Opone sues for peace as, protest rocks Delta communities over clanship

Opone sues for peace as, protest rocks Delta communities over clanship
Opone sues for peace as, protest rocks Delta communities over clanship

Opone sues for peace as, protest rocks Delta communities over clanship

From Steve Awanyai, Kwale

High Chief Johnson Opone has called on appropriate authorities to resolve the crisis that led to barricading of the Ogume junction of the Ughelli-Asaba expressway by protesters on Thursday morning over alleged plans by Delta State government to grant
clanship status to Beneku community.

Opone who spoke to newsmen in Kwale 
stated that Beneku, otherwise known as Obiogo remains
one of the seven constituent families
that constitute the Umusadege community.

Opone argued that the Beneku remained a farmland to some members of these constituent families and therefore cannot be given the status of a clan.He charged  the political class to live up to expectations in times of need of their constituents.
Apparently irked by the recent move by the Delta State House of Assembly to grant clanship status to Beneku community, indigenes of Umusadege-Ogbe community, Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Delta State, Thursday, barricaded the Ogume junction of the Ughelli-Asaba expressway.

Hundreds of youths protested the amendment of the schedule of the Traditional Rulers Council and Chiefs Law of Delta State, to insert in the principal law “Beneku”, under the column for clans in Ndokwa East local government area and include Eze-Ndem of Beneku kingdom under the column for traditional ruler by the Delta State House of Assembly.

However, it took the intervention of some community elders led by Chief Augustine Opia and High Chief Johnson Opone to ensure that the protest did not degenerate into uncontrollable violence.

The protesters, who stormed the busy Ughelli/Kwale/Asaba road at about 7am, blocked the road with bonfire as vehicles were trapped in a heavy traffic gridlock for several hours.

The protesters chanting songs of grievances, said the action of the State House of Assembly was in total disregard to a High Court order which restrained the Delta state government from granting the status of a clan to Beneku, which they said was part of Umusadege-Ogbe.

Mr. Azuka Odamike, an indigene of Umusadege-Ogbe, while addressing newsmen on the development, said, the move by the State House of Assembly was uncalled for and totally unacceptable by the people of the clan.

Condemning the move by the Delta State House of Assembly, he said it was wrong to cede Beneku to Ndokwa East Local Government Area, arguing that Beneku had been recognized judicially as part and parcel of Umusadege-Ogbe community in several cases.
While reacting, the legal counsel to Umusadege community, Obigbor Francis pointed out that the Delta State House of Assembly acted in error as there was an order of Interim Injunction restraining them from deliberately on the issue.

The court order which was sighted by our correspondent, which was issued on October 28, 2020, reads in part: "Having heard the Claimants/Applicants Counsel and thoroughly studied affidavit and written address. I have come to the conclusion that this application is apt.It is accordingly granted. The court  order as prayed.The interim order of this court made on 15th October, 2020 restraining the 1st to 6th Defendants from taking further steps with respect to recognizing or conferring status of clanship or installing a king etc."

Barr Obigbor alleged that despite its knowledge of the restraining orders of the Federal High Court, the Delta State House of Assembly went on to pass the bill which according to him can lead to breach of peace in the community if not rescinded.

On his part, High Chief Austin Opia posited that Beneku  is a part  and parcel of Umusadege- Ogbe community.He regretted that despite the court order restraining Delta State House of Assembly  from further attempt to confer status of clanship on Beneku, they went ahead to organize a public hearing on the issue and when a copy of the injunction was read to the chairman of the House committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs,Hon Felix Anirah, he adjourned the public hearing indefinitely.

"It is quite disheartening to see that the lawmakers defied the court order and latter went on to read the bill on the house for the third time

"There are indications that if this tension is not quickly doused that it could lead  to bloody conflict." he said

Addressing the youths, the Special Adviser to  Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Peace Building and Conflict Resolutions, Chief Edwin Uzor who led Delta State government delegation to Umusadege Community appealed to the aggrieved youths to suspend their protests while assuring them that the issue raised by them was already being addressed.