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Summary Execution Of Delta State Ex-Gubernatorial Candidate - Questions Over Uduaghan's Role

November 29, 2011

Deltans are greeting with incredulity and outrage, the news of the killing of Chief  Honourable  Ogbe Onokpite, who was the candidate of the Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) in the Delta State 2007 and 2011 gubernatorial elections. 

Deltans are greeting with incredulity and outrage, the news of the killing of Chief  Honourable  Ogbe Onokpite, who was the candidate of the Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) in the Delta State 2007 and 2011 gubernatorial elections. 

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Chief Onokpite was shot to death on 26 November 2011, but there are conflicting stories as to the circumstances surrounding what many are calling an extra-judicial ‘summary execution.The police report says that they had intelligence that Chief Ogbewas in the process of purchasing arms. In an interview, the Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Mr. IbrahimTsafe,  said that Chief Ogbe and ‘accomplices were ambushed by the police detectives who were deployed in the hotel from the Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Warri” and that he “was negotiating for arms in the hotel”. 

Mr. Tsafe further said that Chief Ogbe was coming down from the hotel, “we asked him to surrender but he declined to surrender, instead he confronted the police in company with his men”.

In the account of the police, a gun battle ensued in which ChiefOnokpite received fatal injuries, saying, “he died before help could get to him in the hospital”.

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However, many in Delta State are questioning this account of the events by the police. Among the questions being raised are:the source of the police ‘intelligence’; whether or not a gun battle actually took place; and whether the event was the planned, targeted killing of a political rival to the Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan

Eyewitnesses have reported that Chief Ogbe was actually shot in his hotel room, unarmed.  Chief Ogbe had been staying atBeeland Hotel, on Oruwhorun Road, which is owned by a popular PDP chieftain, Chief Ben Egbetamah in Udu local government area of Delta state.  Chief Ogbe is said to have been arrested and shot, then taken alive by the police, in whose custody he then bled to death.

Chief Ogbe was known to be an opposition leader in Delta State who believed strongly in justice and the rule of law.  He was a law abiding citizen of the state who was based in Canada but relocated recently to Nigeria to participate in politics. Initially he was a member of PDP and supported Uduaghan.  He later ran under the banner of the Citizens People Party but openly gave his support to the Democratic Peoples Party, citing the poor performance of Governor Uduaghan, his stewardship over massive looting and abuse of State resources, and themarginalisation of Urhobo youths in the State. 

It is on record that Chief Ogbe openly campaigned againstUduaghan, as a result of which he received numerous threats. On the 26th of April 2011, following the April governorship election in Delta state, Chief Ogbe was arrested at the INEC offices after he challenged the manipulation of results that were being collated at the centre. He was imprisoned at the Nigeria Prisons, Okere, Warrion trumped-up charges of murder.  He spent over two months in that prison without charge and was recently freed.  This was also seen as a politically motivated arrest as he had mobilised his community of Uvwie Local government Area against Governor Uduaghan

At the time, members of Chief Ogbe’s group called for his immediate release saying that “We believe that the political enemies of Chief Onokpite planned, masterminded and are funding his imprisonment to allow them a free reign of terror and looting of Delta resources while also suppressing the true political will and mandate of the people”.

On the issue of Governor Uduaghan’s role, we have received information that at the time Chief Ogbe’s arrest, the Inspector in charge of the operation put a call through to the governor, and it is alleged that Uduaghan personally ordered his killing.  Witnesses in Warri also reported that immediately following the shooting, policemen in armoured personnel carriers as well asarmed military officers were deployed to patrol the streets ofWarri.  

witness who can’t be named in order to protect his safety, said that he spoke with Chief Ogbe four hours before the shooting and that Chief Ogbe was in high spirits and was encouraging him to visit Warri.  The witness said that he has also received death threats from members of the Uduaghan administration as well as information that plans were being finalised to assassinate Chief Ogbe.  He said he discussed these matters with ChiefOgbe but that Chief Ogbe told him not to worry.

Members of the Delta State Facebook group known as “Liberate Delta People’s Movement have been reacting to the news of a fellow liberator seemingly having been executed.  Theyoverwhelmingly see the killing as politically-motivated particularly as the State is preparing for local elections.  They have called on the Federal Government and International agencies to look into the matter.

The group’s spokesman, Mr. Cadre Drake, said ““We do not want to see the return of these kinds of killings to our State.  This is somebody who was in prison and freed only recently.  If what is reported is true, that he was arrested, then we do not expect the police to take the law into their own hands.  There must be full transparency in examining this incidence and the Delta State police can no longer be in charge of the investigations.  It is true that Uduaghan’s administration has been issuing threats against the opposition in the State and against citizens like me who are calling for accountability and the restoration of the people’s mandate.  This is completely unacceptable.”

Members of Liberate Delta People’s Movement have posted condolence messages on the Forum and goodwill messages for the family of Chief Ogbe.