10 January 2014, Warri – The Ugborodo Community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to call on the state government to stop meddling into the internal administration of the community, saying the interference of the state government was the cause of the crisis in the area and the controversy involving the proposed $16billion Ogidigben EPZ Gas Project.
The community also affirmed that persons facing criminal charges for embezzling their funds would neither chair the community’s governing council, nor chair the committee to liaise with the government and sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on their behalf.
Addressing journalists in Lagos yesterday when he led other community leaders to a press briefing, a two-time commissioner in the state, Dr. Alex Ideh, also insisted that all properties destroyed during the last weekend invasion of the community be rebuilt by the federal government.
On the issue of the gas project, Ideh said all issues relating to it must be handled by a committee duly set up by the members of the Ugborodo Board of Trustees, the Eghare-Aja and the Oloja-Orori, who is the spiritual head of the community.
“We want to say here that we as Ugborodo people support wholeheartedly, the establishment of this laudable project in our community and we appreciate most sincerely, the gesture of the federal government. We use this medium to thank Mr. President, the Vice-President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources for finally siting this project in Ogidigben in Ugborodo,” he said.
Ideh said the current crisis was caused by the refusal of Hon. Thomas Ereyitomi to vacate office as Chairman of Ugborodo Community Trust after his tenure expired in 2011.
According to him, when Ereyitomi was elected by the community elders and leaders in 2008, Hon. David Tonwe protested but the elders waived aside his protest and the state governor also prevailed on him to respect the wishes of the elders.
“In 2011, Ereyitomi’s tenure expired and the same process was adopted and Tonwe emerged as the Chairman of the Governing Council. Surprisingly, Ereyitomi refused to accept the decision of the elders of the community. Most shocking was the attitude of the governor of the state,” he said.
Ideh said rather than uphold the decision of the elders, the state government used the security apparatus to convene Ugborodo assembly where Ereyitomi, whose tenure had expired, was proclaimed chairman in the absence of the three custodians of leadership in the community.
He noted that if the state government had advised Ereyitomi and his friends to abide by the decision of the elders as Tonwe was advised in 2008, the current crisis would not have occurred, adding that it was the support of the state government that encouraged Ereyitomi to parade himself as the chairman.
– This Day