- Only court can determine his fate – Uvwie monarch
For the people of Ekpan in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, the day had begun on Saturday last week like every other one with the residents getting set to go about their daily business.
But suddenly, the youths in the community ordered all business owners to close shop and join them in protesting alleged incessant killings in the area.
They insisted that all hands must be on deck as they vowed to put an end to the crisis that had bedeviled their community in the past 12 years.
The youths, comprising women and children, then staged a peaceful protest through the streets of the troubled Ekpan community in Uvwie, calling for the removal of Chief Newton Agbofodoh, the Unuevworo of Ekpan Kingdom.
They alleged that Agbofodoh had been the cause of the incessant crisis that had rocked the community since 2004.
A group of the Ekpan people, who staged a peaceful protest through the streets of the community to the palace of their monarch, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, Emmanuel Sideso, claimed they had to embark on the action because they were fed up with the series of killings in the community.
At the palace of the king, the protesters sang and chanted: “Newton must go!” while waiting for the monarch to address them. The organisers of the peaceful protest, the Ekpan Integrity Group, led by Innocent Akpototedja- Adjenughure and Hon. Urumedji Kingsley, president and secretary, respectively, told the monarch that one Chief Agbofodoh, their community head, had been the cause of the perennial crisis in the community.
They appealed to the monarch to withdraw the chieftaincy title given to Chief Agbofodoh over what they termed, “his dictatorial and tyrannical leadership”.
The protesters alleged that Agbofodoh’s style of leadership had plunged the community in the crisis it had yet to recover from, after for so many years.
The group also accused the community head of unilaterally recommending his cronies for contracts and employment without transparency and due process.
The group’s leaders said, “Chief Agbofodoh also amended the Ekpan Development Committee Constitution, without following due procedure as stated in the constitution and with the unilaterally amended constitution, he handpicked the present committee, claiming, ‘I am the Unuevworo and if anyone is not satisfied with my action, they should wait until they are enthroned as Unuevworo.’ We are therefore demanding the removal of Chief Newton Agbofodoh as the Unuevworo of Ekpan.”
Various speakers during the protest at the palace of the monarch also called for the removal of Chief Agbofodoh as the traditional head of the Ekpan Community, claiming that since his arrest for alleged murder three weeks ago, the community had been enjoying relative peace.
One of the speakers, who claimed he was speaking on behalf of one of the nine quarters making up the community, Mr. Williams Akpolo, stressed that peace had eluded the community since Chief Agbofodoh was made its traditional leader.
He alleged that since Agbofodoh’s ascension, assassination and murder had become common occurrences in the community.
Others, who spoke on behalf of the other quarters, also made similar demand for the withdrawal of the chieftaincy title given to Chief Agbofodoh.
They claimed that his removal from office was the only measure for ensuring lasting peace in Ekpan community.
In his response, the monarch of Uvwie Kingdom, Abe 1, commended the people for their peaceful conduct during the protest and appealed for calm and understanding.
The monarch, however, assured the people that he would do everything necessary to ensure the return of peace to the kingdom, imploring them to remain law-abiding.
On their request for the immediate withdrawal of the chieftaincy conferred on Agbofodoh, the monarch reminded the people that although their community leader had been arrested for alleged murder, he remained innocent until proved guilty by a competent court.
He, therefore, assured them that if Agbofodoh was eventually convicted by the court, he would not hesitate to strip him off the chieftaincy title, as requested by the people.
The monarch reminded the people that he and his chiefs had been working hard to bring peace to the community, adding that he was already taking steps to bring the two factions involved in the crisis in the community together.
But reacting to the development, a close ally of the community leader, who pleaded anonymity, said that those calling for the sacking of the chief did not have the authority of the community leadership to do that.
According to him, the protest and demand for Agbofodoh’s removal was championed by a factional leadership in the community interested in taking over the chieftaincy office.
He accused the protesters of capitalising on the arrest of Agbofodoh by the police for alleged murder, to demand his removal from the office.
He said, “That meeting was not summoned with the authority of the community head. It was summoned by a factional leadership in the community. Chief (Barrister) Victor Otomiewo, who is now the acting Unuovworo of the community, did not summon any meeting like that.
“When they protested to the palace of the Ovie, he told them that it was only when the court has pronounced Chief Agbofodoh guilty or when he dies, that he would cease to be the Unuevworo of the community.”