Ahead of the February 16 and March 2, 2019 elections, stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ikpide-Irri riverine community, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, have threatened that any indigene who casts his or her vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) would be banished from the community.
SaharaReporters reliably gathered that the decision was taken on Friday during the PDP stakeholders meeting held at John Kpokpogri's residence, a retired admiral at Ikpide-Irri community and attended by Aggrey Apena, a strong PDP member and Archbishop of Bethesda Gospel Mission, Pius Otolo, John Kpokpogri, Immanuel Emoefe, Chairman of PORTPLUS limited, a marine firm handling the N736,404, 555.60 road contract said to have been a ‘kola’ gift to the firm by Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
Speaking in confidence with our correspondent, a PDP member, who attended the meeting, said other decisions were reached during the meeting but what was top on the agenda was the “banishment” of any indigene who cast his or her vote for APC in the February 16 and March 2 elections.
He said: "At the meeting, the issue of the arrest of Mr. Endurance Ukpethu over the protest concerning the controversial ‘kola-nut’ road contract was also raised and Immanuel Emoefe, chairman of PORTPLUS limited, a marine firm handling the controversial Ikpide-Irri N736,404,555.60 road contract vowed to deal with the local government council chairman, Itiako Ikpokpo, for backing Ukpethu. Immanuel vowed to fight with the last drop of his blood to make sure that Ikpokpo and Ukpethu are jailed.
"At this juncture, Aggrey Apena, Archbishop of Bethesda Gospel Mission, Irri, cautioned him to tread with caution as those protesting against the controversial substandard road project meant well for the community and should be invited for a dialogue. However, Immanuel vehemently turned down the cleric’s advice. As I talk to you, following the banishment threat targeted at APC members, so many persons in the past two days have been dumping the APC for PDP for fear of being molested and banished.”
A community leader, who preferred not to be named for fear of attack by "political thugs" working for the PORTPLUS Limited Chairman, said: "The issue of banishing APC members in Ikpide-Irri by Immanuel and PDP leaders in the community as threatened is a fact and must not be handled with kids gloves at all.
"Before now, Immanuel and Kpokpogri, a retired Navy Admiral, had vowed to use their connections to occupy the community with soldiers and other security agents, who will harass and intimidate APC members during the general election. In the 2011 and 2015 elections, that was how Immanuel and Kpokpogri occupied the entire community with soldiers, harassing, beating and intimidating members of the opposition. I can also tell you that Immanuel has brought in wrappers to be distributed to women and girls, including cash, during the elections.
"Though I don't belong to any of the political parties in the community and I don't vote, a level playing ground must be allowed for all parties in the community during the elections. You know Immanuel will do everything to protect his food from the PDP and to grab more multi-million naira contracts and amass illicit wealth to the detriment of the community indigenes. A case study is the controversial Ikpide-Irri road contract which he said was given to him as kola-nut Governor Okowa.”
A member of the APC in the community, who simply identified himself as Orowo, confirmed the development to our correspondent, stating that “series of secret meetings have been going on at the residence of the owner of PORTPLUS limited, perfecting plans on how to rig the elections and use soldiers to harass, intimidate and beat us members of the APC in the community which they have done in the past before now. You can't turn a whole community into a one-party community.
"We APC members in Ikpide-Irri community want to use this medium to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the party’s governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, the immediate past governor of the state and APC Delta South senatorial candidate, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Honourable Joel-Onowakpo Thomas of Isoko federal constituency to come to our aid and also put solid measures in place for the protection of our members in Ikpide-Irri during the elections.
"How can a man will so be desperate and dubious and fraudulent and plan to maim his own people because of elections? This is a man, for reasons best known to him, changed his real name from Emmanuel Omojefe to Immanuel Emoefe. This is a man that was given a road contract of almost one billion Naira as kola by Okowa, according his elder brother and president general of Ikpide-Irri, Mike Omojefe. Immanuel and his cohorts have always been involved in vote buying in this community during elections.
"At the end, he will use the community to negotiate for political appointment for his family members and grab contracts. For good sixteen years now, the senator representing Delta South senatorial district, James Manager, and member representing Isoko federal constituency, Leo Ogor, have failed the people Ikpide-Irri community and Isoko in general, as such must be voted out. Blood will flow should they carry out their plans to rig the elections and use soldiers to harass and intimidate us,” the APC declared.
At the time of filing in this report, all efforts to reach out to Immanuel Emoefe and other PDP leaders who participated in the stakeholders’ meeting, proved abortive as their mobile lines were not be reachable. However, a community member disclosed that the riverine community has no mobile network due to the terrain.