By Sylvester IdowuÂ inÂ Warri
The crisis rocking the oil-rich Ugborodo community in Warri South West Local government area of Delta State took a new dimension yesterday with Ugborodo Community Management Committee (UCMC) warning the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro not thwart the renewed peace in the Itsekiri area with the flushing out of suspected miscreants by the military last weekend.
A member of UCMC, Mr. Alex Eyengho alleged in a statement made available to THISDAY that the Deputy Governor, an Ijaw man, was doing everything possible to withdraw policemen presently stationed in the troubled Itsekiri community.
“From reliable information at our disposal, the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro is the number one enemy of Itsekiri and Olu of Warri. He is presently doing everything at the moment behind Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to withdraw the policemen presently stationed in Ugborodo to maintain law and order after the flushing out of criminal elements from the community”, he alleged.
Eyengho therefore called on Governor Okowa to call his Deputy to order immediately adding “The Army, Navy, DSS and other security agents should be on red alert and secure lives and properties in the area otherwise, we shall do everything to protect ourselves and defend the integrity and dignity of Ugborodo,” they warned.
But the Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro reacted distancing himself from the crisis in Itsekiri community.
He described the insinuations amongst the Itsekiris about his alleged tacit support to annex the community to Ijaws as unfortunate, baseless and wondered how the peddlers intended their followers to believe such lies.
This latest development came up just as Delta State Commissioner of Police. Mr. Muhammadu Mustafa gave reason for the joint Military/Police operation at the community where suspected militants and oil thieves allegedly held hostage.
He said intelligence report revealed that youths in the area were being instigated by some self-acclaimed youth leaders to stage a protest against the presence of security men and gun boats deployed to the area.
The Police Boss confirmed that the deployment of security operatives last Saturday was to rid the areas of hoodlums who use the bases for various nefarious activities.
Mr. Mustafa’s clarification came up just as the leadership of the community that hosts the $16b EPZ and $20b Gas Revolution Industrial Park and other oil and gas related investments, said both the Federal and Delta State governments gave approval for the military operation in response to their petition and protect government facilities in the area.
Spokesman of Ugborodo Community Management Committee (UCMC), Mr. Alex Eyengho said the security operation was carried out with the full weight of the Federal and Delta State governments in response to a “save our souls (SOS) petition” written by the administrative organ in the community against criminal activities in the area and the environs and sent to the headquarters of various security agencies and Delta State Governor.
According to a statement issued by Eyengho, “for over one year now, the Ugborodo community has been under siege of criminal elements in the area who engaged in illegal oil bunkering, sea piracy and other nefarious activities.
Delta State Commissioner of Police in his statement titled “Massive Security Presence In Aruton andÂ Ode-Ugborodo Communities -No Cause For Alarm” urged the law abiding residents not to be worried by presence of security agents in the area.
“The Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, CP. Muhammad A. Mustafa, has enjoined the citizens and residents of Aruton, Ode-Ugborodo and other neighbouring communities in Warri South LGA of Delta State not to be alarmed over the deployment of many security operatives in the areas.
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“The CP noted that the deployment of security operatives in the areas is a joint operation by the Police, the Military, and Department of State Security Services (DSS), to rid the areas of hoodlums who use them as bases for various nefarious activities which include militancy, illegal oil bunkering and oil pipeline vandalism”, he said.
While urging the youths, citizens and residents of the communities to be law abiding and not to panic over the security operation, the Commissioner of Police called on them to cooperate and avail the security operatives with useful information, as efforts are being intensified to enthrone the reign of peace and safety in the communities and the entire state.
The Police Boss however, gave a stern warning to all hoodlums, notably bunkerers, kidnappers, rapists, burglars, and murderers and their ilks to steer clear of the Communities and the state as a whole or else be prepared to face the full wrath of the law.
There has been leadership crisis in the community over time with a faction claiming that Ugborodo was an autonomous kingdom outside the rulership of Olu of Warri kingdom and was alligning with paramount ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom that belongs to Ijaws in the area, a development which angered the original indigenes of the area.
As the crisis festered and becoming a threat to the multi-million dollars oil and gas investments including running Chevron’s Escravos Gas to Liquid (EGTL) project, the Federal and Delta State Governments last weekend sent military to flush out the suspected miscreants causing trouble in the community in response to UCMC