Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was, on Tuesday, prevented from commissioning a road project in Sapele by thugs led by Mr. Monday Igbuya, the recently impeached Speaker of the state legislature.
Mr. Okowa, his deputy, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, and other top government functionaries were in the area to commission the road and inspect other projects as part of activities marking the second anniversary of his administration.
But Mr. Igbuya, leading a band of thugs, invaded the venue and chased away the governor and his entourage.
The governor, his deputy, the newly elected Speaker of the House, Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori; his deputy, Mr. Friday Osanibi, and other dignitaries had taken their seats in readiness for the event when Mr. Igbuya arrived with his thugs to start a protest.
The governor had to be quickly moved away from the venue. Members of his entourage also fled, leaving the venue for thugs believed to be loyal to the new Speaker and the legislator representing Warri North Constituency, Mr. Michael Diden (alias Ejele), to provide a counter-force.
Some Sapele youths and members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were also present at the venue, where they chanted “Sheriff Oborevwori is our Speaker, Sheriff Oborevwori is our leader.”
A young man, who claimed to be Mr. Igbuya’s supporter, told SaharaReporters that the protest was against the removal of Mr. Igbuya from office by 22 of the 29 members of the House.
"The protest is against Okowa because we know he was behind the impeachment of Igbuya and we can't allow such a person to visit Sapele to do anything. The governor was lucky that he was not attacked. Mr. Igbuya remains the Speaker of the House whether they like it or not. What you saw was child's play. The whole world will hear when we storm the Government House to continue our protest," the visibly angry youth said.
Reacting to the development, a PDP youth leader in Sapele, Mr. Sunny Nwankego, described the incident as unfortunate, blaming it on the youths’ inability to understand that Mr. Igbuya’s reinstatement could not have been true because the House has not yet sat.
"Some misguided and ill-informed supporters of the ousted speaker were celebrating last night at his hotel, claiming that he has been reinstated. To tell you how gullible they are, they do not understand that Igbuya was impeached and suspended for three months. Since then, the House has not sat. Where and when did members sit to lift Igbuya’s suspension and reinstate him as Speaker?" asked Mr. Nwankego.
The belief that Mr. Igbuya has been restored to his previous position was apparently induced by a rumor that Mr. James Ibori, the convicted former governor of the state, had intervened on his behalf.
This, however, was denied by Mr. Ibori, who said his name was just being dropped by Mr. Igbuya’s supporters.