THE Urhobo kinsmen of embattled former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, have called for due process in his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The trial began yesterday.
Security in the volatile Niger Delta region has been strengthened around major cities in Delta State, following reports that some armed groups could engineer violence to protest Ibori’s fate.
It was gathered that the uneasy peace in the state was threatened by protests from individuals and groups sympathetic to the beleaguered Ibori.
A top ófficial of the state government, Chief Sheriff Oborevworie, intervened in what could have turned a bloody protest by some of Ibori’s kinsmen at Edjeba, Delta State, following his arrest.
The Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Hope, immediately responded by deploying troops to Ekpan and other Urhobo communities of Warri and Effurun.
National Secretary of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Chief Victor Otomiewo yesterday cautioned Urhobo indigenes against jubilation over Ibori’s arrest by the EFCC in Abuja .
He said that if a number of prominent Nigerians, including Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who had earlier been accused by EFCC Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu could still rise to become the number two man in the country, Ibori also could rise again to prominence.
He said some other Nigerians, including a former President committed worse crimes and atrocities than Ibori, adding that if the kinsmen of the immediate past president’s had not rejected him, Urhobos should accommodate Ibori.
He reminded the Urhobo: “When a finger of your hand rubs into excreta, you do not cut it off; rather, you wash it and clean it. I want to advise my Urhobo people that if Ibori comes to his senses and pleads for forgiveness, we should forgive him and help him in his present travails.”
Otomiewo said although the former governor might not have performed to the expectations of his kinsmen in managing the resources of the state, he still remained the only hope of the Urhobo in the national political arena.
“Even though that I concede the fact that Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the past governor, did not do well in the governance of the state and management of the resources of the state and in handling the transition of his government to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, as far as the Urhobo are concerned, they will be very myopic if they jubilate over the current situation especially, the arrest of Ibori.
“In the type of politics that is prevalent in Nigeria, Ibori is the only Urhobo person who can fight the Urhobo cause when it comes to the murky waters of Nigeria’s politics of ethnic nationalities in Abuja.”
Otomiewo cautioned his kinsmen that they could turn to Ibori some day for support and direction, noting that former military dictators Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha were being revered by their kinsmen “in spite of the atrocities” they committed
– The Nation