Tension heightened today at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps set up by the state government for flood victims at Isoko South local government area of Delta State following the arrest of the President General and chairman of troubled Uzere kingdom, Chief Emiakpo Owhe.
The arrests, which coincided with the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the flooded communities in the area, were condemned by majority of the flood victims, especially the Uzere people at the camps. They accused Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of being behind the arrest of the community leaders, saying the governor is acting out a script written by the dethroned king of the community.
It would be recalled that two weeks ago, the Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama, was in Uzere kingdom to address the people affected by the rampaging flood that swept across parts of the state. The aggrieved community took Utuama and his entourage hostage for several hours for visiting the dethroned monarch, Isaac Odogri.
Barely few days after that incident, the state government drafted to the community trucks loads of soldiers and anti-riot mobile policemen and started arresting people indiscriminately.
It was gathered that following the arrest of the leaders, fear gripped some of the Uzere flood victims, leading a large number of them to refuse to go to the camps set up by the state government whom they accuse of backing the estranged ruler.
They fear they could also be arrested or poisoned in the camps since the police in the state had declared many of them wanted over the crisis that had rocked the community.
The Uzere people in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State had earlier accused the state government as well as police of indiscriminate arrest and harassment of its indigenes including the most recent arrest of the 22 farmers and fishermen. Some primary and secondary school children were also arrested along with the adults and sent to Kwale prison.
The community, through their counsel, Chief Victor Otomewo, said that the deposed ovie (King), Isaac Udogri I, was the one using the police against the community.
Chief Otomewo, who yesterday briefed newsmen on behalf of the community, accused the state government of fueling the crisis in Uzere.
He blamed the predicament of the community on the apparent reluctance of the state government to release the White Paper on the judicial panel of inquiry into the bloody crisis.
Chief Otomewo, a former Attorney General of the state, said that the failure of the state government to make public the recommendations of the Rtd. Justice S.A. Ehiwario-led panel of inquiry is causing more harm than good to the community.
He said that the arrest of the 22 persons, including children, was to please the estranged King who wants to intimidate the community into succumbing to pressure to return him to the throne.
Crisis enveloped the oil producing community late last year when some youths were killed during a protest against SPDC. The traditional ruler of the Kingdom was deposed and another installed in his place.
But the state government gave the estranged monarch its support, and insists that he remains the only recognized ruler in the community.
Called from Sahara