February 19, 2013 | Feature Article
POST-IRRI MASSACRE: JOSHUA UTURU ALIVE OR DEAD
Irri community was one of the peaceful communities in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, until in 1989/1990 when the Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of Church of God Mission International had a strong altercation with his former second-in-command, Archbishop Apena of Bethseda Church International which almost created a mini-war that resulted into massive destruction of property that worth millions of naira and people were wickedly killed and ostracized from the community. After that similar incident, Irri community is one the largest community in both Isoko South and Isoko North that has over 9 villages which include Ivrogbo, Ada, Uro, Ivori, Ikpide, Idheze, Utwe, Ekenni, Orie and others. In the late 80s, similar leadership crisis on oil dichotomy also resulted in one of the Irri communities, precisely Idheze Irri where High Chief Sergeant Uredi and Late Chief Owajutome fought mercilessly that torn the community apart where some Idheze people went on compulsory exiles and some were grossly ostracized and victimized by powers that be. Though Idheze community was divided into two parts where some weresupported by the former and others for the latter. Most of these notorious crises emanated from the oil companies that were found in these Irri communities where some Isoko power brokers wanted to take all benefits that belong to these suffering communities without considering the community people that owns the land. Idheze community crisis took many years to be totally resolved after many lost of precious lives, intimidation of certain Isoko cabals and ingenious powers in the community. It took the intervention of government and some notable Irri sons and daughters to amicably nail the crisis to the bud. Even as many political elections were conducted in all the Irri communities, no crisis emanated until one Chief Joshua Uturu, a former Irri President- General, ordinarily, a community leader not a registered one almost torn Irri community into a free for all fight trying to incorporate Agip oil under his own name through influence in government circles. The so-called and self-styled Chief Joshua Uturu leadership crisis started in 2009 where over innocent and hapless eighteen persons were killed with no just cause. The fear of living in Irri community under Uturu 1 was the beginning of being killed indiscriminately or publicly without any protection from government security agencies. Even most of the Isoko community crises were caused by the Agip oil, Chevron and others for not pacting with the host communities on MOU.Uzere lingering crisis waas caused by Agip oil by some dubious elements who wereonly interested in enriching themselves and nothing else. Even Emede and Igbide crisis in the late 90s was caused by land dispute while oil companies were not exempted from the issue. In 2007, precisely, Ekpe in Ndokwa East had land dispute with Ivrogbo-Irri which Shell discovered oil that almost made these two communities resulted into fierce war but was intercepted by some eminent sons of the latter. To some large extent, the Irri community lingering communal crisis that has led to the killings of innocent sons and daughters of the peaceful Irri kingdom was pioneered by Uturu 1.Though many people believed much on Uturu because the community was controlled by certain cabals that led to the Lagos based Chief to be nominated as the fearless former President- General that could take the people to the promised land without qualms but abysmally failed to carry the people along when the ovation was the loudest. Despite the efforts of His royal Majesty Oviese Eba Ojenuwe 11, Odiologbo of Irri kingdom to resolve the issue which the then Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 5, Benin City, Edo state, Baba Ahmed was accused of releasing some Uturu boys and collaborators that allegedly involved in the series of murder in the kingdom. Several petitions were sent to the Inspector- General of Police, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State Governor and President Jonathan Goodluck to arrest Uturu and his boys with no avail until the late Barrister Alex Ofehe personally wrote a petition against him that led to his arrest.Uturu was a fearless leader with high connection from above and a notorious mafia in Irri community. He initially had good intention to integrate Irri community as one but Agip oil brought the total distraction. The problem with the said Uturu is that after completing his second tenure in office as a President- General of Irri community, he dubiously and unconstitutionally opted for third term as the then former President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to do in 2007, which was contrary to Irri constitution with his maladministration, highhandedness and misappropriation of Irri community funds. The Uturu crisis was even worse than Boko Haram saga in the Northern parts of Nigeria. Those who benefitted from Chief Joshua Uturu has equally denied him since he was incarcerated in the Kwale prison while only few people still pay him visit in the prison. One of the problems that escalated Uturu's mindset was that some of his faithful and dedicated followers were afraid to advice him rather than supported his infamous moves of eliminating innocent Irri sons and daughters in the land. Several security curfews were imposed by the State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan to quell the situation but the crisis generated into uncontrollable tactics that Chief Uturu was untouchable together with his sponsored boys. Again, some of these innocent Irri sons and daughters were killed by Uturu's squad are yet to be interred while some of his political groups are making significant moves to see that Uturu is released from the prison while all aggrieved parties resolved the altercation for future progress of the Irri community. But rumors making round indicated that Uturu was released on bail that his camp was overwhelmed and elated to welcome their mentor only to be told that he was re-arrested by the police and with several court charges of murder case against him of 2011.Chief Joshua Uturu was once a leader with vision who saw Irri community as the only community to influence tangible projects to the youths and others. Some schools of thought assume that Chief Uturu is cooling his feet in Kwale prison pending when the court would grant him bail if the need arises. Though, many people saw Uturu as a wicked leader who created unnecessary problems to Irri community with amidst tears of lost of innocent souls. In spite that government officials paid courtesy visits to make peace in the land, Uturu never care to listen to these advisers rather doing what he liked best in terms of community leadership and others. The fear that Uturu would be released soon has created palpable fears of some of the Irri people that went on compulsory exiles only to return after Uturu's arrest. Lastly, Chief Uturu only met the crisis which he was sent from Lagos to resolve the crisis amicably over some powerful Irri community cabals that used National Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to manipulate its people without considering its implications. The state of Irri community was an eyesore where people fled to nearby Isoko communities for protection of being killed unjustly by the killers' gang. Again Uturu intended to incorporate his name on Agip oil as his own property without the notice of the community. Most of the Isoko community crises are caused by oil companies. For Irri community to have glowing serene environment, all the affected families of the slain victims must be compensated and befitted burial ceremonies should be organized to the victims too. These sets of cabals from 2000 to 2002 have been using NAOC to defraud its people which instituted panel set up to checkmate the excesses of some of the past and present Irri community leaders over the activities of Agip oil since it came to the land. It is time for Agip oil and other oil companies to enter into signed Global Memoranda of Understanding (GMOU) with Irri community on how to provide Scholarships for all Irri students to the University level both abroad and Nigeria. Some of the prominent sons and daughters that contributed to the peace of Irri community which must be commended are Hon. Benjamin Essien, Hon Raphael Okelezo, Rt, Major-General Paul Omu, Rt. Gen Alex Ogbomudia, Dr Gregory Akpojene, Senator Stella Omu, Hon Fineboy Dickson, Prof. Ekoko and others. BY GODDAY ODIDI. 20 oro street Ajegunle Apapa Lagos.08058124798.Articles by Godday Odidi
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Godday Odidi and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."