Some leaders of Ekpan community in the Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State have accused Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of using the police to clamp down on members of the opposition who are from the area.
According to the leaders in a letter to the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), in the last seven and a half years that Okowa, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been the state governor, opposition members in the community have been subjected to a sustained campaign of criminal assault, destruction of property, multiple murders, kidnapping and intimidation.
Okowa is the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2023 election.
The community leaders alleged that several persons have been murdered, kidnapped, or rendered homeless by forcing them to escape or relocate from their homes and go into exile.
The letter read, “This horrendously naked display of raw political power by the PDP-led administration, both at the state level in general and the Uvwie Local Government Area in particular has resulted in several persons being murdered, kidnapped, rendered homeless and/or forced to escape/relocate out of their native indigenous homes and go into exile out of the Ekpan Community, Uvwie Local Government Area. The perpetrators of these activities which we shall narrate in fuller detail are well-known to us.
“They include I. Late Lawrence Ngozi Ijie, II. Uvwie Ejeneye, III. Daniel Ighedo, IV. Joseph Uvwaye Alias Uruere, V. Ramson Onoyake, VI. Efe Best, VII. Victory Nanakparo, VIII. Patricia Usolo, IX. Gabriel Ariuruje, X. Caris Ariuruje, XI. Onajite Awinoron, XII. Newyear Iffie, XIII. Newton Onaodowan, XIV. Matthew Emewakeme, XV. Isaac Etigbenaye (Oshegudu), XVI. Shedrach Ighedo and XVII. Joseph Ukwesa.
“Most of these persons are political appointees or elected officials of the PDP-led Government in Uvwie Local Government and Delta State. We have caused several complaints to be made about their activities to all the formations of the Nigerian Police from the Divisional Police Station up to the Office of the Commissioner of Police, Delta State Police Command all to no avail.
“They have turned deaf ears to our cries and have refused to arrest or even investigate the numerous complaints we have made to them over the years about the specific acts of liminality perpetrated by these persons with the ostensible authority of the Delta State Government.
“The siege still continues to date. It is sustained, unrelenting, strategically executed and clearly directed at eliminating all perceived or real opposition to the ruling party in Delta State as soon as possible.
“Ekpan community is a very big community with a population of about 500,000 persons. It plays host to the Warri Refinery and many other oil companies and oil service companies. The community is very strategic in the political and social calculations of Delta State as a whole. The undersigned, who are all community leaders, as well as many other indigenes of Ekpan, who look up to them for leadership number (are) in their thousands.
“One of us, Chief Victor Otomiewo was the Unuevworo (Traditional Duke in charge) of Ekpan community. Later, because of its large size, Ekpan community was split into four areas and Chief Victor Otomiewo still heads one of these sections of the community. Together with some of the other undersigned as well as other traditional leaders in the community, we ensure that the framework that keeps the community peaceful is kept intact. If Ekpan community is completely destabilized as desired by these hoodlums, the unfortunate level of criminality that would overwhelm the community and spill into the neighbouring communities, including Warri and Effurun is better imagined than experienced.”
Explaining further, the community leader said, “As it stands today, Ekpan community has been turned into gangsters’ haven where anything goes in the name of Chairman of the Uvwie Local Government. Any person who is perceived to be an opposition member is a target. As a result, many persons have quietly fled the community in fear for their lives.
“The Traditional institution of Ekpan has been rendered comatose as all Chiefs are under serious threat of elimination and intimidation by the local government authority chaired by Ramson Onoyake and the Chief Perpetuators being; Daniel Ighedo, Joseph Uvwaye, Victory Nanakparo, Shedrack Ighedo, Uvwie EJeneye, Joseph Ukwesa, Gabriel Ariuruje, Matthew Emewakeme, Newton Onoadowan, Isaac Etigbenaye, Caris Ariuruje, Efe Best who is a cousin of Chief V.E. Otomiewo.
“The female fronts of the cabal are Sarah Ariuruje, Patricia Usolo and Onajite Awinoron. They are being aided, covered and protected by the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ali Muhammed Aliyu and the Ekpan Police Station DPO. In addition, the Vice Chairman of Uvwie Local Government, Mr. Daniel Ighedo illegally brought and keeps a group of soldiers in Uduomovwori Quarters, Ekpan Community. The soldiers are maintained partly by forced levies which are forcibly collected from the poor traders, artisans and citizens of Ekpan community by the Vice Chairman and his boys.
“The Vice Chairman, with the help of the said soldiers also runs a protection ring for criminals in Ekpan Community. All the drug peddlers, kidnappers and illegal oil bunkerers in Ekpan community pay protection money to the Vice Chairman and the said soldiers who enforce his directives. The tent used by the soldiers in the community is now an alternative government in Ekpan community. Every week, People are kidnapped and taken to the soldiers’ tent and they are never released until ransoms are paid through the soldiers. One of the undersigned was kidnapped and taken to the soldiers on Sunday, 10th of October, 2022.
“Since the advent of the Okowa Administration, the home and Office premises of Chief Victor Otomiewo have been attacked 15 times, without a response from the State Police Command and/or the Local Government authorities or the state, in spite of numerous petitions, some of which are enclosed herein as Annexure A. The police commissioner in Asaba and every DPO that has been posted to Uvwie Local Government have turned deaf ears to his cry for justice and/or arrest of the criminals responsible, most of whom are government appointees. They were all listed above.
“Under the current administration of Ramson Onoyake as the Chairman of Uvwie Local Government, the premises of one of the undersigned, Chief Victor Otomiewo has been attacked eight (8) times in this year alone. On September 17th, 2021 Honorable Ramson Onoyake went on Radio and Television to announce that Chief Otomiewo has been banned from entering the Okugbe Primary School, Ekpan for the purpose of football training and other exercises.
“He followed up this ban when on Sunday, the 19th of September 2021 with five (5) tricycles, known as Keke, he forcefully and illegally abducted Chief Otomiewo from the school field, forced him into his car with seven well-armed thugs and took him to the Ekpan Police Station. Fortunately, the then DPO received calls from all over Nigeria, advising him on the caliber of the person that had been abducted to his office, he saw reasons, released him on bail, and advised Ramson Onoyake to go and apologize, but up until today, the apology has not been rendered.
“On July 11th 2022, he invaded the Okugbe Primary School premises, with thugs and bricklayers and illegally sealed up the pedestrian gate with concrete preventing access to Chief Otomiewo and/or any person that seeks to play football on that pitch. It should be noted that the said pedestrian entrance was approved by Professor Muoboghare, the Commissioner, Primary and Basic Secondary Education at the relevant time. To further enforce his dictatorial tendency, he caused the fence of the Football field to be laced with Barb wires making Okugbe Primary School Football field, the only training ground in the whole world encircled with sharp barbed wire, making, therefore, football and other sport programs impossible.
“As a result of this constant and incessant torment, harassment and intimidation of Chief Otomiewo and his family without any protection from any Police formation in Delta State, he was forced to seek remediation elsewhere and resorted to the Inspector General’s office. A copy of the complaint to the IGP is attached as Annexure B. We know for a fact that the reason for the incessant torment, harassment and threat to life of the undersigned was because they choose the path of truth.
“They have challenged the illegal actions of the government officials and appointees by not only suing the Local Government Chairman for dissolving the duly elected EDC and set up an illegal caretaker committee. One of us, Chief Otomiewo also stood as counsel to defend Mr. Steven Akemu who was framed on trumped-up charges of Kidnapping and armed robbery. This charge was contrary to the result of the investigation and advice of the Commissioner of Police, Delta State and the DPO, Ekpan. The Commissioner of Police, Delta State admitted to the hearing of some members of the Uvwie Community, that he was pressurized by the Delta State Security Council to rope in Steven Akemu in one of the meetings, the Uvwie Community had with him in Asaba.
Efforts to reach DSP Bright Edate, the police spokesman in the state on the phone were not successful.