Thursday, 6 March 2014
Two Die In Uzere, Delta State As Deposed King, Former Council Chair, LEA Scribe Are Accused Of Sponsoring Armed Invaders
SaharaReporters has learnt that two persons lost their lives during the week as gunmen invaded the oil-rich Uzere community in the Isoko South local government area of Delta state. Several members of the community told SaharaReporters that they suspect the gunmen, who reportedly arrived from neighboring Irri, were hired for the killing mission by Isaac Udogri, the exiled traditional ruler of Uzere, as well as Askia Ogieh, a former boss of the Isoko South council. The community sources also accused Solomon Ewenede, a former secretary of the Local Education Authority (LEA), of complicity in sponsoring the tragic invasion.
At one point, Nigeria’s security officials killed three youngsters in the community. A source told SaharaReporters that the killings were unconnected to the memorandum of understanding that Shell officials refused to sign with the community in 2011.
The gunmen reportedly invaded Uzere at about 6:50 a.m. brandishing pump action guns. “They shot sporadically into the air for about 20 minutes before they retreated to Solomon Ewenede’s house in the kingdom,” a source told SaharaReporters.
The source added that a group of youngsters in the community went to Mr. Ewenede’s house on learning that the gunmen were there. “As they approached Ewenede’s house, the gunmen opened fire, killing one Omojoli ldolor, a security guard to the newly installed traditional ruler, Henry Etuwede 111.”
Our source disclosed that the Uzere youths regrouped for a reprisal attack on Mr. Ewenede’s house. “They killed one of the gunmen and severely wounded another one,” the source disclosed. In addition, the irate youths reportedly razed Mr. Ewenede’s house. SaharaReporters learnt that a team of stern-looking soldiers, anti-riot mobile police officers and naval officers had established a presence in the community.
Several members of the community accused the police as well as the state government of cooperating with the deposed ruler and Mr. Askia in order to cause mayhem in Uzere. One source said police officers last Wednesday came to the town and arrested some people perceived to be opposed to the deposed king. Some community members believe the police officers came at the behest of the dethroned ruler.
Our correspondent contacted Goodluck Idele, the chair of the local government area, but he seemed too confused to speak. Mr. Idele, who hails from the troubled community, merely said, “Please I can’t talk to you now, Please I can’t talk to you.” The tone was a departure from his recent confident statement that peace would soon be restored to Uzere.
Some people in Uzere accused the chairman of taking sides in the escalating discord within the community as well as acting the script handed down by his masters. However, one source said that Mr. Idele had apologized two weeks ago to the community.
Today’s violence is the latest in a string of disturbances that has plagued Uzere since the two-year crisis began. Uzere residents have had a running battle with Shell Petroleum over oil spillage as well as the destruction of the community’s traditional means of livelihood.