The council of elders of Obayantor 1 community in the Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State have appealed to all indigenes of the community who fled following a bloody leadership crisis to return home.

The 2022 crisis led to the death of several persons including security personnel.

The elders said it was time for everyone to join hands in the promotion of peace and development in the community.

The council of elders while debunking the allegations of land grabbing and intimidation of residents by security operatives, described the allegations as a figment of the imaginations of some unscrupulous elements from the community.

They appealed to all sons and daughters of Obayantor 1 to embrace peace, saying peace is the fulcrum of development.

Addressing indigenes on behalf of the council of elders, Elder Godwin Aghimien, the ‘Ozukpogieha’ of Obayantor 1 community, explained that the crisis started when the late ‘Odionwere’, Pa Omorose Omoruyi passed on.

He said “the elders met and directed the youth to choose among themselves who they deem fit to take the position of ‘Okaighele’ which eventually they presented one Osatohanwen Oduwa to the council of elders and the Enogie Idu Akenzua, Kenneth Amadin, past CDA chairman endorsed him publicly in the full glare of all and sundry in the community.

“About 16 youths led by Endurance Omorogie, aka Ajala came forward after seven months of installing Oduwa as the new ‘Okaighele’ and alleged that Oduwa sold 270 plots of lands to Prince builders without the knowledge of the elders of Obayantor 1 community.

“The elders in council met and set up a committee that investigated the allegations levelled against the ‘Okiaghele’ and came up with a report that revealed the allegations were all fabricated, merely seeking to indict the integrity and personality of Oduwa in other to disrobe him. The committee further reported that the community, not (Oduwa) sold 150 plots of land and the proceeds were paid into the bank account of Enogie, Idu Akenzua before his death.

“Having failed in a bid to indict Osato Oduwa in the sales of land without the knowledge of the community, one Obazee and his alleged gang came forward to allege that the Enogie and the elders of the community do not have the right to install the ‘Okiaghele’, adducing that it’s only the youths that have the right to install the ‘Okiaghele’.

“These actions got the elders piqued; they informed the youths that it’s against the Bini traditions for youths to install the ‘Okaighele’, as youths can only present who they want to lead them to the elders which the elders in council believed that it has been done when they presented Osato Oduwa to the Enogie and all these happened during the #ENDSars period.”

Narrating the root cause of the crisis, Elder Aghimien disclosed that the elders in council vehemently resisted and rejected one Endurance brought by the same gang of youths to be installed as the ‘Okiaghele’ after realising that the alleged gang was up to some sinister activities.

He said, “The gangs had to force one of the elders, Pa Iyamu Emokpa to install the said Endurance as the ‘Okaighele’ after chasing away the council of elders and the original ‘Okaghele’, Oduwa that had earlier been installed.

“All through the reigns of the illegal ‘Okaighele’, hoodlums and non-indigenes were however hired to take over the community and the once peaceful community eventually became a den of kidnappers, armed robbery, gun racketeering and other criminal activities that attracted the DSS to investigate the community and other security agencies were also drafted in to quell the criminal activities and the leadership tussle, which led to the increase of security checkpoints in the area to ensure that law and order are restored.

“As a result of the daily shooting by the hoodlums, there was a shoot-out between security personnel and the hoodlums which eventually led to the death of one of the security operatives of which till this time, his corpse has not been found.

“Following the death of the security operative, the presence of security checkpoints increased in the community and this scared away the criminal gangs from the community. While in our hideouts, we the council of elders advised Osato Oduwa to seek redress in the court of law which he did in the High Court of Justice in Benin City and was eventually declared the authentic and recognised ‘Okaighele’ by Hon. Justice A.N. Erabor on the 24th of October, 2022.”

One of the security personnel who spoke on condition of anonymity, said checkpoints are mounted in the area to scare hoodlums from carrying out their heinous activities.

“This has contributed to the fragile peace in the community where most of the indigenes that had run away for the safety of their lives when the community became a theatre of war are gradually returning home to live their normal lives.

“The community was overrun by hoodlums who were involved in all manners of criminal activities that led the residents to desert their homes,” the security operative said.

SOURCE: Sahara Reporters

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