Amadhe masterminded the removal of HRM Isaac Udogri l, and surprisingly he is plotting the removal of HRM Henry Etuwede 111, and he wants me to join the plan of bringing HRM Isaac Udogri back to Uzere against my sense of judgement that the General Conference should deliberate on this issue because of its sensitive nature. It is against this backdrop that Chief Iduh Amadhe is wickedly mobilising against my removal as the President General of Uzere Kingdom. Also to be noted is the antics of Chief Iduh Amadhe who is known to have problem with every President General of Uzere Kingdom who refuses to do his bidding in Uzere.”
Another player in the crisis, Chief Columbus Oguname, also attributed the influx of security operatives into the community to Amadhe.
“The man, Chief Iduh said something that he proved to be correct. What he said in a meeting of the ex-president generals is that the president does not have what it takes to fight him. And that he has the power to bring 200 policemen to Uzere because the police are his tools. And he proved it. He was able to bring 20 vans to Uzere. He said it and he did it. He said he issues instructions to the council chairman and he carries it out,” he said.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Isoko South council chairman, Sir Ikpokpo, proved futile. Calls were diverted or not responded to, while text messages failed to deliver.
A political leader from the area, who is Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission Managing Director, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, distanced himself from the debacle. Ogieh, alleged to have witnessed Enwenede’s compulsion to sign a document seeking to withdraw the suit between Uzere kingdom and the deposed monarch by the IDU’s PG, expressed sadness at the unfolding events. However, he called for all parties to sheathe their swords and embrace peace for development to thrive in the locality.
“The issues in Uzere, I don’t have a hand in whatever is happening there. I wasn’t even around when it happened. However, as one of the notable leaders in the place, I will take steps to ensure that all warring factions are reconciled, so that we can have some peace to create enabling environment for progress in the place,” Ogieh said on phone.
Peace moves are already underway, The Nation learnt. A meeting comprising all aggrieved parties was said to have been summoned by Deputy Governor Kingsley Otuaro to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
The Nation

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