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Igoma: Former Youth President, Not Sylva, Responsible For Opu-Nembe Communal Issues

The former regent stated that there was no connection between politics and the attacks on the kingdom.

Former Reagent of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, Dr. Ikaonaworio Eferebo Igoma and lawyer, Stanley Damabide have come out to give a right of reply to claims that the attacks on the Opu-Nebe community in Bayelsa state are politically motivated.

In a previous interview, Chief Ezekiel Teigbenyo Okoli, chairman of the Opu-Nembe Chiefs Council, stated that former Bayalsan Governor , Timipre Sylva in cahoots with Sam Kojo were behind the four attacks in the community that have taken the lives of citizens of the kingdom. He also stated that the police were being used as a tool by the accused persons to cover up for the attackers. He stated that the conflicts can be dated back to the 2019 elections and the need to deliver the state into the hands of a political party.

However, in an ARISE NEWS interview on Wednesday, Chief Igoma h explicitly stated that not only did Timpreye have no hand in the attacks but also that Chief Okoli had been neglectful to the needs and cries of the people. He labelled the chief as a puppet to the alleged culprit, former Youth President of Opu-Nembe Kingdom,  Comrade Theophilus Iruo.

“For about two years now, there is no light and waste in the community. And so as concerned citizens we tried to confront the council chairman, chief Okoli who spoke with you extensively yesterday and other  issues that were bothering the community. And he didn’t take us seriously. As a former regent of the community, it behooves me to bring peace and that was the role we have been playing since I left that seat and we got a king. 

“In 2023, 23 well meaning Opu-Nembe citizens were killed. And the then reigning king deemed it fit to call  chiefs and other well meaning Opu-Nembe people. We spoke extensively and pushed that issue behind us. And I feel if there were issues, Chief Okoli would have called the other chiefs council and solved the issue. He didn’t do that. What he did was to look unto the youths to intimidate people who spoke against the abnormality taking place in the community. 

The former reagent states that he was almost intimidated out of the community for speaking out and lost property. He stated that he was “bemoaned” by how the government is handling the issue and asked that they call the two sides of the parties involved to discuss and come to an agreement. He also debunked any connection to the 2019 guber election as it was “peaceful” with each candidate given equal chance to campaign.

Also in the interview, Lawyer Stanley Damabide stated that Chief Okoli’s statement is a flagrant “misstatement and  misjudgement” of the fact that is on ground in Nembe Community. 

“We have gotten to the point of exasperation. Because repeatedly the police have been petitioned about the happenings of the community and we’re getting really frustrated that they didn’t act until they acted repeatedly. 

“The core issue is that there is display of criminality and criminal acts orchestrated by one figure; the youth president who, if Chief Okoli is sincere, will tell you he’s a hostage of. To all the core issues, the questions we should be asking based on the realities on ground is ‘are there arms discovered by the police in the course of their sting operation in the community? Are there reports of extrajudicial killings? Do we have a situation where persons have been barred from entering into that community?” 

He brought up instances where the youth president barred a chief from coming into the community, labelling him as a wizard responsible for ailments the president’s father is suffering. 

The Bayelsa Government has stated that they had inaugurated a six man Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Tuesday to look into the events that took place in the first attack on the community on February 15th that claimed the life of three persons.

“The government of Bayelsa state displayed bias on this issue. They have taken sides. I don’t know for what reason but that’s the sad reality because complaints of misdeeds and criminal conduct of the youth president and his elements and to the matter of fact of government, they cannot claim to not be aware of all this. The big question is, for all these years that these complaints were lodged, what was the response of the government? Nothing.“

“I would say that as much as it is good to constitute this panel, a lot of people on this other side do not have confidence in them because we are judging from antecedents and there is this fear that the panel might be constituted to achieve targeted purposes that may not reflect and represent justice in the community. “

Glamour Adah

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