Trouble in Delta community: One dead, Commissioner stabbed, 12 houses destroyed
The anxiety, in Uwheru community, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, on Wednesday, October 23, was palpable as apart from some residents, who still went about their business with foreboding, many residents had fled the town.
Some months ago, it was rampaging Fulani herdsmen that scared the daylight out of Uwheru residents, but, this time, the air of insecurity is from within.
Some influential sons of the community, embroiled in a fierce struggle for power, had resorted to lawlessness, stabbing the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare, last month, killing Mr. George Imiti, the brother of a councilor, vandalizing houses and property, in a chain of events that has made the community volatile.
Among the belongings destroyed by some mercenaries allegedly working for one of the camps were a house and Toyota Corolla car belonging to Mr. Pioneer Ogagamuero, PDP chairman in Uwheru ward, house and property of a councilor, Hon. Festus Orumana, and the house of Mr. Julius Inyevwe, his mother's house and a beer parlour.
Also destroyed was a house belonging to Obukowho Ekpewru, house and beer parlor of Ogboru Egbine, Akperi Ikpepu's house and property of Onyo Imoto, Ifi Paul, Wilson Umukoro, provision store of Margaret Ogbe and two houses/beer parlor of Boga Isaac Ogbe.
By Wednesday night, a source said military men were deployed in the community following a report that some persons planned to cause further mayhem.
Our source said, 'Soldiers patrolled the community on Wednesday night, but I do not know what is happening there as I am speaking to you today (Thursday)'.
On Friday, six days after the October 19 invasion, an armed gang struck again, injuring four persons, Julius Inyevwe, Moto Onyo, Arire Ajinome and Lucky.
Police Area Commander, Ughelli, Mr. Awotunde Aworisola, confirmed that the victims were rushed to the Central Hospital, Ughelli, saying policemen had been deployed to the community and the situation was under control.
The principal actors in the power game that had drawn blood also want to install the president general of the community.
The protracted political leadership struggle in the community assumed a nerve-racking dimension, September 7, when Commissioner Muoboghare was stabbed by irate youths at the Ughelli North Local Government Area secretariat of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, over a supposed plot to alter the Uwheru ward executive list, said to have been from Abuja.
Mr. Clement Osieta, Special Adviser to Delta State Governor on Community Relations, who lost his job subsequently, was fingered as the mastermind of the attack on the Commissioner, which he denied.
But the problem exacerbated, October 19, after what was described as a nocturnal counter- attack on the supporters of Osieta, allegedly orchestrated by a rival group.
How I escaped death - PDP chair
Recounting his ordeal to Sunday Vanguard in his hiding place, Ogagamuero, Uwheru PDP chair, said he was in his house in Erovie quarters of the community when he saw a group of persons coming tin his direction.
'I had to hide myself in a plantain plantation and, with the help of the security light that was on, I was able recognize some of them. They asked about my whereabouts from my wife and elder brother and they told them that I was not at home. They now said somebody told them that I was in and they asked my wife to open the door, which she did not oblige. They forced the door open and searched my house but they did not see me', he said.
'They destroyed all my property and took away N100, 000, which I gave to my wife to keep. They also took away my compact disc. My brother asked them why they were looking for me and they called the name of the person that sent them, saying I was among those that assaulted him the day they went for congress.
'They came in two cars with their plate numbers covered. I did not know if police officers were among them. My Toyota Corolla car that I parked outside my house was vandalized. Some of the louvers in my house were smashed and they were carrying AK 47 rifles with pump action. They were like assassins because they were not with police officers.
'Immediately they left, I heard announcements that anybody that is a follower of Osieta should leave the community, and that the person who sent them gave them authority to kill anyone of them found around. My wife and children ran away and I managed to leave the community'.
Another victim, Hon Festus Orumana, Transition Committee member of the Ughelli North Local Government Council, said he was not at home when the incident occurred. He said he heard that a politician sent some group of persons to 'vandalize my father's compound and this group of persons earlier murdered my brother, Imiti George Ebruphiyor.'
Mrs. Regina Inyevwe , also a victim, said he had closed from her shop where she sells assorted drinks when, at about 1 am, she heard gunshots and some persons singing war songs towards her residence.
'After sometime, I heard a noise as if they were breaking a window. They later came to my apartment and broke my door and went away. Later, my brother came to my place to say they destroyed my drinking parlor and my mother in-law's doors. Property worth about N300, 000 were destroyed in my shop. My husband, Julius, is a follower of Osieta,' she said.
Isaac Ogbe, alias Boge, a victim, said, 'On 19th October, 2013, I opened my guest house, and invited guests. The celebration was on with my guests drinking and dancing when, at about 2am, we started hearing gun shots. After sometime, a large crowd of persons came out of the other side of the road, heavily armed with guns, cutlasses and battle axes.
'They were still shooting when they got to my guest house and my guests started to run away. Immediately, they started destroying everything. I suspect that two of the persons that came with the boys were police officers and one of them alleged that I was among those who attacked a politician and they started beating me.
'Being the first day I opened the guest house, I could not withstand the destruction of my properties and I said the best thing for me to do was to die. They were many boys among them but I could recognize a few of them.
'The person I suspected is a policeman now told me that if he got someone who could testify that I was among those who attacked the politician, I would be arrested. They called one Mitaire Aragba, younger brother of Hon. Igho Arhagba, who with one Okaro Umukoro said I was not among those who attacked the politician', Ogbe said.
'I then asked them the reason they were destroying my property and they told me it was because I am an in-law to Hon Clement Osieta, because he is having an affair with my sister. They also said another reason was that I voted for APC in the last Senate bye -election and one of them , Akpobome, hit me with a battle axe.'
'Property worth N687, 000 were destroyed and they also made away with N67,000 that was with my wife. They stole the handsets of those that were with me and also destroyed the musical instruments of the DJ'.
Another victim, Mrs. Meg Ogbe, said, 'I was sleeping in my house in our family compound when they got to my place at about 2am shooting and destroying all the windows in the compound. They also went to my store in the compound hitting the door violently and I went out with my daughter through the back door thinking they were armed robbers.'
'Later, I noticed that some of them were boys of a big man in the community. They were carrying guns and cutlasses and they destroyed everything. They also took away N800,000 market day meeting money that was given to me to keep as well as all the money from my sales that day.'
Mrs. Ogbe said the villagers know the person that sent the boys to carry out the attack, adding, 'but, I don't have any problem with him. That is why I am calling on government to look into this matter and punish those who came to attack us. I am also calling on government to help me by assisting me with the money that was stolen.'
It was gathered that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, ordered investigation into the attack on the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education and some persons were arrested. A senior police officer confirmed: 'We have completed investigations into the attack and the suspects charged to court.'
He, however, said that there was a petition to the Commissioner over the killing of one George Imiti, which he ordered the State Investigation Bureau, SIB, to carry out a preliminary investigation and report back to him.
While Aduba was abroad on official assignment, a police team from Abuja reportedly came to take over investigation of the matter following a petition to the IGP by the complainant against the manner the police in the state were handling the murder.
It was gathered that about four persons were arrested by the Special Investigation Bureau, SIB, in connection with Ithe murder and five others by the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS.
A source said the suspects detained by SIB and SARS in Asaba and their case files were handed over to the Abuja team following a signal and directive to the state command from the office of Deputy Inspector General of Police, SCID.
The Abuja team detained the suspects afresh at the SCID, Asaba, but a senior police officer explained to Sunday Vanguard that the standing directive of the IGP was that Delta State Police Command should carry out full investigation into the matter. Vanguard