Oborevwori: Nigerians Must Unite against Threats to Country’s Security

House Committee assures  stakeholders of justice in Okuama crisis

Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Sylvester Idowu in Wari

Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has charged Deltans and Nigerians, particularly political and traditional rulers, to intensify efforts towards ensuring that peace reigns supreme at all times in their communities in order to foster an atmosphere of progress and sustainable development in the country.

The governor noted that Nigeria as a whole has been going through a lot of challenges, including insecurity in some parts of the country that were threatening the nation’s peace, and urged all stakeholders from federal to state and local government levels to work harmoniously to overcome the challenge of insecurity, which has been exacerbated by prevailing economic problems.

Oborevwori spoke at separate occasions in Asaba when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Defence called on him, and while receiving a delegation of the state council of traditional rulers who were at the Government House to express their appreciation for the role he has played in resolving the crisis generated by the killing of 17 military personnel in Okuama, a riverside community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State about five weeks ago.

Governor Oborevwori on Wednesday inaugurated an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) management committee charged with the responsibility of resettling and rehabilitating the displaced residents.

The ad hoc IDP management committee is chaired by Mr. Abraham Ogbodo, formerly editor with The Guardian Newspapers, who is also a community leader in Delta while Mr. Austin Emaduku, the Director of Personnel Management (DPM) Ughelli South Local Government Area, will serve as Secretary.

Other members of the committee include former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo; Hon. Festus Utuama, Hon. Reuben Izeze, who is Commissioner for Works (Highways and Urban Roads); Dr. Richard Kofi, Mr. Oviri Uto, Ms. Josephine Oduaran, Obukohwo Henry Ediyo, Karo Ovemeso, and Austin Ohwofaria, who shall serve as the Camp Commandant.

Receiving the House of Representatives Committee on Defence led by Hon. Babajimi Benson, at Government House Asaba, the governor said that the committee would deal with humanitarian concerns emanating from the Okuama crisis, adding that President Bola Tinubu and the high command of the Nigerian Army have assured that no innocent citizen of the community would suffer as a result of the crisis.

Oborevwori said: “Without doubt, this is one of the most important committees in the House because it has to do with the defence of our territorial integrity.

“In recent years, Nigeria has faced multiple threats to its sovereignty and security from bandits, insurgents and the like. But God, in His infinite mercy, has helped our leaders to navigate the situation.

“However, the problem persists. Therefore, Nigerians expect a lot from this committee. I have full confidence that this committee will do justice on the matter because we believe in justice.

“What people don’t know is that before this incident happened, there was a peace accord signed by the Okoloba community and Okuama community.

“Last Saturday, I went to Okuama community to see the place to know the extent of damage. Today, we have set up a committee, Ewu IDP Committee, by which we can rehabilitate the people. By next week, by God’s grace, they will commence work; so, we will do our best to ensure peace across the state.”

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, said that they were in the state following the House’s resolution to unearth the remote cause of the crisis that led to the death of 17 military personnel in Okuama community.

Benson said that the act was condemnable in its entirety, but called on the military to commence the process for the return of innocent citizens to Okuama community.

He appealed to President Bola Tinubu to help in rebuilding Okuama town and commended the governor for collaborating with Mr. President as well as the military authorities and other stakeholders towards the peaceful resolution of the Okuama crisis and the safe return of the Ewu-Urhobo monarch.

Addressing the royal fathers, the governor stated that traditional rulers should not be absentee-leaders but should be well acquainted with the community and people under their traditional justification, for them to offer effective and progressive leadership worthy of commendation.

In what seemed like a subtle reprimand, Governor Oborevwori expressed dismay that the Ewu-Urhobo traditional ruler who was recently released, after he was arrested by military authorities in Abuja, allegedly in connection with the tragic Okuama incident, apparently did not know all the communities within his domain.

Addressing the tradional rulers, including HRH Clement Oghenerukevwe Ikolo, Urukpe I, the Ovie of Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom, Ughelli South, Governor Oborevwori said, “I have gone to visit the place; I was told that you (the king) don’t even know Okuama. You should know all the villages in your kingdom and unite with them.”

Nevertheless, the Ewu-Urhobo monarch, who was accompanied by members of Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers led by the Chairman and Orodje of Okpe, HRM, Felix Mujekpero (majo-general retired), said that he was in the Government House, Asaba, to express his appreciation to the governor for the role he played towards his release from military custody.

He also applauded President Tinubu, the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and the three senators from Delta State as well as others for their collective and individual efforts that facilitated his release by the military.

While condemning the tragic Okuama incident, about which he restated his innocence, he commended his people, the Urhobo nation, Deltans and Nigerians for their prayers and solidarity during his trying moments.

Nonetheless, the chairman of the state traditional, who presented the released monarch to the governor, said that traditional rulers in the state were deeply touched by the trauma that one of their own went through in the hands of the military for three weeks.

Over a dozen of the persons displaced by the military invasion of Okuama, in the aftermath of the aforementioned outrageous killing, have reportedly died from exposure to harsh conditions in the forest, including snakebite, starvation, trauma and diseases.

However, the governor has also appealed to the federal government and good-spirited Nigerians to join hands with the state government in resetting the displaced Okuama residents.

Meanwhile, the  House of Representatives has assured stakeholders  that justice would prevail at the end of its investigation into the crisis in Okuama Community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, gave the assurance yesterday at the end of its investigative public hearing at Government House Annexe, Warri.

He told journalists that thronged the venue of the hearing that the House of Representatives would ensure that the Okuama crisis was brought to a logical conclusion.

Benson, who led other members of the committee, explained that the investigative hearing on the carnage that occurred in Okuama Community in Delta resulting to the death of military officers in Warri was not to witch-hunt anybody.

The investigative hearing, according to him, was in line with the 10th Assembly House of Representatives’ resolution of March 19, 2024.

The lawmaker disclosed that the committee had received a lot of memorandum but expressed disappointment that the community members did not turn up physically.

“We came to see members of the community in camera and by way of memorandum. We have received a lot of memorandum from them but they have not turned up physically.

“We have gotten enough memoranda and we intend to work with the memoranda. Though, the window is opened for a week, so we are still expecting more from them.

“We have assured everyone including the Delta Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori that the House of Representatives will ensure the matter is looked into from both sides and come to a logical conclusion.

“That is why we are asking them to send memorandum and they are complying. We gave them a week and the period will elapse on Friday.

“If you do not want to show up, please send us your documents so that we will be able to act on them, and get to a logical conclusion,” he appealed.

Hon. Benson said that the committee was fully ready to ensure that justice was done on the matter.

Explaining why the committee could not visit the impacted Okuama Community, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Defence said that the activities of the committee regarding the crisis had not ended and assured that the committee will visit the locals and also invite the military to give account of what happened at the community.

“We are definitely going to meet the locals but we are going to arm ourselves with information on the matter,” he said.

The member, representing Ughelli North/Ughelli South and Udu Federal Constituency, Hon. Francis Waive, was among the team that visited Warri for the public hearing.

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