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SOUTH UPDATE

Isoko foremost political group, IAN, gets new executives

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The new IAN Chairman, Chief John Paul Odhomor (middle), Vice Chairman, Chief Dickson Ebegbare (right) and Secretary, Hon. Oghale Ofremu (left) after been sworn during their meeting in Oleh, Isoko South Local Area of Delta State, recently

BY Iteveh Ekpokpobe

Christ very vicar, the ‘Pope’ is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church. His election was ab initio devoid of the elaborate rigors it is accorded these days.

It was concerns around political interference leading to reforms after the interregnum of 1268–1271 and Pope Gregory X’s decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274, that the cardinal electors should be locked in ‘seclusion cum clave’ (Latin for “with a key”) and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome had been elected. Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Since the Apostolic Age, the Bishop of Rome, like other bishops, was chosen by the consensus of the clergy and laity of the diocese. The body of electors was more precisely defined when, in 1059, the College of Cardinals was designated the sole body of electors. Since then, other details of the process have developed.

In 1970, Pope Paul VI limited the electors to cardinals under 80 years of age in Ingravescentem aetatem. A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope. It is always a world spectacle.

Like the conclave which births a pope, an elective session of the Isoko Advancement Network (IAN), the foremost socio-political group of Isoko extraction is everything thing to talk about. Reason is not far-fetched from the lofty height the group is held in the ranks of Isoko politicking.

In fact, one cannot discuss Isoko Politics without a mention of Isoko Advancement Network (IAN) just as a discussion of Nigeria without making mention of ‘Jamar Mutani Arewa’ cannot be complete, in appropriating a leaf from prolific columnist Eze Martins-hassan Esomchi, one would say that any attempt to do so is like talking about Chinua Achebe’s ‘things fall apart’ and forgetting Okonkwo the tragic hero.

The Isoko Advancement Network (IAN) is a brain child of Chief (Comrade) Ovuozourie Samuel Macualay, the Okiroro of Isoko Land, Patron, IAN. It was formed in 2006 when he enthused about the need to form a political pressure group to articulate the needs and desires of Isoko people. It was the desire of Macaulay that, just like other ethnic nationalities in Delta state, Isoko should have a common voice in local and national issues. The first meeting of the technical committee of the group was held at International Hotel, Oleh.

In specific terms, the aims and objectives of IAN as enunciated include, acting as a think-tank to Isoko politicians in government, providing moral and logistic support before, during and after elections, playing the role of a pressure group to articulate the needs of the Isokos in particular and Deltans in general, assisting members in their quest for political and economic power and standing as a bulwark for our political leaders.

The group has since been under the distinguished leadership of Hon. Mike Ogwah aka ‘Worldwide’, described by fiery activist, Barrister Duncan Afahokor of ‘Umeh Need Road’ Fame, as one who led a template for political leadership in Isoko for all other groups to copy. But as Madiba would say it is only wise that one should bow out to reflect on how far one has come after climbing many a hill.

Today, the most revered IAN has a new leadership for a two-year tenure after an election at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government on Saturday. It is led by taxation expert and chartered accountant, Chief Paul John Odhomor, referred to in many circles as ‘the black Pope of the world’.

Little wonder the election that saw him emerging as the most coveted Chairman of the IAN was a conclave. For like cardinals the members in a file, sauntered into the meeting, with solemn gaits depicting the sight of practicing Catholics after partaking in a holy communion.

Emerging from the conclave after a dispatch of the symbolic ‘white smoke’ (rather, random plates of pepper soups or Ukodo as known in local parlance and sweaty bottles of drinks in all assortments) which traditionally announces the emergence of a new Pope, the new chairman promised a new chapter of activism, purpose and accountability, stressing that the new executive would ensure that IAN remains relevant as a foremost socio political group in Delta and State and Nigeria in general.

Others elected include, Chief Dickson Ebegbare (Vice Chairman), Hon Oghale Ofremu (Secretary), Dr Aloy Okpelogbo (Assistant Secretary), Hon Sunday Elueni (Financial Secretary), Hon Harryman Okoro (Treasurer), Comrade Felix Ofou (Publicity Secretary), Hon Daniel Tutumor (Welfare), Prince Sunny Uthoro (Chief Whip) and Chief Goodluck Idele (Auditor).

Meanwhile, the following were appointed ex-officio members: Hon. Mike Ogwah, Prof. Sam Aghalino, Dr (Mrs) Evelyn Aluta, Chief Emmanuel Edevor, and Sir Patrick Ferife.

Reacting to the development, former Secretary to Delta State Government, Comrade Ovouzourie Macaulay congratulated the newly elected executive of the Isoko Advancement Network (IAN) with a call on them to continue to pursue causes relevant to the development of Isokos in Delta and Nigeria in general.

Macaulay, who is the Patron of the group, urged the new executive to be unrelenting in rallying Isoko people for the common good as well as speaking for the voiceless, including seeking justice for the oppressed.

“Do not forget the very reason for setting up the IAN. It is not for the celebration of birthdays and other parties. This group was formed to rally our people for the common good. You are to be the voice of the voiceless, strive for a more equitable society and ensure justice for the oppressed” he advised.

In particular, the former SSG urged IAN members not to relent in their support and pursuit of justice for the late Miss Elozino Ogege, a 300 Level student of Delta State University, Abraka, who was brutally murdered for alleged ritual purposes and for which five persons are on trial for complicity in the crime.

Macaulay, acknowledged that IAN has provided strategic support for the deceased family, including resetting them to a relatively safer location and legal services, but advised them not to give up until justice is achieved.

“I know we all have contributed a lot towards this cause. We have spent a lot to relocate the family to a safer place. So much was spent on getting the autopsy. We are also providing legal support. But I urge everyone not to be discouraged. We should sustain the tempo until achieved. The essence is to send a clear message that you cannot kill an Isoko son or daughter and get away with it’, he declared.

As encomiums continue to pour in, erudite scholar of History, Professor Samuel Ovuete Aghalino also congratulated High Chief Paul John Odhomor on his emergence as the new National Chairman of Isoko Advancement Network, IAN.

Professor Aghalino who is the immediate past Chairman, Governing Council of the College of Education, Warri asserted that, the emergence of Chief Odhomor the Okobaro of Ellu Kingdom clearly underscored his uncommon intellect, vision, vigour, and utter commitment to both IAN’s goals and Isoko agenda.

He described Odhomor as a dynamic man with rich reservoir of knowledge, experience and proven track record in politics and public service who has remained a resilient torchbearer of harmony even as he stated that Chief Odhomor is mentally acute, ideologically consistent and morally incorruptible to reorganize and strengthen IAN for social and political responsibility and relevance.

He expressed hope and optimism Odhomor’s vibrancy, astuteness, resourcefulness, sagacity, courage and, visionary leadership would be brought to bear in piloting the affairs of Isoko Advancement Network and the actualization of its aim and objectives, and the advancement of the Isoko cause.

Aghalino also commended him the group’s patron and former Secretary to the Delta State Government for his selfless, charismatic, and progressive leadership qualities and abiding support adding that Macaulay’s avowed commitment and open-mindedness have made it possible for the people of Isoko to see and rally round him as a leader.

In nutshell, it is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. The Odhomor led executive is not an exception. As the eulogies and felicitations may not cease to flow, so also will the expectations be. Nevertheless, the Pope now at the helm of affairs is a known gun surrounded by defined marksmen, hence the tendency of missing a shot will be almost impossible. Let us and watch and pray!

 

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SOUTH UPDATE

SAM OGRIH: Magistrate adjourns case against two Delta journalists over ‘unpreparedness’ of claimant

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…Fixes March, 2, For Full Trial

The Presiding Magistrate, magistrate court 5, Asaba, Delta state capital, B.N. Anumadu, on Monday adjourned to March, 2, 2020, the hearing of the defamatory charges brought against the Managing Editor of BIGPEN Online newspaper, Joe Ogbodu, and investigative journalist in Delta State, Prince Amour Udemude.

At the resume of the case, a lawyer who introduced himself as M.A. Omakor, told the trail magistrate, that he was watching brief for the claimant, Sam Ogrih, announcing that he has written to the state Attorney General and commissioner for justice for a ‘fiat’ to formally take over the matter from the state criminal investigation department, (CID), Delta state police command that is currently prosecuting the two Journalist’s.

According to Omakor, “The letter I wrote to the state Attorney General for a ‘fiat’ for me to formally take over the matter, has been responded to but the problem now is that the replied letter is not eligible, the words are not clear to read and as a result we have written another to the state Attorney General, but he has asked why should he issue me another letter when he has already issued me one.

“Your lordship, for this reason, I am applying for an adjournment, to enable me reach out to the state Attorney General concerning the ‘fiat’, and I want to take March, 2, 2020, to enable me do all I needed to do and when we come back there won’t be any reason for any excuse my lordship.”

In his submission, lead counsel to the two Journalists, C.F. Ebu, argued that it is very obvious that both the police and the claimant were not ready for the case and urged the trial Magistrate, to struck out the case.

“Your Lordship, it is very clear that they are not ready for the case. My clients were first arraigned in this court, October, 24, 2019, and this is January 2020 and nothing has been done my Lord. You will see that my learned friend is only playing gimmicks. They are not prepared to go with this case, my lord my application before this court is that the case be struck out my lord.”

At this point, the lead counsel to the two Journalists, sought leave of court for the claimant’s counsel to drop a copy of the response to his letter from the state Attorney General for the court to see whether actually a response letter from the state Attorney General that was probably typed on a computer cannot be visible to read.

But, this request, the claimant’s counsel turned down and appealed to the Magistrate to accept his proposed adjourned date with a promise to tidy up everything before the next adjournment date.

After listening to both counsels, the Presiding Magistrate, B.N. Anumadu, told the claimant’s counsel to his house in order, saying any further excuse from him on the next adjourned date will not be accepted by her court and therefore adjourned the case till March, 2, 2020.

Our correspondent reports that, since the two Journalists were first arraigned in October, 24, 2019, the police prosecutor, has failed to come to court for all the adjourned dates, an indication that the police may have lost interest to the case which may have also forced the claimant to hire the services of a lawyer to take over the case.

It was reliably gathered that, the police could not lay hands on any evidence to nail the two Journalists and as the police have maintained that he who claimed to have been defamed must prove his or her case beyond reasonable doubt because a case of defamation is not that easy to prove.

It would be recalled that, October, 24, 2019, the two Journalists were arraigned by the Delta state police command, following a petition by one Sam Ogrih, that he was defamed in a story alleging him funding and sponsoring some armed Uzere community youth with the codename “Freedom Fighters” who unleashed mayhem on the community over N20 million oil largesse gifted the community by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

According to the report, some community sources who fled the town at the wake of the mayhem caused by the armed community “freedom fighters”, had alleged that Ogrih, was the one funding and sponsoring the armed youth terrorising the area with guns, battle axe and cutlasses.

Ogrih had denied any involvement in the alleged funding and sponsoring of the armed youth unleashing mayhem in the community.

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SOUTH UPDATE

Okun Development Association disowns group

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Okun Development Association President

The national executive of Okun Development Association (ODA) has distanced itself from a group named Okun Development Association, South West Branch.

The National Executive of ODA, the umbrella body representing the Yoruba people of Kogi State, rose from its quarterly meeting of 18th January 2020 held in Isanlu, Yagba East LG, with some far reaching decisions.

In a communiqué released in Kogi State after the meeting, and signed by the National President, Barrister Femi Mokikan, the National Secretary, Pst Ayo Abereoran and the National Legal Adviser, Barrister Abimbola, the association stated that:

1) Legal, civil and criminal actions will be taken against anybody or group of persons parading themselves as representing the Association at National or Branch levels in any manner outside the provisions of the constitution of the Association.
2) No organisation or individuals shall henceforth undertake any event or function, for commercial or non commercial purposes, using the Okun name without the written approval of the National Executive Committee of ODA.
3) That the security situation in Okunland is still of serious concern. We commend the efforts of the State Government, other security agencies in the State, our Hunters and individuals who have collaborated with us in addressing the challenges we are often confronted with.
4) To further enhance the effectiveness of our efforts, we believe the time has come for us to set up our own Okun Security Trust Fund (OSTF). Towards this end, a committee is working on the details and other modalities and the outcome will be announced as soon as their report is approved.
5) We received with excitement the creation of the AMOTEKUN Security outfit at inter governmental level to address the security challenges of the SW States. This provides us in ODA an opportunity to explore the possibility of raising our security collaboration with the SW Yorubas to another level. We shall not relent.
6) As part of possible measures to reduce unemployment, we appeal to Okun Sons and Daughters with means and the entrepreneurial profile to come home and establish businesses with potentials to absorb people into paid employment.
7) The presence of a Community Radio is a powerful means of social and cultural reengineering in any community. The ODA will explore every opportunity/possibility, through appropriate individuals, to ensure that Okun Radio becomes a reality.
8) To further give teeth to the ODA, the Okun Council of Elders is to be reconstituted within the shortest possible time. We, on behalf of all Okun people thank our fathers and mothers who have served meritoriously on the Council
9) We appeal to our politicians to stop meddling with the affairs of the National Association of Okun Students so as to permanently put an end to the divisive tendencies that continue to plague the body. What we need is unity at all levels.
10) That the Miss Okun Pageant is a proprietary asset of the Okun people. Therefore the process of selecting the successful candidate to wear the Miss Okun Crown will henceforth be under the umbrella of ODA. This is without prejudice to any groups or individuals that may wish to initiate, organize and own their own beauty pageants, provided the word Okun is not reflected in the appellation of such pageant
11) Meanwhile, ODA has announced that election will be held into various offices of the Lagos branch of the association before the end of February 2020.
The Executive offices to be filled shall be contested by individuals from Ijumu Local Government, Yagba West Local Government, Mopa Amuro Local Government, Yagba East Local Government, Oworo/Lokoja Local Government and Kabba/Bunu Local Government.
12) Ijumu Local Government will produce the Chairman of the Branch, while the Vice-Chairman will be produced by Oworo in Lokoja Local Government, the office of the Secretary has been zoned to Yagba West, while the Financial Secretary will be produced by Mopa Amuro. The post of Public Relation Officer (PRO) and Treasurer will come from Yagba East and Kabba/Bunu Local Government respectively.

Speaking further on the Communique, the National President, Barrister Femi Mokikan, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently rebuild all the federal roads in Okunland that are in a deplorable condition. The association President said most Okun communities are now “landlocked”.

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SOUTH UPDATE

NDDC contractors fled with mobilisation fees, says lawmaker

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Three Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contractors absconded after collecting mobilisation fees in 2012, House of Representatives Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu said on Wednesday.

He urged the House to investigate Ninno Engineering Nigeria Limited, Petrogas Specialists Services Limited and Quintus Investment Company Nigeria Limited.

The lawmaker alleged that they abandoned the construction of Onicha-Uku/Idumuje and Onicha-Uku/Idumu-Ogo roads and Onicha-Uku civic centre after being mobilised.

The lawmaker said the NDDC awarded Ninno Engineering the construction of Onicha-Uku/Idumuye Unor link road.

The commission  gave Quintus Investment Company the Onicha-Uku/Idumu-Ogo link road project, and awarded Petrogas Specialist the Onicha-Uku civic centre construction in 2012.

The contracts, he said, were to be executed within three months.

Elumelu said none of the contracts has been executed, even as the land allocated for the civic centre has been overgrown with weeds.

According to him, the failure to complete the projects has hampered the region’s socio-economic activities and brought hardship on the indigenes.

He said efforts to bring the contractors back to work were unsuccessful, while fees paid to them have not been refunded.

Elumelu said the contractors’ excuse was that they were not given sufficient funds to execute the projects.

The House, therefore, directed its Committee on NDDC to summon the agency’s management and the contractors.

It is to find out the level of work done vis-a-vis the amount released so far.

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