Lagos-based businesswoman and rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has dragged the Itsekiri Regional Council and Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to a Warri High Court and Federal High Court respectively in Delta State over the disbursement and management of community development funds accruable to Itsekiri communities in the state.
At a press briefing which took place in Lagos yesterday, Ogbebor also lamented that funds meant for the development of Itsekiri communities were allegedly being mismanaged by an ‘illegal body,’ adding it was high time the trend stopped.
Briefing journalists on her reason for the litigation, she noted that those who had access to development funds were living large at the expense of the Itsekiri people.
She cited as compendium entitled: ‘The Odessey of Wastage: A Case of Itsekiri Development Master Plan,’ to further buttress her point on the alleged neglect of the oil producing ethnic nationality by concerned authorities.
Lori-Ogbebor said the first case would come up tomorrow in Warri while the second one would come up later.
According to her, “Evil men have taken over our country, while we have gone to court in prayers. Despite all that had happened in our courts, the criticisms and wrong doings, I still have faith in our courts. In 2005, Chevron multinational company thought it was suitable to put right some of the problems they have caused in the community. So, they gathered the ethnic groups in Itsekiri, Ijaw, and Isoko areas. They brought them together to form what they called the Global Memorandum of Association (GMA), which was supposed to take care of development in the area. All others registered, but the Itsekiri’s never did.”
She added that “they went on dealing with Chevron without registration, and they carried on illegally. How can Chevron do business with an illegal body? These people they are relating with, who do they represent? Who are they? The Olu of Warri is the head of the Itsekiri people, but he is not even involved. But Chevron kept on with their deal as if they are right. In the eyes of the law, since 2005 till date, we have seen nothing, due to these illegal bodies.
“This act of illegality was not known in the Itsekiri kingdom, this is a new set of people that have come in the last 16 years to ruin our kingdom. So, today, I have gone to court to bring sanity to my area. If other leaders will pretend as if nothing has happened, I am not going to pretend. Because when things happen like this, they usually develop into huge problems at the end. I have gone to court to ask Chevron and members of the Itsekiri Regional Council to tell the Itsekiri how they have spent our money.”
The hotelier stated that there is a group that has taken inventory of all the jobs done in Itsekiri kingdom by the Itsekiri Regional Council, Chevron, and DESOPADEC. “I have here a book called the Odessy of Waste. It shows how leaders wasted our money. Today, there are no schools in the rural areas, no hospitals, and there are no jobs in Warri.
“So, we are taking the board members of the Itsekiri regional council and chevron to court tomorrow. Then we will take the Delta State Government to the federal high court soon.”