A WELCOME ADDRESS PRESENTED BY THE TRADITIONAL RULERS, CHIEFS, ELDERS AND PEOPLE OF EBUBU TO REVEREND RICHARD NEUBAUER AND OFALARU ELEME, USA ON THE OCCASION OF THEIR SYMPATHY VISIT AND PRESENTATION OF RELIEVE MATERIALS TO THE INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDP) OF EKPORO AT THE COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL FIELD EBUBU ON THURSDAY 30TH JANUARY, 2014.
On behalf of the Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, Elders and the entire people of Ebubu, we heartily welcome you all to Ebubu. This gathering courtesy Rev. Richard Neubauer and OFALARU ELEME, USA is to show great concern for the security and welfare of the people of Ekporo in particular and Eleme in general. We thank Reverend Richard Neubauer of the Assemblies of God Church, Arlington Church, Virginia, USA; Mr. Benjamin Osaro-Olai, President of OFALARU ELEME, USA; all the Executives and Members of OFALARU ELEME, USA and the entire Eleme people in Diaspora for the expression of love and demonstration of the fact that truly you are your brothers’ keepers. God bless you all.
As we gather here to present relieve materials to the internally displaced persons of Ekporo it is pertinent that we proffer possible solutions to increasing spate of violence in our communities and endeavour to resolve issues that cumulated to the sacking of Ekporo and displacing of the entire population.
It could be recalled that in 1983 Eleme was attacked by the Okrikas and over 100 people were killed including women and children. Again in 1993, Okrika people rose up with arms and exterminated Ekporo and other Eleme communities; old and young were massacred. After mowing the place down our properties were looted and houses set ablaze, Ekporo was totally annihilated. About 90 people mostly women and children were murdered and many wounded while properties worth millions of Naira were either looted or destroyed in that attack. On Monday 4th October, 1999 by 10.05a.m, Eleme was again attacked by aggressive Okrikans as their attempt to abruptly close the Port Harcourt Refinery Company gate in Alesa Eleme with a coffin was questioned by Eleme people. The same night, on 4th October, 1999 by 11pm the people of Ogu over-ran and sacked Ekporo town.
On September 11th 2013, Ekporo was invaded again. The councilor representing Ekporo Ward 5 in the Eleme Local Government Legislative Assembly Hon. Nelson Ogbuji was murdered in cool blood. Also killed in the recent attack were Edwin Sakanwi and Madam Mimi Okundonwi who was raped and slaughtered, while many others sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds, several women were raped, homes and churches were looted, burnt or pulled down by the invading Ogu people.
Our investigations have revealed that whenever Wakrike (Okrika/Ogu) sons and daughters are in position of authority at the State or Federal level, they will invade, sack and take over Eleme community. Why is this always so?
Recently, six Ogu youths were arrested by the Joint Task Force (JTF) operatives with seven AK47 riffles, 164 rounds of ammunition and six locally made canon launchers in connection with the invasion of Ekporo. Unfortunately, the media reports linking the suspects to Hon. Evans Bipi and Senator George Sekibo have not been taken seriously by both the Nigerian Government and security agencies. Rather, the people of Ogu and their cohorts are making frantic efforts to shift the blames and possession of these arms. Nigeria is our collective country, we suppose? The Government of Nigeria is of the people, by the people and for the people, we believe? As major host to internally displaced persons of Ekporo, we make bold to ask, will the people of Ekporo celebrate one hundred years of Nigeria’s nationhood in exile? What is our government doing for Ekporo people to return home?
Ladies and gentlemen with this brief historical facts and current happenstance, it is clear that only the international community can save Eleme from extinction by checking these our neighbours’ penchant for territorial expansion and ensuring that the Federal Government of Nigeria demarcates the boundary between Okrika/Ogu and Eleme.
This done an unbroken programme of empowerment is solicited for the people of Ekporo to cushion the effects of continual displacement.
It is disheartening to note that today Ekporo is a ghost town courtesy Ogu warriors and their warlords. The people of Ekporo are today refuges in Eteo, Gbam, Norwa, Baraobara, Ogale, Alode, Agbonchia, Akpajo, Alesa, Onne, Aleto and Ebubu. Family lives have been disrupted, infrastructure in Ekporo have totally broken down, no school is in session in Ekporo, the social and economic live of the people have been paralyzed, there is no protection for a population of over 5,000 people of Ekporo, including children, women and the elderly; no access to justice; the people’s rights are daily trampled under foot and no solution seems to be in sight. My brothers and sisters, today, Nigeria is preparing for general elections; the Rivers State Government is also getting ready for local government elections; will Ekporo people participate in these elections processes from exile? If so, why? If not, how? The plan to extinct Ekporo is premeditated and is being systematically executed. Eleme is standing between the devil and the deep-blue sea. The environments that have been highly polluted by multinational and national oil companies are at war with us, killing us slowly by the day. Our Okrika and Ogu neighbours are killing us intermittently with guns. We are in trouble. We need special protection. That is why the international community must come to our aid before we are all killed and our God given land taken over.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to ease the pains of a people. We are here to share in the suffering of a people. We are here to give relieve materials to internally displaced persons of Ekporo. We are here to open a new chapter in the historical life of the people of Ekporo; to wipe out their tears; to sympathize with them; to encourage them and to give them hope and motivate them to look unto God for a better Nigeria where the rule of law will prevail and people will live in peace with their neighbours. We must move beyond the jamboree to save Eleme, an ethnic nationality at the verge of extinction arising from aggressive neighbours and exploitative multinationals backed by corrupt and oppressive government. This occasion should provide a springboard for us to act as a united people; as a uniting factor to wake us from our slumber as the international community become interested in our plight and extend a helping hand.
The choice of Ebubu for the rebirth of brotherly love in Eleme is not a mistake. Ebubu has always been the galvanizing ancient city of Eleme. When it is difficult and the people of Eleme converge on Ebubu, solutions are always in sight. We are at the right place. You are welcome to Ebubu! Eleme mma wii owee!!!
Chief Osaro Ollorwi HRH Chief Emmanuel O. Bebe
One Eh Aluebo/ Secretary Ebubu One Eh Ebubu xiii
Council of Traditional Rulers,
Chiefs & Elders
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