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Bloody Clash Averted As OPC Inaugurates Itsekiri Chapter In Delta.


OPC leaders during the launch in Itsekiriland
By Saharareporters, New York

SaharaReporters has learned that what could have been a bloody clash between members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), on the one hand, and Nigerian policemen and some hired thugs, on the other, was averted last Tuesday during the OPC’s inauguration of an Itsekiri chapter in Warri, Delta state.

The inauguration was scheduled to take place at the Atuwatse II Model Primary School in Warri, but the venue was cordoned off by stern-looking police officers who forced guests to run for cover. Several sources told SaharaReporters that the police were drafted to the scene on account of a petition by a prominent Itsekiri figure, Rita Lori-Ogbe, who warned that the event could foment chaos and unrest. In addition to police officers, witnesses said the venue was also besieged by rented political thugs who wrecked the canopies, tables and chairs arranged for the event.

The police and thugs prevented the OPC leader, Gani Adams, and several hundred members from reaching the venue of the inauguration. Mr. Adams had arrived in Warri to preside over the OPC’s national coordinating council meeting and inauguration of the group’s Itsekiri chapter. Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State was expected to be the special guest of honor at the event which was disrupted by a team of policemen from “A” Division in Warri. “Some people were under the impression that the meeting could to instigate youths of the state to engage in disorderly behavior and to promote militancy in the area,” one source said.

Our sources disclosed that the heightened tensions in Warri were brought under control when the organizers decided to relocate the inauguration event to the residence of J.O.S. Ayomike, the chairman of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought. The national coordinating council meeting of OPC held at PK Hotels.

Mr. Adams described his visit to Warri as a homecoming, adding that the Itsekiri people shared the same ancestral lineage as descendants of Oduduwa. He said the Itsekiri needed the presence of OPC since the body was created to serve all Oduduwa descendants.

Mr. Adams also eulogized the late Alfred Rewane, a notable Itsekiri leader and co-founder of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), who played a significant role in the June 12 struggle. He added that the murder of Mr. Rewane created a huge vacuum in NADECO during the struggle against military despotism.

He explained that the OPC was created to cater for the needs of O’dua descendants in different parts of Nigeria as well as Benin Republic and the Caribbean. “We are not in Itsekiri (Warri) to cause problems, and I do not see anything bad in coming to Delta State,” he said. “OPC is a socio-cultural organization set up for the collective good of all Yoruba people.” He regretted that some highly placed persons had misconstrued the purpose of meeting which had been done before in Benin City as well as Port Harcourt.

“We founded the OPC to fight for the identities of all the Yoruba people all over the universe. There are about 46 million Yoruba in Nigeria and over 200 million all over the world. Itsekiri is part of the descendants of Oduduwa. Therefore, they need the support of the OPC. The inauguration of the OPC chapter was to forge closer ties between Itsekiri and Yoruba people.  The Itsekiri nation would be more powerful and formidable politically with the alliance it has cemented with the OPC,” said Mr. Adams.

He added that the Itsekiri people had much to gain from belonging to the OPC. “Our members in this community are more than 2,000. If we had marched them to the field, there would have been chaos. I have to thank the leadership and organization skill of the Itsekiri for the level of understanding,”

Speaking earlier, an Itsekiri figure, Gbubemi Abigor, lamented the misinformation spread about the event. “Our idea is to have contact with our brothers from the Southwest (OPC) and ensure that we can relate socially, economically, politically,” he said. “We deem it necessary that we should avoid anything that can dent this noble relationship we are trying to create,” he added. Another Itsekiri, Lucky Akaruese, celebrated the cementing of the bond between Itsekiri and Yoruba. He condemned the invasion of the earlier venue of the meeting by police officers and thugs. He said, “No government has the right to bar citizens from holding meetings, having peaceful assemblies, when there are international human rights laws that guarantee this kind of peaceful assembly. Hence, we want to let the world know that we cannot be intimidated, it is our right to assemble.”

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Gani Adams, Itsekiri ‘ll benefit from OPC.


Gani-Adams-003

The National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, yesterday said the group was prepared to assist the Itsekiri

if the need arose.

Speaking in Warri, Delta State after inaugurating the state chapter of the OPC, Adams said as descendants of Oduduwa, the Itsekiri would benefit socially, culturally and politically from their relationship with the OPC.

Referring to the controversy, which greeted OPC’s inauguration on Tuesday, he said it was not a militant group as portrayed, adding: “We are not in Itsekiri land to cause trouble.”

The ceremony was initially thwarted by security operatives, prompting the Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC) to shift it to the home of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILOT) Chairman, Pa J.O.S. Ayomike.

Adams hailed INYC and ILOT for their roles in helping to realise OPC’s dream of having an Itsekiri chapter. He said the event would open opportunities for the Itsekiri and their Yoruba brothers.

According to him, OPC was instrumental to the repositioning of the Yoruba as a key national player, noting: “Before, we were considered as cowards, but today the world knows that the Yoruba are not cowards. This is due to the roles of the OPC.”

Adams said the group played active roles in the agitation for the realisation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which the late Chief MKO Abiola was believed to have won.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Commotion as Gani Adams inaugurates OPC Itsekiri chapter.


Gani-Adams

There was tension and drama in Warri, Delta State yesterday as the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, inaugurated a Delta State chapter of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Itsekiri community.

What would have been a bloody confrontation between angry Itsekiri youths and security operatives was averted by the swift intervention of the leadership of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC) and members of the OPC.

Adams, who led 2,000 OPC leaders, including Alhaji Oyinlola Awe, Lateef Oladimejo and Mudashiru Aderibigbe, National Admin Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer; INYC President, David Tonwe and others, were stopped from the venue of the ceremony.

The ceremony, scheduled for 11am at the Atuwatse II Model Primary School, Esisi Road in the Oil City, was later moved to a private residence when policemen invaded the scene and barricaded the entrance to the premises.

Mr. Gbubemi Abigor, INYC spokesman, lamented the misinformation spread about the event.

“Our idea is to have contact with our brothers from the Southwest (OPC) and ensure that we can relate socially, economically, politically, etc.

“Funny enough, this very good and noble intention was marred by negative speculations. We deem it necessary that we should avoid anything that can dent this noble relationship we are trying to create,” Abigor, who spoke on behalf of INYC President, David Tonwe, said.

Speaking in the same vein, Otunba Adams, who led a large contingent of about 80 of OPC National Coordinating Council members to Warri, said: “We are not in Itsekiri (Warri) to cause problem and I do not see anything bad in coming to Delta State.”

The OPC leader regretted that respected Itsekiri leaders would spread false information about an ordinary meeting between two closely related ethnic groups, who share ancestral linkage.

He said the congress was not a fully militant group as it was portrayed, stressing that the group has played its part, like other ethnic bodies, in restoring pride of place to the Yoruba nation.

He hailed the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought for ensuring that OPC Delta State (Itsekiri chapter) was inaugurated and the INYC for hosting the OPC National Coordinating Council (NCC) Meeting without the predicted breakdown of law and order.

“With what we have done, we have shown a great deal of maturity. We played down the issue of confrontation.

“Our members in this community are more than 2,000. If we (had) marched them to the field, there would have been chaos. I have to thank the leadership and organisation skill of the Itsekiri for the level of understanding,” he added.

Earlier, Pa Ayomike, who received the OPC and INYC teams in his home, slammed the state government for preventing attendees from enjoying the freedom of association as provided by the constitution, stressing that it has become a recurring incident for the government to violate the constitution.

However, he commended Otunba Adams and the leadership of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, led by Tonwe, for achieving the goal of the day despite the intimidation and harassment by security operatives.

Pa Ayomike, a reputable historian, later presented one of his books, titled: ‘Warri: A Focus on The Itsekiri’, to commemorate the historical visit.

The inauguration of Comrade Hakeem Agboola as the OPC Delta chapter coordinator was witnessed by Mr. Amorighoye Mene, Mr. Edward Ekpoko, Chief F.A. Rewane, Prof. Tony Afejuku, Mr. David Iwere and Dr. Lucky Akaruese

Source: Radio Biafra.

Court orders the leader of MEND Charles Okah for psychiatrist test.


Charles-Tombrah-Okah

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Wednesday, ordered Charles Okah, who is a younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Henry, be subjected to a psychiatric test.

The court directed that the test should be conducted with a view to ascertaining if Charles who is currently answering to a criminal allegation bothering on terrorism, is fit to stand trial.

Okah, alongside one Obi Nwabueze, are facing trial over the 2010 Independence Day twin bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, which caused the death of about 12 people, leaving several others injured.

It will be recalled that one of the alleged masterminds of the bombing, Mr Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’, died in prison while the trial was going on, even as the high court, in a separate judgment, jailed one of the accused persons, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.

All the accused persons were said to have superintended over varying terrorist activities that hitherto took place within the oil rich Niger Delta region of the country, including the bomb explosion that rocked a post amnesty programme that was organised by Vanguard Newspaper in Warri, Delta State.

Meanwhile, Charles, who has since gone to the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court to challenge his trial, was yesterday brought to court in a wheel chair by prison officials.

His lawyer, Mr John Ainetor, told the court that his client’s health condition has deteriorated, maintaining that Charles, who shook uncontrollably while inside the wheel chair yesterday, could no longer walk.

He alleged that the prison authorities denied him of adequate medical care, say6ing it was the sole reason why the accused, despite spirited efforts, could not stand in t6he dock yesterday.

In his response, the prosecutor, Dr Alex Iziyon, SAN, maintained that the accused person was deliberately trying to hoodwink the court into believing that he is not fit to stand trial.

Iziyon argued that the legal requirement that the accused must be fit to stand trial does not imply that he must be able to stand on his feet in court.

He contended that the law stipulated that he must be of sound mind and be conscious enough to understand happenings around him.

Iziyon, citing the case of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, who was taken to court while in bed, and in a cage, and noted that if the law could allow a former president to be so treated, Okah, an ordinary citizen cannot hid under a doubtful claim of ill-health to evade trial.

He argued that the claim of ill-health was a part of the defence counsel’s strategy to continue to delay trial.

However, Justice Kolawole, drew attention of the lawyer to a medical report that was written on Okah by the prison authorities, which was equally endorsed by the Chief Consultant Neurologists at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Part of the report by the medical experts at the National Hospital was to the effect that by his conduct, there was need to subject Okah to Psychiatric evaluation, to ascertain his mental state.

Consequently, the court held that in view of such expert opinion, there was need to ascertain the exact mental status of the accused person.

“I am ready to exercise a little more patient”, the judge stated, even as he ordered that the accused be taken to the National Hospital for psychiatric evaluation within seven days from today.

The judge equally ordered that the report of the examination should be made available to the court through the court’s Deputy Registrar (Litigation).

He held that should it turn out that the accused (Okah) is not mentally stable enough to be subjected to trial, he should be transferred to a psychiatric home where he will remain until he is certified fit for trial.

The judge further held that the bill for the treatment and examination of the accused person should be paid by the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), just as the case was adjourned till January 15.

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

Source: Radio Biafra.

Uduaghan Nominates Dead Man For Board Appointment.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

Members of the Delta State House of Assembly were on Tuesday thrown into a state of astonishment when they discovered that one of the seven persons nominated by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for appointment into the Delta State Tourism Board had died a while ago.

Last week, Mr. Uduaghan had included the name of James Youmu in a list of nominees for the state’s tourism board that was forwarded to the legislature for screening and confirmation. Mr. Youmu has been dead

The other nominees for the same board are Efe Afe, Peter Okolotu, Hyacinth Iyere, Amah Agbajoh, Abel Eyube and Joe Morg.

There was a mild drama during the screening when Mr. Youmu, the fourth nominee on the list, was called up. Mr. Afe, a former member of the state assembly who was screened as the chairman of the board, immediately told the House that the said James Youmu had died even before the names were sent for screening.

The embarrassing situation raised eyebrows among lawmakers. The strange incident became a new chapter in the governor’s controversial actions regarding the membership of the state-owned agencies and parastatals.

Last week, a prominent member of the Delta State House of Assembly had told SaharaReporters that he was dismayed that the governor sent a list of nominees for the boards of state-owned agencies after the governor had sworn in the nominees into office three months ago. The legislator said that the governor’s belated action was “evidence that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has lost focus.”

Other legislators also told SaharaReporters that they were taken aback by the governor’s letter forwarded a letter with the names of nominees after he had inaugurated them, thereby violating the law. “Why did His Excellency send us names of nominees for state boards for screening and confirmation when the boards were inaugurated by the same governor some months ago?” one of the state lawmakers wondered.

Several of the legislators wondered why none of the governor’s aides had warned him against inaugurating boards without first forwarding the names of their members to the state assembly for vetting and approval, as demanded by law.

A letter titled “Request For Confirmation Of Nomination Of Chairmen And Members Of Certain Boards” and personally signed by Governor Uduaghan was accompanied with a list of nominees to be screened for appointment into the Delta State Tourism Board, Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri; Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, and Delta State Rural Development Agency.

The latest development, where a dead man’s name appeared on the governor’s list, caused consternation among Deltans who went to the state assembly to witness the screening and confirmation exercise. “Who come put dead man for board?” one of the spectators mused, speaking in pidgin language.

We’ll deal with MEND –JTF.


mend

There is no end in sight to the war of words between the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield as the latter has vowed to clamp down on the former over its activities in the Niger Delta region.
Reacting to the claims by MEND that it was behind the killing of soldiers in a community between Rivers and Bayelsa states and the hijack of a vessel and kidnapping of two American sailors. JTF described those behind MEND as drowning gangsters feeding Nigerians with fabricated stories.
The media coordinator of JTF, Lt. Col Onyeama Nwachukwu while reacting to the pronouncement maintained that MEND did not cause the fire incident at the Warri Refinery and argued that the soldiers killed in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers were not killed by MEND soldiers.
Nwachukwu stated that the JTF would soon descend on MEND just like it has been able to smoke out other criminals causing instability in the region in the recent past.
His statement read in part: “These claims are a reflection of the grandiose illusion of drowning gangsters.
“It is no longer news that their insatiable and desperate desire to conjure up a seeming apocalypse in order to make the world see the Niger Delta as insecure has again failed, as they have continuously fed the public with lies of a grossly failed ‘Hurricane Exodus.’
“The NNPC Warri refinery fire incident, which the NNPC have clearly stated was accidental and occurred when their engineers were working in the top unit of the refinery, is a crystal clear example of the false claims of these criminals.
Our troops in the Andoni incident defended the civilians they escorted gallantly by ensuring their safety. How come the so called MEND did not claim responsibility before now as they would have usually done?
It is simply because they had no knowledge of it until we made it public and ridiculously they have jumped at it for self glorification.
“This claim is therefore an afterthought. The Merchant vessel named Retriever hijacked off the coast by unknown pirates was not at all escorted. It is a Merchant vessel, which had no escort and no JTF presence, how then could JTF have suffered casualty in that incident?”he asked.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Fuel scarcity imminent as fire razes Warri refinery.


 

Fuel-queues

Pandemonium broke out in Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State yesterday as the ailing Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, WRPC, was engulfed by fire.

Huge ball of smoke billowed into the air as the refinery went up in flames. This development heightened fears about imminent scarcity of petroleum products, especially in the areas serviced by WRPC in the Southern and Northern parts of the country.

The fire outbreak led to an abrupt closure of the refining plant. It was learnt that fire erupted at the nation’s pioneer crude oil refining plant at about 9:45a.m., a development which forced oil workers and dealers at the neighbouring Warri Loading Depot operated by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to scamper for safety.

 

The managements of WRPC and PPMC had to advice their employees to vacate the troubled scenes.

The jittery management of WRPC was apparently compelled by the prevailing circumstance to recall some safety personnel from vacation to avoid colossal threat to lives and property. Residents and oil workers within the vicinity of the plant were caught by fear of likelihood of an explosion resulting from the inferno. Panic-stricken residents dispatched distress messages to loved ones within and outside the city as fire ravaged the refining complex.

Specifically, oil workers in the Area Office of PPMC and Warri Depot also controlled by PPMC, led by Mr. William Enoh as well as the oil dealers attached to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, and the major oil operators in the depot, scampered in different directions to avoid being affected by the danger.

Although the fire was eventually put out by a combined team of fire fighters attached to NNPC, the moribund Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and Delta State Government, it has done collateral damage to some major units of the plant before the intervention.

Consequently, it was learnt that fire had damaged some multi-million dollars equipment in the plant before the arrival of the interventionist team of fire fighters. Security agents, especially the troops of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta, later cordoned-off the refinery and depot and prevented visitors, including journalists, from accessing the facility.

Our correspondent reported that tension gripped residents of the city and its adjoining Effurun, the headquarters of Uvwie Local Government Area of the state, as information about the latest fate of WRPC filtered into the city.

Eyewitness account told our correspondent that the fire erupted from a unit popularly referred to as “Area 1” in the refining complex, which produces kerosene, diesel and other by-products of petroleum products, especially light and heavy Naphta and heavy gas oil.

Reliable sources in WRPC told our correspondent that trouble started when a leakage on the Vacuum Unit Pump which supplies heavy gas oil, a major feedstock for the Fluid Catalystic Cracking, FCC, unit failed in the course of operation.

One of the sources said: “The hot petroleum products from the three major units Reforming and Topping as well as FCC units ignited fire as soon as unit pump control failed.

“The three major units were abruptly brought down and by implication; the entire plant had also been shut down immediately. We can’t officially determine the cause of the fire immediately until the system is cool and dry.

“The Department of Inspection and Testing in WRPC is expected to carry out investigation about the cause of the fire in the next few days and brief the management on their findings and also make appropriate recommendations to the authorities on the way forward,” added the source, who craved anonymity.

It will be recalled that the plant resumed operations lately after prolonged closure due to major faults at some of its strategic units. The maintenance of the damaged facilities was reported to have gulped million of dollars.

The Managing Director of WRPC, Mr. Paul Obelley, could not be reached for reaction to the latest fate of the plant yesterday. But an official of public affairs department of the ailing plant, who confirmed the report in an interview with National Mirror, added that Obelley had ordered investigation into the incident.

WRPC, the first government- owned refinery, was inaugurated in 1978 to process 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day. However, it was redesigned in 1987 to process 125,000 barrels of crude oil per day

Source: Radio Biafra.

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