13 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, WARRI- SAPELE-OKPE community in Delta State has split into factions following accusation and denial of misappropriation of N5.2 million by the leaders, with one faction led by elder statesman, Senator David Dafinone, and the other by the chairman of the community, Mr. Michael Egbejule.
While those loyal to Chief Dafinone, who is the chairman of the Sapele-Okpe Community Land Trust are demanding the removal of Egbejule from office, those opposed to him contended that the elder statesman should stop interfering with the community’s leadership.
A source, however, said Chief Dafinone only intervened to settle the rift between the chairman and Etamua youths, including other interest groups, who accused the former of embezzlement of community funds and abuse of office.
But, some opposing youths who maintained the Dafinone was interloping practically attacked him at the community’s secretariat, an action that worsened the rift.
Though, Chief Dafinone described the action of the youths who manhandled him as misguided, as his intervention was to make peace and ensure that dispute prevailed in the community, Mr. Egbejule dismissed his claim, saying the crisis was stage-managed to chip away at him.
Speaking on why he stepped into the matter, Dafinone said that youths of the community protested to him and urged him to intervene in the feud between them and the chairman as a prominent figure in the community, which he accepted.
He asserted that community chairman fell ill on the day he was invited to defend the allegation against him and failed to turn up at the time he was given subsequently to tell his side of the story, which prompted him to visit him at the community’s secretariat, where some misguided youths attempted to manhandle him.
A youth leader, Hon. Moses Ogodo who corroborated Dafinone’s story said the row emanated from a failed election in Oton and Etamua quarters of the community and imposition of surrogates, coupled with the misappropriation of N5.2 million, which the youths were demanding the chairman should defend.
Ogodo added that when the youths protested against his action, Mr. Egbejule had them arrested on fictitious charges of plotting to kill him. Mr. Egbejule, on the other hand, described the statement of Chief Dafinone as tissue of lies, insisting that he contrived the crisis to get at him.
In a letter, entitled, “Allegation in respect of Misappropriation of N5.2 million tied to a project for Sapele Okpe Community”, which was addressed to Chief (Senator) Dafinone, dated 19/08/2011 and copied His Royal Majesty, HRM, Orodje of Okpe Kingdom and Chief T. J. Okpoko (SAN), Mr. Egbejule stated, “I refer to the above subject matter which was discussed in my absence and I wish to throw more light in respect of the sum mentioned above. Before my explanation, I wish to thank everybody for the concern shown during the meeting, which was held on the 12th of August, 2011 when I became suddenly sick and was carried away at your residence, it shows that we are our brothers’ keeper”.
“For record purpose, I wish to explain as follows: (1) As result of my effort, when I took the mantle of chairmanship in October, 2010, I raked in the sum of N10.4M from the Nigeria Gas Company (other details will be given at the appropriate time) (2) This money was meant for the building of two bungalows, one is near completion and is already been occupied by the Egwemese at Crudas Road, (after twenty years of promise (3) The other N5.2 less commission of 10 per cent left a balance of N4.560M. This amount was used to run the office of the community with the view of recovering such amount by generating fund and as soon as fund was generated the second project would commence.
“That being so, I attach herewith how the amount was disbursed with the knowledge of all the executives and the entire house, I announced at the general meeting that I will use this money to run the office with the view of replenishing it). (5) The treasurer Chief Sunday Temagin is the author of how the money was disbursed, the script speaks for itself. (6) I wonder why he said the money was shared, most of the expenditures bordered on legal cases running cost and maintenance of vehicle and empowerment to the executives sometimes, and the general house and those outside the meeting example (Egwemese, Egbotor-mua Youth etc) ”, he asserted.