Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The President and Commander-in-Chief,
(Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan),
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Aso Rock Villa,
OPEN LETTER: THREAT TO STOP THE GROUND-BREAKING OF THE EPZ PROJECT IN ESCRAVOS: A CALL TO RISE ABOVE ETHNIC CONSIDERATIONS
We are solicitors to the Ugborodo Community in Warri South/West Local Government Area of Delta State. The following members of the community namely, Chief Ayiri Emami and Chief Thomas Ereyitomi have briefed us as follows:
That certain individuals from Gbaramatu Kingdom led by one High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aliasTompolo) – who also recently threatened to kill me – have ganged up to give your Excellency certain conditions upon which you can be allowed to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the Escravos Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Project located in Ugborodo on Friday, November 14, 2014. One of such conditions is that the name of the project which has since been known and referred to by its location, that is Ogidigben(which is an Itsekiri community) must be changed to include the name “Gbaramatu” (an Ijaw community), which is a community that has nothing to do with the present location of the EPZ Project.
Your Excellency, the Ogidigben people are proud of the great people of Gbaramatu Kingdom, and are not in any way denigrating them, but there is no point renaming a project after a city that does not host such a project. It makes no sense. Unfortunately, these elements who foment trouble constantly ride on your back as“an Ijaw man” to make their claims.
This is therefore a call for you to rise above such mundane sentiments, and be the President of the entire country and not just the President of Gbaramatu Kingdom. Happily, the Delta State Government has graciously intervened and decided that the name of the project would be “Delta Gas City” which bears no colouration of any tribe, but surprisingly, those who claim to be your “brothers”, (to the exclusion of the rest of us), have rejected this middle-ground approach to the debacle and have threatened fire and brimstone unless you accede to their demand.
Your Excellency, we are informed that this latest provocation follows a pattern against our clients and the Itsekiri people that have existed for some time now. And on each occasion they parade your name as their “backbone”. A few examples would suffice:
The Maritime University was originally located in Koko (an Itsekiri Community) when Mr. Temisan Omatseye was the Director-General. In this location, the University was easily accessible to everybody, including the Ijaws and Itsekiris. However, when Tompolo installed his own nominee as the Director-General of NIMASA (which is the agency responsible for the running and management of the Maritime University), Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, the University was relocated to Okorenkoko, (which they claim belongs to theGbaramatu people).
However, even the claim of Okorenkoko by the Gbaramatu people is also another example of forceful usurpation of the rights of the Itsekiris. This is because judgment in Suit No. W/29/1949, delivered on 13th October, 1951 in the High Court of Justice Holden at Warri, pronounced Okorenkoko as belonging to Omadino, which is an Itsekiri Community. However, even in the face of this judgment, the Gbaramatu people are still claiming Okorenkoko.
Your Excellency, we can go on and on, but these are a few examples of an individual and his group thinking and boasting that they are above the law, and threatening everybody to submission in Delta State, including the Governor himself. Unfortunately, they use your name to perpetrate this unholy attitude. But at the same time, the various security agencies have not done anything to dispel this name-dropping. Recall that I sent a petition to your office and that of the D.G, SSS and the IGP about two weeks ago, that Tompolo had the temerity to call my phone and tell me of his plans to kill me. Yet you and your security agencies have refused to lift one finger over my petition.
Now, they are even threatening you in your exalted office not to come and perform the ground-breaking of a project, except their demands are met. Do we have two Presidents in Nigeria? Or two Governors in Delta State? Time will tell.
However, as counsel to the Ugborodo people and as a stakeholder in Delta State (a free born of the State), one million Tompolos will not threaten or intimidate us not to speak out against injustice. Let him come and kill all of us.
Mr. President, the world is watching you on this issue.
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.