Protesting Youths

A harmless gift from the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company NPDC to the youths of Uzere community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta state has become the source of bloody clash and conflict among the youths.

As a result of the furore generated by the conflict over the disbursement of the gift, many Uzere indigenes have fled from their homes as some youths in the area have turned on the security operatives sent there to restore peace returning fire for fire through sporadic gunshots.

The N20million gift given to the community, it was gathered was to placate the youth and support their skill acquisition programme as the community is the host community of the Oil Mining Lease 28 of which the NPDC is the operator.

Trouble is said to have started when the N20 million purportedly given was diverted or misuse by the President General of the youths Felix Ewenede in connivance with some leaders in the community.

This ignoble act of the community leaders ignited a protest on Wednesday until Sunday attracting a team of over 200 security operatives including the army, navy and mobile police swamping the whole community.

Not less than 8 persons are said to have been hospitalized with Ogri, Columbus and Henry Etuwede accused of being behind the vicious attacks witnessed in the community.

They accused the trio of funding and supplying some community youths with guns and other dangerous weapons to attack those opposed to the “diversion and embezzlement” of the N20 million.

An indigene, speaking on the condition of anonymity said, “Ogri, has been a major financier of these armed boys unleashing terror on the community. Can you imagine that on Thursday, these armed boys were exchanging gunshots face to face with the army and mobile police in broad daylight?

“As we talk, army, navy and mobile police have taken over our community with these armed boys shooting day in, day out non-stop, destroying properties and looting homes in the night. Some of us slept in the waters until dawn because the community is in water because of the flooding. Everybody has run to other neighbouring communities
because of the crisis.”

An indigene Uzere and current President General of the Isoko apex union, Isoko Development Union, Iduh Amadhe, said the crisis is as a result of bad leadership, greed and hunger for illicit wealth in the community.

Amadhe explained further: “The community’s president-general is the major cause of the crisis because he wants to grab every kobo that comes into the community from multinational oil companies. You can’t withstand the shooting in that community by some armed youths chasing away perceived enemies and engaging security agencies in a gun duel.

“The recent N20-million largesse from the NDPC for skill acquisition for the youths that he diverted is the cause of this crisis that has rocked the entire community since Wednesday. Like some of us, we are still calling for peace and a combined team of security operatives
have already moved into the community.”

It was gathered that Felix Ewenede, the community’s president general, was arrested and detained at the state police headquarters, Asaba, for interrogation.

Reacting to the allegation of financing and supplying guns to some youths, Ogri said, “I am a peaceful man and will never be involved in anything that will cause a crisis in my own community.”

Meanwhile, at a security meeting organized by the Isoko South community and attended by traditional rulers, community leaders, councillors, the president-general of IDU, area commander, Ozoro area
command and heads of security agencies in the local government,
presided over by the council chairman, Itiako Ikpokpo, the crisis in
Uzere was condemned strongly by all.

Stakeholders, therefore, call on the state government to wade into the matter and investigate the root cause of the conflict towards finding a long-lasting solution to the fracas.