Rita Lori-Ogbebor

Sunday Okobi

For fighting for the development of Itsekiri people in Delta State over the alleged mismanagement of Itsekiri Regional Development Council (IRDC) fund, rights activist and businesswoman, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, wednesday raised the alarm that her life was in serious danger.

Lori-Ogbebor, who also called on well-meaning Nigerians to be at alert over her safety, said should anything happen to her, those who want the accounts unfrozen should be held responsible.

She also called on Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, to take note of the development, which she alleged was as a result of her crusade for accountability in the management of community development funds.

While briefing journalists yesterday at a press conference in Lagos, the Lagos-based hotelier said: “There is a plan to attack me because of my stand on IRDC funds. Those who have joined in the fight against the mismanagement of Itsekiri funds are also being targeted.

“I got privileged information that people are being mobilised for the mission. I want the world to know about this sinister plan. I have been serving Itsekiri people for 30 years and I have given my all to the Itsekiri nation. I have never asked for anything from the people. I just want the best for my people.”

Lori-Ogbebor further alleged that “those embezzling our funds want to carry on with their nefarious and ungodly activities which would not help my people. I have served my people well. It is sad to see the wealth of my people being plundered by a few individuals. It is sad that the place I grew up is now a forest because funds meant for development of the area are being embezzled.

“I learned that a few people have mobilised youths to attack me because of the court order on the accounts being used to siphon our money. There are people who believe that Itsekiri development funds belong to them and think they can do anything to ensure that they continue to get free money.

“I want to use this medium also to inform the Governor of Delta State, Okowa, that my back is now a bull’s eye for attack. I will also write a petition to the IG to inform him about the plot against me. Should anything happen to me or anyone associated with this fight for accountability, those people who want the accounts unfrozen should be held responsible. “I am very passionate about my Itsekiri nation and can’t support anything that will bring misery to our people. My people are treated as slaves and refugees. Seeing people suffer is something that breaks my heart.”

Lori-Ogbebor had instituted a suit before the state high court in Warri against some Itsekiri leaders and Chevron over alleged diversion of funds donated by Chevron and other donors for the development of Itsekiri communities.

Also, an Abuja High Court had directed the Nigeria Police Force to freeze seven accounts operated by IRDC which contained N2.1 billion. The accounts were frozen after which the state high court sitting in Warri granted a similar order.