– But over 5000 displaced people want to go back home
– They wonder why they remain refugees while their government helps those in the north
By Godwin Egba, Eleme
Ekporo community deserted over five years due to violent disputes with Ogu community, all in Rivers State, has turned to a haven for oil bunkering. After 5 years of communal crises, the fleeing community members including children are crying for chance to return to their land.
The desolate community which is an electoral Ward 5 in Eleme Area Council is now believed to be a haven for illegal oil bunkering by some suspected economic saboteurs operating from the surrounding neighboring communities.
Mr. Godspower Lale Lekwa, Ekporo Youth Council president and his Secretary-General, Mr. Benjamin Maah, in an exclusive interview in Eleme lamented that five years after the crises between their Ekporo and Ogu people who over powered them they have been living as strangers in different communities in the state without meaningful socio-economic life.
According to the two spokesmen, they had lost over 40 people for the past three to four years whose corpses are still in different mortuaries for lack of access to burial ground hence families of the deceased could not take the deceased to their ancestral land for fear of further attack by the Ogu people.
Lekwa and Maah lamented that several Ekporo leaders of thought, chiefs and even concerned non-Ekporo clergy men like Bishop Moses Kattey, General-Overseer of the CommonWealth Covenant Church, Eleme, had made concerted efforts to ensure that the people (Ekporos) regained their land but to no avail.
The two gentlemen noted that attention of both the Rivers State and Federal Government from the presidency, National and State Assembly; the Police Authority had been drawn to the plight and cry of the Ekporo people crying for justice to return home but their cry had never attracted a positive response from all the quarters concerned.
Beyond the quest of the people to go back to their land, Lekwa and Maah said the land had been turned into illegal bunkering business by operators who are allegedly in collaboration with some security operatives stationed on duty in the area, Stressing that the business from the shell oil facilities is being carried out with impunity.
Weeks ago, a group of Ekporo children embarked on a peaceful protest to the Rivers State Government house crying to Governor Nyesom Wike to return them to their land. They regretted untold hardship for five years living as strangers in other peoples land.
It was gathered that the Ekporos have produced some illustrious personalities like a one-time Federal minister of water Resource, Chief Precious Ngalale under Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo but their hope to be returned back to their land has continued to elude them even with all failed political promises made by their East Senatorial candidate like senator Magnus Abe to facilitate their demand if elected into office in the last election.
The Youth Council President and his Secretary-General disclosed the position of their people that if the state government fails to facilitate their return to their land from now till April 2018 they would embark on an action that would force them to face the consequences.
They wondered why the Ekporo Ward 5 in its local government area council would suffer injustice in the country that responds to the needs of displaced people because of man-induced crises like in the northern parts of the country (Boko-Haram) and victims of killings by some cattle herdsmen in the middle belt among others.