TASK BEFORE NPDC IN OGONI

THE TASK BEFORE NPDC IN OGONI

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has blood on its hands. SPDC has spilled blood all over Ogoniland through its activities and actions. The company has also caused massive environmental destruction in the Ogniland where over 60 million gallons of oil is said to have been spilled onto farmlands and community water supplies. The destroyed land and water formerly provided sustenance for the indigenous people of Ogoni.

SPDC crimes in Ogoniland also include its roles in providing financial assistance, logistics support, guns and moral support to the Nigerian military dictatorship for the execution of the Ogoni 9 environmental activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa when they demanded that SPDC cleanup spilled oil in Ogoniland and share the profits more equitable with oil bearing communities.

This campaign of terror embarked upon by Shell which led to the murder of nearly 2,000 Ogoni people with some tortured to death is well known among the Ogonis and will remain indelible in the minds of the Ogonis for several generations to come.

For decades, the people of Ogoni have complained about the usurpation of their land and resources, the destruction of their culture, and the eventual decimation of the people. It is on record that since 1958, $30 billion worth of oil has been taken from beneath the land of the Ogoni, yet essentially zero benefits have accrued to the Ogoni people themselves, reported World Council of Churches. When the group sent observers to Ogoniland in 1995, they found no piped water supplies, no good roads, no electricity, and no proper health care facilities.

Shell, a Dutch Company is the 10th largest corporation in the world and the first in profitability. The company has 96 oil production wells in Ogoniland, 5 flow stations and numerous gas flares which have operated continuously since 1958. By the end of 1992, Ogoni oil production was some 28,000 barrels per day, about 3% of SPDC’s total oil production. Shell also maintains many high-pressure oil pipelines that crisscross Ogoniland, carrying oil from other parts of Nigeria to the shipping terminal at Bonny.

As a result of growing pressure for reform in Ogoniland in 1993, SPDC ceased oil production in the area, but retained its network of pipelines carrying oil produced elsewhere in Nigeria. Although the World Council of Churches finds evidence that SPDC has not ceased oil production in Ogoniland, the company insists its production wells are idle.

Whether SPDC oil wells in Ogoniland are producing oil or not, between 1976 and 1980, Shell operations caused 784 separate oil spills in Nigeria. From 1982 to 1992 additional spills were recorded. Since SPDC “ceased oil production” in Ogoniland in 1993, Shell admits further 24 oil spills have occurred in the area.

Apart from the World Council of Churches’ findings which linked SPDC to continued oil drilling in Ogoniland, in one of the documents I stumbled on in my study during the course of gathering facts for this article captioned, “COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE MOSOP GLOBAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN ACCRA, GHANA, MARCH 28 – 30, 2002 and singed by Meshach Karanwi, General Secretary – MOSOP International, accused Shell of adopting “nascent lateral oil drilling techniques to drill oil from Ogoniland from remote locations”. The same document stated in Article 10 “That MOSOP reasserts its stand on Shell as persona non-grata in Ogoni”.

The Ogoni people see SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria as partners in crime against oil bearing communities and the people of Ogoni. Their conspiracy to destroy Ogoni communities and kill the people has not abated, only opportunities are yet to present themselves.

It is true that the spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders and that of other Ogoni martyrs will continually hunt the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) or any other company that comes to Ogoniland for oil production through SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria. Besides, it is impossible for NPDC to severe relationship with SPDC and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The fears of the people concerning NPDC are numerous.

  1. If SPDC, a Dutch company that operates in 100 countries has 40% of its oil spills in Nigeria, what will happen when NPDC, a company owned and managed by the Federal Government of Nigeria with its poor managerial cultures and oppressive tendencies fully become operational in Ogoniland?
  2. It is on record that Shell only provided the needed finance, logistics, guns and moral support yet nearly 2,000 Ogonis and their leaders were murdered. What will be the fate of the entire Ogonis when NPDC, an Hausa/Fulani owned company fully becomes operational in Ogoniland?
  3. There is wide spread fears among the Ogonis that the so-called NPDC is SPDC in disguise. They are watching perhaps to unveil the actual group behind the new masquerade in town.
  4. In the ongoing consultation and sensitization by NPDC the Ogonis are already seeing SPDC dance steps and are watching carefully. The words of Dr. Owens Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother now forms topic of discussion across Ogoniland. Hear him, “Our people are dying in the hands of our government and Shell”. Will NPDC not mobilize Nigeria soldiers to kill the remaining Ogoni people when they eventually dare to ask for their rights to share in oil profits?                                          NPDC activities in Ogoniland are already pitching communities against each other. Groups are already at loggerheads with each other. Interests are now colliding daily. In Eleme, war is breeding between SPDC GMOU Cluster Development Board based in Ebubu and “Council of Traditional Rulers of Oil Bearing Communities”, a private company (Trustee?) based in Ogale on who is the rightful representative. The community leaders on the other hand are also agitating for recognition and direct participation in the oil money. Towards this end, groups are already petitioning NPDC Management disclaiming and dissociating from other groups and their activities. The story is the same in Korokoro, Bunu-Botem, Yorla, K-Dere and other Ogoni communities. Only God will save Ogoniland from the hands of the Nigerian government and Shell Oil.
  5. For the Ogonis, Shell and its activities have brought poverty, environmental devastation, and widespread severe human rights abuses. The Nigeria government who is primarily responsible for environmental tragedy in Ogoniland cannot be a good business partner when it comes to oil production in Ogoniland. The Ogonis are convinced that irrespective of the damning UNEP Ogoniland report that it would take 30 years to cleanup Ogoniland, the federal government is only concern with commencing oil production in Ogoniland. And is bent on forcing the Ogonis to allow for oil production or be hanged to death. This fear is further reinforced by the fact that the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company is a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the most senior partner in the petroleum industry in Nigeria and it is owned 100% by the federal government of Nigeria.
  6.  Ogonis fear that their interests will not be guaranteed and protected. NPDC have concluded negotiation with SPDC to take over its facilities in Ogoniland without resorting to the Ogonis the rightful owners of the oil. The question here is, without oil can NPDC buy SPDC facilities in Ogoniland? NO. And if the answer is no, why was the Ogonis not involved in the negotiation from the beginning bearing in mind that oil drilling has caused devastating impacts on Ogoni environment? That the effects of oil spills, gas flaring and deforestation have stripped Ogoniland of its environmental resources, destroying the subsistence farming and fishing based economy of the Ogonis is enough to allow the Ogonis to negotiate who to do oil business with in its own terms. The Ogonis, as usual, will resist any attempt by the government to impose any firm of condition or force any marriage of inconvenience on the Ogonis. To the Ogonis, any company seeking to carry out oil production in Ogoniland must directly negotiate with the Ogonis and such company must comply fully with environmental best international practices, including UNEP and UNCTAD basic standards.                    Again, the way and manner the Ogoni 9 were framed up, convicted and executed by hanging on November10, 1995 and the treatment melted out to the family members of Ken-Saro Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Saturday Doobee, Daniel Gbokoo and Felix Nuate is enough to make the Ogonis yet unborn wary of the federal government of Nigeria and her oil companies.
  7. The fears of the Ogoni people is also compounded by the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Program (HYPREP), a federal government body responsible for the implementation of the UNEP report for the cleanup of Ogoniland which has been moribund due to government insincerity towards the Ogoni cleanup. The sudden reawakening of HYPREP and the way it is going about its “sensitization” is both suspicious and worrisome.
  8.  The Ogoni people still hold the Federal Government of Nigeria and SPDC responsible for the militarization and criminalization of Ogoniland. The World Council of Churches report corroborated this perception. According to the World Council of Churches, “There are more guns and ammunition in the public domain and hunger is pushing more people into crime. It is not surprising that there is no security of persons and property. The crime rate has skyrocketed”. Perhaps, the Federal Government of Nigeria has forgotten the last words of Ken Saro-Wiwa, “Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues”. Some ethnic nationalities in Nigeria can mortgage their conscience or betray their leader for the sake of fear or for fame, cheap popularity, money, but not the Ogoni people.

And true to the nature of the Nigerian government and its agencies, HYPREP came into Ogoniland with a fixed mindset and preconceived project for the Ogonis not seeking the people’s input or bothering about their needs. Analysis of the discussions between the visiting HYPREP officials and natives in all the Ogoni communities revealed masters and servants’ relationship and not partners in business. It is “Take water or leave it”. “Only contractors with high technology will be allowed into Ogoni to demonstrate and test their new technology before engagement”. “Only youths with at least a Master Degree in Environmental Management will be trained and engaged for the cleanup”. These were some of the HYPREP edicts to the oil bearing communities.

That is, in the characteristics of all federal government agencies the promises are so vague that leaves more to be desired. HYPREP Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, said that HYPREP will provide clean drinking water to impacted communities; update baseline data of UNEP report; conduct health impact assessment study; demonstrate remediation technology; construct an Integrated Containment Soil Management Centre and Centre of Excellence all in New Bori City and training. The Ogoni people have heard all these over and over again.

The Ogoni people are aware that the UNEP Report upon which the cleanup is hinged recommends some emergency measures to be taken to intervene in the lives of the Ogoni people before the cleanup. The provision of potable water is welcomed, since their sources of water are contaminated by oil spill, but shouldn’t be the only intervention programme. Apart from water sources the economy mainstay of the people has been destroyed and their sources of livelihood ruined by oil production activities.

The deprivation clauses in HYPREP arrangements are also worrisome. The training, perhaps, is conceived for only those with “Master Degree in Environmental Management”, while the empowerment programme is expected to be preserve for the “poor of poor widows”. Education, health, roads, electricity and other infrastructures which are equally on the people’s priority list and which has continue to keep the people at disadvantage position and hold them down beyond poverty level are to wait.

Between HYPREP and NPDC who is now forerunner to who? That is, is HYPREP forerunner to NPDC or vice versa? Can the Federal Government of Nigeria answer this question since both bodies are government agencies on an errand of maneuvering for the federal government to commence oil production in Ogoniland with its soldiers on standby to invade Ogoniland in case of any resistance?

The timing for the NPDC consultation and HYPREP sensitization in Ogoniland speaks volume and leaves the people wondering the rationale behind the rush.

The Ogoni people as oil producing area expect greater stake in the control and management of oil business in its territory. They anticipate equity in the allocation of revenue so that oil revenue can be used for the development of their environment.

They also believe that they own the resources above, beneath, and within their territory and therefore reason that all laws that impinge on their independence and natural rights to property or resources that is found in their territory, such as the Petroleum Act, Mineral Acts, Oil Pipelines Act, the Land Use Act and other laws instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria be abrogated. While Section 315 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which entrenches the Land Use Act and Section 215 (1) of the same Constitution which gives Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction to determine cases involving mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas be expunged from the Constitution.

The tasks before the NPDC in Ogoniland therefore are enormous. Can NPDC convince the Ogonis that it can deliver on its own expectations? What are these expectations? How will it go about them? The Ogonis will want to know.

To do this the company must come closer to the people, sit with the people and discuss with the people publicly and not the present arrangements of talking to selected few (who are bent on hijacking or cornering the people’s benefits) in hotels and in their private houses.

 

The Ogoni people are well-educated, including in things of oil and are very much aware of SPDC and Nigeria Government divide and rule tactics and are ready to play along with NPDC. But, will NOT allow the NPDC to embark on oil production activities in Ogoniland when the time comes, except the company approach them openly, genuinely agree business terms with the Ogonis, and enter into a well-defined and valid memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ogonis where their interests will be defined, guaranteed and protected based on international standards. To marshal the people’s trust, gain their support and cooperation NPDC must express real sincerity of purpose in Ogoniland.

Conclusion

  1. The Federal Government of Nigeria must as a matter of importance involve the Ogoni people in its resolve to providing necessary infrastructures and conducive environment for oil production activities in Ogoniland.
  2. The Federal Government of Nigeria must put a structure in place to provide for the licensing of Oil Bearing Communities to participate in the business of oil production.
  3. The government must demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt its commitment to cleanup all oil spills in Ogoniland and allow independent international body of experts to periodically assess cleanup activities.
  4. The federal government must cease its attempts to disguisedly force the Ogonis to sign statements which invite Shell or any other company to come to Ogoniland for oil production activities.

References

  1. Hutchful E. (1985) “Oil Companies and Environmental Pollution in Nigeria”, London, Longman Press
  2. Saro-Wiwa, Ken (1994) As quoted from Rowell, Andrew (1994), Shell-shocked, the environmental and social costs of living with Shell in Nigeria, Amsterdam: Greenpeace International.
  3. SPDC (1995) Nigeria brief: The Environment.
  4. The London Observer, January, 28, 1996, “Shell Admits Importing Guns for Nigeria Police”.
  5. Claude Ake (ed) Political Economy of Nigeria, London, Longman Press.
  6. World Council of Churches (1996), Ogoni The Struggle Continues, Geneva, Switzerland.
  7. “Communiqué Issued At The MOSOP Global Leadership Conference In Accra, Ghana, March 28 – 30, 2002.
  8. http://www.greenpeace.org
  9. http://www.shellnigeria.com
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THE PEOPLE OF EBUBU IN HISTORY

THE PEOPLE OF EBUBU IN HISTORY

AN  INVITED PAPER PRESENTED BY HIGH CHIEF OSARO OLLORWI ON THE OCCASION OF CULTURAL FIESTA AT LEADERS’ FOUNDATION SCHOOLS, EBUBU ON THURSDAY (MMA) 8TH DECEMBER, 2016

The idea of setting one day aside for the recognition and appreciation of cultural diversity is a noble one and a contribution to understanding and co-existence. These days when the wave of division is blowing people off their feet, this innovation will definitely provide the needed opportunity for students from different tribes and homes to live together and appreciate the extent of cultural diversity and the need to live and let others live.

In treating the topic, The People of Ebubu in History, I shall be focusing on the origin of the people, their identity, traditional administration, education and culture

Founding of Ebubu

In many ways, Ebubu is perhaps the most ancient and interesting of the kingdoms that emerged in Eleme. For one thing, not only was it the earliest, or at least among the earliest to emerge, but at the peak of its power, it was the largest in area, population and culturally the most advanced.

Though we are not certain of the date for the founding of Ebubu, it appears that it began to emerge in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, somewhere between 1389 and 1430.

Legend has it that the people of Ebubu descended from the Cross Rivers region during the latter part of the fourteenth century. The immigrant who founded Ebubu was named Ibubu. He migrated with a band of farmers and hunters from their main habitat which is the Cross Rivers region in Eastern Nigeria through Ibibio and Ndoki territories to where they could get fertile land and settle; hence they fought their way through whenever they met with obstacles of any form until they came to this place, which was named after their leader – Ibubu.

These set of emigrants developed and multiplied as their journey progressed, and spread to where sections of them founded the kingdoms of Ebubu and Nchia.  It was from Ebubu that the various families began to move out to establish kingdoms of Onne, Eteo and Ekporo. Others went further and founded Abua, Odual, Andoni, Ogoni, Abuloma and a few other places.

That Ebubu was the original home of the founders of present day Eleme is borne out not only by the traditional accounts of all the Eleme kingdoms, but also by the fact that most of the Elemes to this day regard Ebubu as their holy city and the revered cradle of their civilization.

The hero who founded the present day Eleme was known as Ibubu pronounced Ebubu. He came into the territory generically called “Eleme” today through a track that latter came to be referred to as “Ogbere Mgbor” or “Agborgbor Mgbor” and settled.

Ebubu was originally the gateway into Eleme. Captain James Fosbery and his entourage came into Eleme on April 19, 1898 through this track-road and entered into Treaty with the King and Chiefs of Ebubu on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland Empress of India.

At the peak of its power, the frontiers of Ebubu extended as far as Mmu-miri (Imo River) in the northern axis, Okoroma in Ogoni in the eastern border, Mmu Ngololo in the southern border and Elelenwo in Evo Kingdom in the western border. King Nsole Ebulu and King Etoo Ekeada were the last of Ebubu Kings who presided over the vast Ebubu Empire. When Eleme Urban Council was created by the Rivers State Government in 1980 Ebubu was made the headquarters.

The Rivers State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Honourable Barrister Isaac Kamalu,   is also of the opinion that “Ebubu is the star of Eleme”. According to Kamalo, “Ebubu is the ancient city of Eleme. From inception, Ebubu has continued to provide home, shelter and refuge to all Eleme. It is the home of comfort to all the people of Eleme”.

Ebubu was never conquered by the British. Rather, Ebubu negotiated with the colonial powers on its own terms and conditions. When, the white man came to Ebubu, he met a developed city state under a powerful leader known as King Etoo Ekeada and excellent administrative machinery he couldn’t alter. No doubt, Ebubu remains the light and hope of Eleme. When it is hard for Eleme, Ebubu provides the lead, the solution and the victory.

Traditional Leadership

Ebubu traditional leadership is best described as a loose confederation with little or no central control as each confederating unit maintains its political, economic, social and military autonomy. This loose arrangement accounts for the collapse of the entire system at the slightest provocation. Ebubu had no political, ethnic or cultural unity. The Kingdom was made up of people who arrives the kingdom at different times, with diverse backgrounds, perceptions and expectations; and the Kings of Ebubu failed to weld them into a true united entity. Different peoples such as Egbalor, Ejamah, Agbeta, and Obolo each with its own distinctive culture, god, and needs owed allegiance to the Oneh Eh Ebubu but are left under their own traditional rulers and were only expected to contribute contingents or levies to the Oneh Eh Ebubu’s army in times of war. These clans, Egbalor, Ejamah, Agbeta and Obolo are further divided into thirty-two (32) communities and their people maintained their autonomy in all spheres. This situation do not only weakened and frustrated the central authority but give excessive powers to the federating units who dictate what happens in the Kingdom. The traditional leadership of Odido resides in Ebubu.

According to Chief O. O. Ngofa, Egbalor was the first community to emerge in Ebubu. In his words, “The Egbalor village is by local protocol the first community in Ebubu. It was both the seat of traditional, political and economic powers of Ebubu. Egbere Solote, the eldest son of Ebubu inherited Egbalor from his late father as his own settlement and pursued his father expansionist stance by extending the borderlines of Egbalor to Mmu-miri (Imo River) and Koroma in Ogoni. His direct descendants are known as Eseiji family in Egbalor.

He also observed that Ejamah was established by emigrate named Osaro Ewa of Egbara and was later joined by Olumaa Abasi from Ejialejor. Agbeta, he pointed out was created by Ollor Egbere Eseeji, another warrior-son of Egbere Solote. Obolo, he posited was created by Olungwe Ejiala and Kote Mbiewa both from Egbalor.

Table Showing Traditional Rulers of Ebubu 1812 – 2016

S/NO NAME TENURE VILLAGE OF ORIGIN
1. King Osaro Ekaa 1812 – 1846 Egbalor
2. King Nsole Ebulu 1846 – 1872 Egbalor
3. King Etoo Ekeada 1872 – 1907 Agbeta
4. King Osarollor Ochii 1907 – 1931 Agbeta
5. King Olungwe Ekiye 1931 – 1935 Egbalor
6. King Amakiri Olaka 1935 – 1966 Agbeta
7. King Goya Chinwi 1966 – 1967 Egbalor
8. King Godfrey O. Nnah 1967 – 1969 Ejamah
9. King Nelson O. Chinwi 1969 – 1986 Egbalor
10. King Friday K. O. Nwafor 1986 – 1991 Ejamah
11. King Nelson O. Chinwi 1991 – 2002 Egbalor
12. King Emmanuel O. Bebe 2003 – ? Agbeta

Education

Christianity was the forerunner of western education in all communities of the Niger Delta region, including Ebubu. Christianity came into Ebubu in 1913. A year later, with the help of John Kalio, James Awala Obe, Isaiah Eppie and few others a Church was opened in a hall in Egbalor. By 1916, a mud-Thatched Church was built through communal labour where Ebubu converts worshipped God. In 1919, St. Bartholomew (NDP) Church was established at its present location under the leadership of U. A. J. Koko. Since then, Christianity has continued to expand and spread in Ebubu. The introduction of Christianity into Ebubu in 1913 gave rise to the establishment of the first primary school in Ebubu in 1946.  The first secondary school was established in Ebubu in 1998.

 

Language

The language spoken in Ebubu is known as Eleme Language. It retains the vocabulary inherited from Ibibio which was its parent language. Eleme is not a dialect but a language with identifiable characteristics in Nchia (Mbolli) and Odido (Ebubu) dialects. Though this gap is closing rapidly because of greater communication and refinement, those who are very conversant know the difference. Its distinctiveness is borne of the fact that the language is not spoken by any of her neighbours.

The use of Eleme as a spoken language in indigenous homes is declining very fast. This is compounded by the rate of urbanization which has brought a high percentage of strangers from diverse language areas into regular communication; and English Language has become the common way of expression.

Religion

The traditional religion in Ebubu is ancestral worship and this has its value system in promoting good ethics and community life. But since the year 1913 when Ebubu embraced Christianity many changes have occurred that have eroded the traditional religion. This is to be expected because of increased level of communication and socialization. There is at present, sufficient latitude for operation of the primary religions of Christianity, Islam, etc. in Ebubu.

Ebubu Ethnic Nationality

When the British Colonial Government represented by Captain James Fosbery entered Eleme territory on April 19, 1898, he camped at Ebubu. Captain Fosbery and his entourage met two distinct ethnic groups in Eleme. These are Ebubu and Mbolli. They entered into separate Treaties with the Colonial Administration on the 19th and 20th of April, 1898. Let it be pointed out here that Nchia and Odido are synonymous with Mbolli and Ebubu. Mbolli is also synonymous with Eleme. “It follows therefore that what is today known as Eleme encompassed the Nchia towns”.

The 20th April, 1898 Treaty spelt out the component parts of Mbolli as Allissa (now Alesa), Agbonsi (now Agbonchia), Orgali (now Ogale), Alodi (now Alode), and Alito (now Aleto).  On the other hand, the Treaty with Ebubu entered into on 19th April, 1898, shows a homogeneous and coherent ethnic unit. Ebubu occupies an enviable position in Odido which can be compared to that of Rumigbo in Apara Clan of Rebisi or Ogale in Mbolli now Nchia or Eleme.

Mbolli, Nchia or Eleme and Ebubu are two separate entities unified loosely by similarity in dialects. Similarities in dialects are also found between Ebubu, Nchia, Gokhana and Ibibio. The name ELEME is an administrative grouping.

The important officials of the Kingdom were the following:

  1. Oneh Eh Eta was the title of the King.
  2. Oneh Nkiken was the Traditional Prime Minister, the direct descendant of the Founder of Ebubu and conscience of the community. He took charge of traditional functions; and in the absence of the King, performs administrative duties.
  3. Oneh Nkporon was the Spokesman and Mouth-piece of the Kingdom.

These officials perform traditional, socio-political and other functions through a powerful community based organization (CBO) known as Oku Nkpͻrͻ or Ogbo Nkpͻrͻ.

Contribution to National Economy

Oil exploration started in Ebubu in 1956. Ebubu is host to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and currently has fifty-two (52) oil wells, two (2) oil fields, one (1) flow station and one (1) booster station. Ebubu is also host to Daewoo Nigeria Limited, a Koran Company and several other oil and gas services companies spread across the area. The famous Rivers State School-To-Land and Panyan Returnees Camp are all located in Ebubu. Ebubu is also host to both Nigeria Custom Service Barracks and Nigeria Police Force Barracks

Culture

In discussing CULTURE I will endeavor to look at Eleme in its totality. This is because the name Eleme is today loosely adopted to encompass all the territories called Eleme. It is on this premises that Eleme and Ebubu (rightly or wrongly) is described as “one of the twenty major ethnic groups in Eastern Nigeria with its language, culture, and social order quite different and distinguished from those of their immediate neighbours”. The primary aim of today’s event– the Leaders Foundation School’s Cultural Fiesta, according to the organizer is, “To showcase our different cultures thereby promoting the Africa Culture”.

What is culture? Culture in its simplest form  is “a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions, which are used to make sense of experience and generate behavior and are reflected in that behavior”.

 

Guy Feuer, Emeritus Professor at Paris V-René Descartes observed that “Culture is a fundamental element of collective identities and of the often indelible imprint which they leave on individual identities”

 

The UNESCO in its “Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity” of 2 November, 2001 and the “Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” of 20 October, 2005 linked cultural diversity and human rights in many ways including the protection and promotion of cultural diversity involving ensuring of freedom of expression, information, and communication; as well as the right for individuals to choose their modes of cultural expression (Convention Article 2, & 1). Article 7 of the Declaration considers cultural heritage as a source of creativity, while Article 9 demands that cultural policies should play a determining role in this creativity.

Declaration, Article 11 also reaffirms the importance of the link between culture and development by providing that the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity are the hallmark of sustainable human development.

Therefore, the protection and promotion of cultural diversity must form part of the policies of all Schools in Nigeria from Nursery to Tertiary. It is on this ground that we all should thank the management of Leaders’ Foundation School for promoting cultural diversity; and by extension stimulating peace, unity, freedom, creativity and above all, sustainable human development. Culture is an indispensable tool for formation, communication, protection, promotion, and regulation of Behaviours.

The behavior of Eleme indigenes groomed within the locality is regulated by the belief in the continued presence of the ancestors of each family as well as existence of deities endowed with supernatural powers. The average Eleme person will readily made confession when interrogated on issues for which he/she had knowledge or participation to avoid society’s rejection if the matter goes to the level of swearing before a deity or in its name.

Components of Culture

For our purpose, let us define components of culture as those agents or means of shared and socially transmitted ideas, values and perceptions that bind a defined set of people, which are the matrix in which future developments are anchored and depending on the relative level of attachment, a person grows to become a product of the regulatory forces of his native culture. They are those things that differentiate and distinguished one set of people from another. That is how the Ogoni differ from Eleme, Hausa from Ibo, Yoruba from Fulani, etc.  These component factors include Occupation, Food, Pattern of Dressing, Folktales and Stories, Arts and Crafts, Music, Dance, Musical Instruments, Traditional Festivals, Mask and Masquerades, Marriage, Greetings, Etc.

Occupation

The major occupation among Ebubu people is farming and hunting. The people also engage in minor fishing and trading.

Food

Eleme main food crop is yam (Esaa). This is supplemented with Cassava (Ojaku), which can be made into Nja Gari (Garri), Nja Ojaku (Foofoo/Loiloi), Pipini ojaku (Tapioka, slice cassava), mbiri (grinded cassava flavoured with ripe plantain, a sort of moimoi but richer and costly than ordinary moimoi), Cocoyam (Edente (Etoo Eleme), Etoo Akara, Echuru, Etoo Mmi – these can be cooked and eaten as obaa etoo or be pounded with enough palm oil and eaten with looloo mbalo as nja etoo).

Plantain (Obinͻͻ) can be eaten fried or boiled. It can also be pounded into omu or be grinded and mixed with cassava, fired and eaten as Pankek).  Three-leave yam (Ochu are of two varieties: Ochu Eleme and Joebi), Vegetable e.g., fluted pumpkin (Nsogũ), Pepper (Okofe), – all of which are grown for family use only and not for sale outside the community.

In other words, the staple foods that are customarily eaten by Eleme people are yams, cassava, cocoyam, plantain, three-leave yam, etc. The manner in which these foods are prepared and served makes the difference. Eleme yams are of different species and each has its particular use. They include: Ngwe, yᴐᴐ, kԑlԑmԑ, Chindonya, Dᴐkara, Mkpányi, Aka-Mkpányi, Okikaenu, etc. they are served sliced (Obaa Esaa) or pounded into eyarayara nja esaa or ͻtãrã nja esaa and eaten with the appropriate soup.

Other notable Eleme yams are Eburaale and Kᴐrᴐkᴐtᴐ, which are cultivated mainly by women and are mostly prepared into Esuri (yam pourage) and eaten.

There are three types of soup with cultural values in Eleme. These are Looloo Mbalo, Ebͻri Mbalo, and Ͻkwͻi Nsogũ. Each type of soup requires particular types of fish to go with, and they are meant for different occasions.

Looloo Mbalo is usually cooked with njijoii (snapper), nda (shynose), obui (catfish), ekoko (skate), ͻmεε (barracuda), and ekokoabura (shark) among other ingredients. Looloo mbalo is mostly served with nja esaa (pounded yam).

Ebͻri Mbalo is Eleme soup thickened with adε-mkpͻͻ (cowpea). It is known generally as native soup and may be prepared with dried fish and/or meat along other necessary condiments.

Ͻkwͻi Nsogũ entails the preparation of enough fresh pumpkin leaves, boiled and carefully grinded in mortal. The ingredients include mgboro, esͻrͻ ͻbani, dried meat, and one of the following types of fish – nda, ekoko, obui, eboakpina or ekokoabura. This type of soup is preferred during rainy season when fresh pumpkin leaves are abundant.

The ideal Eleme housewife knows the temperament of her husband and selects the type of soup she offers him to sustain and promote his love and good health.

Eleme Traditional Dressing

Eleme culture regulates the type and manner of dressing that suits different occasions. That accounts for the prescription of different dressings for both sexes at any given occasion and this promotes decency and morality among the people of Eleme. Eleme culture forbids a man dressing like a woman; while a woman must not dress like a man.

A spinster, except during a group customary ceremony, is not expected to tie two wrappers round her waist at the same time. O’ura Osuãa is the preserve of married women only. A widow who remains unmarried is precluded from tying her wrapper to reach down lower than her knees.

A bachelor in the process of marrying is expected to tie his wrapper in the manner called Ojibi Osuãa and this must not be knotted on the right side of his waist.

For members of the Chieftaincy Cadre and related title holders an outfit of Jumper, hat and walking stick with appropriate loincloth is the requirement.  But a titled chief must always tie Njiri, whether plain or designed.

Folktales and Story Telling

Stories and songs are instrumental in retaining languages and culture. Eleme folktales are particularly entertaining as they usually include a song with which the listener joins in. Stories are usually told in the evening to entertain adults and children alike. In addition to original songs, there is a rich culture for original composition of hymns – written and performed.

Arts and Crafts

Eleme people were once efficient craftsmen and women who produced mortals, pestles, drums, facemasks and masquerades, ladles, combs, chairs, boxes, among others. To meet their needs the Eleme people also produce clay pots, weave baskets, mats, etc. Painting is done mainly as a body decoration during festivals like wrestling, marriage, and ekpete dance.

Music

Traditional music in Eleme was developed out of the desire to transmit information. Singing and drumming were also developed for different types of occasions and ceremonies. Music is also essential parts of the Eleme culture.

Eleme cultural music includes:

  1. Mkpaa Ekoro
  2. Mkpaa Egͻni
  3. Egelege
  4. Ogolo
  5. Ngelenge
  6. Esͻ Mba
  7. Esͻ Akε
  8. Esͻ Ngwe
  9. Esͻ Okea Ebiε
  10. Kukunεnε
  11. Ebͻni
  12. Ogolo Ejԑ
  13. Ogolo Akԑ
  14. Kprikpԑ

 

Ø  Mkpaa Ekoro – This is a dance music in which men demonstrate their bravery and/or affluence. It is as old as Eleme.

Ø  Mpkaa Egͻni – It dates back to 1840 and remains a major talking drum of Eleme. Expert drummers use it to sing praises, encourage skills and bravery. Mkpaa Egͻni is the premier drum that is entirely indigenous to Eleme. It is customarily used for chieftaincy installation ceremonies and for yam title ceremonies. The burial of any traditional title holder is incomplete without mkpaa egͻni.

Ø  Egelege– This is a talking drum whose drummers are versatile and is used to convey a lot of information that remains people of the past thus gingers them into wrestling or warns about the consequences of an individual’s intended actions. Wrestling is the most popular sport in Eleme and egelege remains the special music for wrestling.

Ø  Ogolo– This is a local xylophone played as major dance music during celebrations. There are three major drummers, each handling 4, 7, or 3 of the wooden instruments. There are other drummers that handle the Ogũ, Okpo, and Ekere.

Ø  Ngelenge– Ngelenge has similar setting like Ogolo. The distinguishing feature between Ogolo, Ngelenge and other forms of Eleme traditional music is that while the songs related to Ogolo and Ngelenge are rendered entirely through drumming, the songs associated with Egelege, Esͻ Mba, Esͻ Ngwe, and Esͻ OkeaEbiε are rendered by designated singers.

Ø  Esͻ Mba – Esͻ mba is a musical group whose membership is confined to married women and widows. There are always Esͻ Mba groups in every Eleme clan or town and the group consists of two efficient singers and a concerted membership. Their instruments are “Egbe”, “Ekere”, and “Nsisaa”. Their songs related to matrimonial problems and their solutions and are inspiring. Esͻ mba is also used to exposed immorality and control social behaviour among women folks.

Ø  Esͻ Okea εbiε – Esͻ okeaεbiε is rendered by a designated singer and is concerned with revealing whatever offence that was committed in secret. Because Esͻ Okeaεbiε convened a lot of information concerning evil deeds or deviant behaviours of individuals and families, it acted as, “social or cultural means by which systematic and relatively consistent restrains are imposed upon individual behaviour and by which people are motivated to adhere to traditions and patterns of behaviour that are important to the smooth functioning of a group or society”.

Ø  Esͻ Akε – This consists of songs specially designed to encourage wrestlers. There is the lead singer and another person who sings an undertone to support him as well as maintaining the Ekere that provides the rhythm.

Ø  Esͻ Ngwe – This is another set of songs that relate to farming of yams and/or agriculture and the glory of acquiring the highly esteemed Eleme Yam Titles of Aachu, Obo, Obεrε Obo, Otaa Obo, and Achuete. Esͻ Ngwe is known to have given much encouragement to individuals who ordinarily were not inclined to taking any of these titles, as it made them reflect on their ancestors and proceed to taking two or more Yam Titles.

Ø  Kukunεnε, Ebͻniand Ogolo Ejԑ – These are ancient music played by warriors or secret cults in Eleme. They can be played at any time or day especially during emergency or community threat; or at midnight and only members of the cults concern participates. A lot of secrecy is associated with them but they ginger their members into action. They are played mostly during funeral ceremonies of members or during their meetings or initiations.

Ø  Esᴐ Eduduu, Kprikpԑ and Ogolo Akԑ – These are music of warriors, community defenders (Oku Ejԑ) and wrestling champions.

Dance

Eleme Dance refers to the dance of Eleme people. Eleme  dances teaches social patterns and values; and help people work, mature, praise, or criticize members of the community while celebrating festivals and funerals, competing, reciting history, proverbs, and poetry as well as to encounter the gods.

Musical Instrument

Eleme musical instruments include: musical pot, gong, flute, horn, wooden drum, split wooden drum, egbe, nsisaa, okpo, ogu, ogela, ekere, and so on which produce sounds by hitting, shaking, beating, blowing in the air, and rubbing them against another.

Few Eleme dances worthy of mention include:

  1. Eje Ekpete – This is a common dance among the Eleme women folks.
  2. Eje piopiopioo – It is the girls that dance piopiopioo. The style is exciting, percussive footwork danced bear footed at a particular temple on whistle, fiddle or mouth music. That is beating ones heels, toes, and feet in as many ways as possible and imaginable, keeping time with the rhythms of the music in reel and jig time.
  3. Eje Alikirijã – There are many styles of alikirijã dance that can be demonstrated. The style has never been prescribed, except dancing steps neat and close to the floor. Many alikirijã dancers have their own individual style and steps they like to do to particular tunes.
  4. Eje Agala– Dance for the boys and girls.
  5. Eje Mbᴐkᴐ/Ngelem – Wedding dance for new brides.
  6. Tamkpe Eje – Dance for both male and female irrespective of age.
  7. Okeri Eje This is the most popular dance step in Eleme. It is waist dance that is performed by both men and women. Okeri Eje dance step has been perfected in Eleme that both men and women use it to dance all types of music.
  8. Eje Echῑi Osila This is first daughter dance. In Eleme, every first daughter is entitled to this dance (as of right), and it is the only dance in which the dancer’s legs never touches the ground. The new bride, who must be first daughter, is usually dressed in a mountain of expensive cloths arranged in concentric circles round her waist. She will put on her legs/ankles heavy bracelets (abarachwa), heavy coral beads round her neck and both wrists, together with a ceremonial staff with white handkerchief tied on top of it. She also wears short skirt with her body exposed, carried on the shoulder of an able bodied young man, and she dances the ngelem music to and from the market, hailed all along by jubilating crowd of admirals.

Let it be stated here that Eleme traditional music and dance and accompanying activities are now on the decline because the generation of expert singers, drummers, wrestlers, and so on has given way to another generation of footballers, disco dancers and cultural alienators.

Traditional Festivals

Eleme traditional festivals include:

Agba Esaa– This is the ceremonial conferment of graded traditional yam titles of Aachu, Obo, Obere Obo, Otaa Obo, Achuete, and Ewoachunsin. These degrees conferred on recipient certain rights, privileges and honours, and are recognized throughout the Eleme country.

Agba Esun –Agba Esun (or New Yam Festival) is celebrated to express gratitude to the ancestors and to the living elders. The sacrifice known as “Ↄtԑbԑ Enu” is offered annually, usually in October, in the belief that the ancestors who have transformed to spirits upon their death are still very much around, seeing everything they are doing and trying on their part to guide and protect them; and who labored to cut the virgin forest and gradually reduced them to farm lands desired the first fruits. The sacrificial offering usually consists of one cradle (now basin) of good yams, drink, fish, fowl, or goat and other condiments.

Ogbo Nja– This is a cultural festival for children and new brides where parents, husbands, mothers-in-law, and fathers-in-law present gifts to their children, new brides and relatives; where children make new friends and eat happily and freely from community to community; and where women in their best and newest dresses sing, dance and rejoice for being hardworking, healthy and sensible enough to sustain the growth of their children throughout the year.

Ogbo nja is celebrated between the 13th and 20th of July annually depending on the position of the moon and traditional weekday known as Ͻkͻͻ. Ogbo nja festival is celebrated for two consecutive days. Day one known as Ͻkͻͻ Ͻbibai Etoo is for women while the next day called Mma Agba Okundo is for men.

Agba Nkikεε – This festival is celebrated annually on Ochu within the second week of March in honour of Nkikεε, the Earth goddess, and to mark the beginning of the planting season. Five days thereafter, precisely on the next Ochu another related ceremony called “Agba Etenchi” is marked, again to inform all and sundry of the commencement of the year’s farming season. Although only the initiated elders (Oku Nkpͻrͻ and Oku Nyoa) are involved in both festivals, it is used to communicate the beginning of a farming season, which resulted in both the young and old participating actively in farm work.

Obira Asã – This is lovers’ festival or celebration day; a sort of Valentine Day. It is also the final day for wrestling competitions across Eleme.

Ͻla Mba – This is Eleme’s wedding festival day. It was previously celebrated once a year, in June.

Other festivals worthy of mention are: Agba Mba, Agba Okundo, Oɂe Akε, and Agba Obibai Etoo.

Masks and Masquerades

Masks and masquerades are important elements of culture. In Eleme masks and masquerades are generally called Owu. Most owu are named after their bearers. However, there are few outstanding masks and masquerades in Eleme viz:

  1. Ebᴐni
  2. Ete Okolaa
  3. Nkͻnkͻ
  4. Ogolo Kurukuru
  5. Akparaloloo
  6. Dededede Ebiri

Marriage

Marriage is a highly respected institution in Eleme culture. The Eleme culture recognizes marriage as a union between man and woman in holy matrimony. To the people of Eleme, marriage is not only the coming together of man and woman in holy matrimony but, also a union of two families and two people for mutual benefits.

 

All mature females are expected to marry and live with their husbands. Children of such marriages belong to their father and have no substantial rights with their grandfather. The nuclear family which a man raises is subordinate to the larger family unit called Oku Ͻtͻ, which he belongs.

 

The Eleme culture promotes polygamy and encourages intra Eleme marriage. An Eleme man is expected to marry Eleme woman as first wife and is then free to marry from any other tribe or ethnic nationality. Because the culture frowns at Eleme man marrying first wife from outside, it accords no marriage recognition to those who do so, and they are exempted from participating in several cultural activities including taking of yam titles, admission into Ogbo Nkpᴐrᴐ and conferment of traditional chieftaincy titles. This once cherished tradition has been bastardized. Do not ask me how and why because we all know it.

Greetings

Greetings remain an important aspect of culture. Greeting is regarded as a sign of good behavior. It is expected that children greet their parents, teachers, and elders whenever and anywhere they see them. Eleme has no special way and manner of greeting. Although, the mode of greetings in Eleme has changed over the years, perhaps proving that culture is dynamic, this has been highly influenced by the English Language and tailored in that direction of our colonial masters. To my mind, Ade Ageta (Good Morning), Nnyimԑ Eɂera (Good Afternoon) and Mmuji Abã(Good Evening) are acceptable manner of greeting which should be adopted by all in keeping with changing times.

Conclusion

We have demonstrated that Eleme was founded by a warrior named Ibubu, now Ebubu; and that Ebubu is the ancient capital city of the territory known today as Eleme. It is also clear that Eleme has a rich cultural heritage and that Eleme people are known by their dressing, language, behavior pattern and have music and dances for various occasions and festivals.

Finally, I am grateful to the Proprietor and Management Staff of Leaders Foundation Schools for providing this opportunity for interaction, and the students for actualizing this occasion. I thank all the special guests for appreciating the necessity of shelving all personal engagements in favour of this occasion. I thank the general audience for listening to my views about the Ebubu People in History.

References:

Gutkind, P & Waterman, P., (ed) “A Science of Social Control”, in African Social Studies, London: Heinemann, 1977

Guy Feuer on The Convention on Cultural Diversity in African Geopolitics Identity and African Identities, no27 July – September 2007.

Jennings, J. D. &AdansonHoebel, (ed) “Readings in Anthropology”, New York:   McGraw Hill, 1972.

Ngofa, O. O., “Eleme Tradition,” Rescue Publications, Ogale-Eleme, 1994.

Osaro Ollorwi, “Community Policing & Crime Prevention in Pre-Colonial Eleme Issues& Perspectives” Port Harcourt, 2009

Osaro Ollorwi,   www.ollorwi.com.ng

 

Ottenberg, Simon & Phoebe, (ed) “Cultures & Societies of Africa”, New York: Random House, 1969

 

 

Chief Osaro Ollorwi

08036694027

 

HOW TO COMBAT CULTISM IN EBUBU

How to Combat Cultism in Ebubu

Ebubu was once regarded as the most stable and peaceful clan in Eleme. Several factors gave credence to this perception. As the traditional headquarters of Eleme, Ebubu remains both the ancient rally center and melting-pot of Eleme. In times of war and crisis Ebubu provides the necessary manpower, wherewithal and strategies for victory. Ebubu is known in Eleme as “Unmovable Community”. During the several wars (including the Nigerian-Biafra War of 1967 – 1970) that have one way or another impacted Ebubu, the community withstood them all and stayed unmoved. It is unfortunate that the peace that Ebubu enjoyed from inception is being shattered by our own children in connivance with the enemies of Ebubu. People of all ages and background have continued to wonder the rationale behind the recent upsurge in gang violence and cultism, which is questioning the genuine efforts of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, security agencies and the government to contain.

 

The efforts of youth leadership and security agencies in checking the activities of these hoodlums are appreciative. Especially when considered from the backdrop that as soon as normalcy returned, these cultists will resume their evil activities. Today new dimensions are being introduced in to the ugly situation – the use of dynamites, and killing and burning. These developments have increased the level of fear and worry among the residents.

 

The concerns of some of the chiefs and elders is that when some of these cultists are arrested and taken into custody by the police, they are quickly released on bail by the same police that is looking for them; a situation that makes the cultists to return home to boast and threaten those who are said to have masterminded their arrest. “This unending circle of search for the criminals, get them arrested and released them on bail is frustrating”, said one of the chiefs who pleaded anonymous.

 

Policing is a shared responsibility between the Police and the People. Chief Olukanke (not real name), observed that while the police bear guns, the cultists carry guns; the people (Youths, Chiefs and Elders) do not. Therefore, the police have more to do to check violent crimes in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general, since the people who do not bear arms are not expected to confront well-armed criminals bear-handed”, he reiterated.

 

The general opinion is that the police to be more active in their duties without assuming that the citizens are avoiding their own responsibility which include the provision of vital information.

 

Chief Olonta (not real name) also lamented the attitude of some police officers who compromise security by fraternizing with these criminals; and pointed out that some of these law enforcement officials have over stayed their usefulness in Eleme and deserve to be transferred out.

 

Chief (Mrs.) Ada, Emere Owa, described a situation where the cultists strike from the bush and retreat into the bush, yet the law abiding Chiefs and youths are arrested and detained by the police for no reason; and appealed for cooperation in the fight against cultism and other violent crimes in Ebubu. She warned against antagonism among security agencies and between them and citizens if the war against crimes and criminality must be won.

 

Explaining the efforts that the Ebubu Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders has made to solve the security challenges facing Ebubu since 2013, the Oneh Eh (Paramount Ruler) of Ebubu Kingdom, HRH Emere Emmanuel Osaroeke Bebe pointed out that the Ebubu Council of Chiefs and Elders donated the Old Primary Health Center Building in Ebubu to the Nigeria Police Force to serve as temporary site for Ebubu Police Station but wondered why nothing has been done to put the place into use by the police since then. He observed that when the police in Eleme came to inspect the place and the then Rivers State Commissioner of Police directed the matter to the State Police Anti-Cultism Unit in Port Harcourt, the people’s hope were raised. But, the matter died a natural dead. The people continue to live at the mercy of God.

 

He lamented that no sooner has a cultist been arrested and handed over to the police than the police release him into the community to continue terrorizing the residents, then turn around to blame the Chiefs and youths who these criminals are also after.

 

The royal father pointed out that the cooperation between the police and the people has already unveiled the identity of these known cultists. But wonder why nothing has been done to keep them out of the community. He questioned why the police should assume that unarmed Chiefs and Elders should chase and catch cultists that are well-armed.

 

Another prominent chief who asked not to be named said it is unfortunate that Ebubu, a once peaceful community, is today in anarchy and crisis, saying to rout these cultists from Ebubu, thorough understanding, cooperation and united efforts are needed to be harnessed by all stakeholders in Ebubu security. He said that one of the major challenges facing our efforts to fight crimes in Ebubu and Eleme is incessant transfer of Heads of Security in the area.

 

In his words, “Before an incumbent can familiarize himself with the terrain and be conversant with the environment he will be transferred. This is not good for the security of the place”.

 

Another important factor is the presence of a nearby seaport. Chief Obo observed that wherever there is busy seaport there is always high crime rate. He gave example of Apapa Lagos and Onne Eleme but was quick to add that the high presence of security personnel in these areas helps to check the activities of criminals.

 

Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu was also fingered as one of the depots and meeting points for all sorts of criminal elements in Ebubu. It is believed that “all the criminals that were dislodged from the various waterfronts in Port Harcourt are now in Trailer Park Ebubu from where they carry out their nefarious activities in collaboration with their local counterparts”.

 

Chief Obo also identified Dabor Swamp/Forest in Ebubu as one of the base of these cultists and queried why such places should not be dismantled and put into beneficial use. Also of concern are Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro villages in Egbalor that acts as possible hiding places for these criminals.

 

Our investigation revealed that releasing these cultists when arrested is the function of the police and this is due mostly to unavailability of concrete evidence to nail the criminal to the crime. Evidence is the foundation on which any criminal can be convicted and this is the working of the law. “If someone is arrested and taken into police custody, but there is no evidence for the law to take its proper course and the police are in one way or another induced with money to release the suspect on bail they will have no other choice because they cannot detail someone forever”, a concerned Elder narrated.

 

The parents are also accused of not paying proper parental attention to their children. “What are the parents doing to check their children between 12 and 15 years old that are being initiated into cultism?” queried CSC Joseph Gbarasung, DO, NSCDC, Eleme. He said if the parents say they are not aware, then they are being economical with the truth. They should check the chest and back of their children and they will be surprised how deep cultism has penetrated Eleme”, he instructed.

 

Fear of Personality was also identified as contributory factor to rising cases of cultism in Eleme. It was observed that while children of the poor are pointed out to the police or other law enforcement agents for arrest, children of the influential and well-to-do in society are covered and protected. This, it was observed, encourages crime and criminality.

 

The commander of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the area advised the community leaders and youths to “Inform the law enforcement officials about these cultists, their movement, and ongoing attacks and we promise you that we are equal to the tasks,” he assured.

 

Speaking on behalf of the Eleme Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Eleme Division, SP Amos Olugbenga Taiwo, DSP Thompson Ebikeme, the Divisional Crime Officer 1, agreed that incessant transfer of Heads of Security Agencies in the area is a major problem as far as crime fighting is concerned; but observed that it doesn’t take too long for trained officers to adjust to their new environment. He promised that the police will continue to do their best to ensure a peaceful and stable Eleme. “I am aware that Ebubu is a volatile place, but the police are doing everything to reverse the situation, and return Ebubu to its original peaceful, stable and tranquilized state”.

 

Continuing, he said that the law must take its proper course, stressing that it won’t be business as usual. He further explained that police will sort out all black spots in Eleme and raid then to clear the area of criminals, and agreed that there is urgent need for greater police presence in Ebubu, saying the jobs of the police in the area are enormous and therefore require support and assistance to perform efficiently and effectively.

 

Our investigation discovered that lack of modern policing facilities, like communication gargets, vehicles; personnel and so on are some factors militating against effective police performance in Eleme.

 

The police boss solicited for regular information about crimes and criminals, and assured that any information made available to the police will be treated as secret, and the identity of the informant will be properly protected.

 

Security Challenge in Ebubu

The major security challenge facing Ebubu is cultism, which manifests in rival cult clashes with its accompanying violent crimes such as killing (mostly rival cultists), arson (burning of houses and properties belonging to rival cult group members), armed robbery, burglary, rape, kidnapping and extortion among others. This development has not only grounded the social and economic life of Ebubu but also led to the desertion of the area by residents – both indigenes and strangers.

The following salient challenges also emerged during the course of investigation, which we observed are very important that solutions are proffered for them if efforts to solve the security challenges in Ebubu are to be fruitful.

These issues require in-depth investigation by the various security agencies, especially the DSS. They include:

  1. Remote and immediate cause(s) of incessant violent crimes in Ebubu.
  2. Source(s) of their Funds.
  3. Source(s) of their Weapons.
  4. Source(s) of their Recruits.
  5. Means of their Transportation and Communication.
  6. Modus Operandi of each Cult Group.
  7. Their Base Before, During and After Operations.

1.      Remote and Immediate Causes of Violence in Ebubu

The collapse, destruction, and denial of those component elements that bind the people of the four autonomous communities of Ebubu namely: Ejamah, Egbalor, Agbeta and Obolo, together such as belief (common oracle, culture and dialect with which the communities halo and worship together no longer exists), is a major factor in rising cases of hatred among the youths and violence in Ebubu.

 

Closely related to the above as one of the remote causes of the violence in Ebubu, is the absence of the streams from where the four communities fetch their drinking water which are now history. Also connected are the people’s farmlands that have been decimated and forcefully acquired and the environment that is devastated by the activities of oil companies in the area.

 

In addition to the foregoing are festivals that used to bring the people together such as Ogbo Nja, Aken O’e, Agba Esaa, and Eso Mba among others which has been discarded due to the forces of Christianity, exploitative industrialization, and unorganized education, thus eroding the people’s age long ties, unity, cooperation, love, and communalism.

 

Other important remote causes of rival cult clashes in Ebubu include the struggle for supremacy, territorial lordship and control. Campaign for recognition as lord of the area, search for responsibility that will yield immediate financial benefits (such as being hired for a fee to terrorize electorates and political opponents during elections to create political advantage for the benefactor; or, during chieftaincy tussles, youth and CDC elections, etc.) and to satisfy their immediate financial and social needs and aspirations through the perpetuation of violence in society, are some of the causes of continues violence in the area.

 

The immediate causes are as diverse as there are events and human needs. The unprovoked murder of Emere on April 19, 2013 was said to be the immediate incident that triggered up the series of killings and violent crimes which has lingered until today. Since then, “you kill one of us, we will kill one of you” had been the order of the day.

 

Argument over girlfriend or boyfriend and other trivial issues also constitutes immediate causes of incessant rival cult clashes and violence in Ebubu.

 

However, the community is afraid that the crisis is gradually expanding and extending, and may eventually result to killing an innocent citizen thus bring more mayhem upon the community. “Our fears are that, if, mistakenly or otherwise, a non-cultist, an innocent person from any of these communities is killed, Ebubu will be plugged into total chaos and disarray. God forbid!” Chief Nsan, who asked that his real name not be used, said.

2.      Source of Funds

It is no gainsaying that cultist in Ebubu source for funds to purchase arms and ammunition, procure charms, and finance their operations through Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Burglary, Theft of Motorcycles, and extortions from businesses in Ebubu and environs.

3.      Source of Weapons

The sources of weapons used by these cultists are diverse and shrouded in secrecy. However, during the course of study, it was disclosed that Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu is likely a ready market for arms for these cultists. Their counterparts in neighbouring communities are also suspected as possible source of supply of weapons. Some masquerading “do-or-die” politicians, chiefs and youth leaders, have also been accused of aiding and abetting the supply of arms to these cultists, perhaps to support their selfish pursue.

4.      Source of Recruits

Both rival cult groups scramble for recruits from the population of innocent children between the age bracket of 10 and 15 years old in the community. They lure these children with promise of protection, wealth, and fame. Where such enticement failed to convince the invitee, he or she is forced and initiated into cultism. After initiation, the neophyte is kept with threat of death or madness, thereby subjecting him or her to perpetual slavery, manipulation, control and life of crime.

Our investigation shown that these rival cult groups have seriously invaded and infiltrated all the secondary schools in Eleme – both public and private; and that most children between the ages of 10 and 15 are being initiated and used to perpetuate crimes in the neighbourhoods.

The situation is lamentable. Heads of Schools and Parents and guardians are advised to monitor their children, know the friends they keep, their acquaintances etc.; where they pass nights, and to regularly check the back and chest of their children for “marks” – signs of initiation in to cultism and report same to law enforcement agencies for proper investigation.

5.      Means of Transportation and Communication

These cultists are known to invade the community either in stolen cars or on captured motorcycles. During the course of our investigation, we discovered that the cultists usually abandon these cars when chased; while in most cases the motorcycles which they also stole at gun points and use for their operation are sold after the operation.

The GSM handsets remain the major means of communication among themselves and with their informants who are within the neighbourhoods and close to their targets. Girls between the ages of 12 and 16 are recruited and initiated; and they serve as road observers, spies, informants and arrowheads of these cultists as well as links between the cultists and the probable victim and the community. Underage boys also play these roles and in most cases security agents are not aware of this ugly development.

6.      Modus Operandi

They adopt the hit and run guerrilla warfare type tactics. During operation, they normally split themselves into two or three groups of four or five boys armed with sophisticated weapons and machetes. Their tactics involves carjacking, drive into the community, attack a predetermined target and pull out at the speed of light. After some days, weeks or month, they will seize motorcycles at gun point and the scenario is repeated again and again. The same techniques are applied during kidnapping.

However, during house to house robbery or burglary, they attack in large numbers, at times, between 8 and 15 persons, well-armed with sophisticated weapons, slug hammers, iron cutters, and so on with which they break walls or cut protectors to gain access.

It was uncovered that the cultists do not undertake attack at random. Rather, they gather intelligence information about their selected victim, conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations on him/her before finally attacking.

We found out that underage children both boys and girls are used by these cultists to carry out these deadly activities. And because they are insiders, usually very close relatives to the victim, (children, friends, brothers, sisters, or repentant cultists who are still sympathetic to their former cult group), the information they provide is mostly timely and current and these cultists utilize it very effectively.

However, there is need to balance the above with case of friends and relatives who make honest mistakes by ignorantly disclosing details of parents, friends, or neighbours’ movements or whereabouts. Security awareness is recommended which is at its lowest ebb in the area need to be boosted.

7.      Hiding Places

Their hiding places are probably, Trailer Park in Ejamah, Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro in Egbalor, and Dabor Swamp/Forest. It is also suspected that these cultists also hide in Okrika, Ogoni and Amadi-Ama; and retreat to these places after operations. Only well-coordinated investigation can unveil their very hiding place.

There is therefore urgent need for the authority to facilitate the establishment of a Police Station in Ebubu without further delay, since on their part; the community has donated a place for that purpose since 2013.

One of the issues pointed out by the residents during our interaction is widening gap among heads of security agencies in Eleme. It is suggested that the Heads of Security Agencies in Eleme promote cooperation and sharing of intelligence information among themselves, and treat information delve out to them by citizens as confidential to reinforce the people’s confidence and trust.

The Youth Council on their part must be more vigilant to check the types of vehicles and motorcycles that come into Ebubu all round the clock, and alert security agencies as soon as they identify or suspect any criminal movements or activities.

Since these criminals are known to be stealing cars or motorcycles for their operations and abandon same when pursued, the police are advised to introduce stop and search on vehicles, and persons carrying either backpacks or front-packs. The stop and search to be extended to persons wearing clothes that are extra big for their body size.

INSECURITY IN EBUBU: WIKE DEMOLISH TRAILER PARK NOW

Insecurity in Ebubu: Wike, Demolish Trailer Park Now

The Ebubu Trailer Park in Ejamah was originally conceived to serve as Motor Park for heavy trucks, especially trailers waiting for their turn to lift fertilizers from the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) and transport it to various retail distributors across the country.

With time, human presence in the area multiplied; and so did trailers and other vehicles, which caused a lot of jam on the roads. The Trailer Park soon gave rise to a shanty town around it, which can be described as a slum and is over populated.

If someone drives through the major roads, he will mistakenly assume the Trailer Park to be a decent and safe place. On the contrary, Trailer Park is worse than Ajegunle in Lagos touted as Nigeria’s foremost slum settlement. The only similarity between Ajegunle and Trailer Park is that both are built on the ground. Otherwise, Ajegunle is Paris; at least, there are well built houses with toilet facilities. There are roads and streets accessible to vehicles and some of the roads are tarred. Besides, Ajegunle is under the authority of the State and subject to the laws of the land.

Again, in comparing the Port Harcourt Waterfronts that were demolished and dismantled by Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi due to safety and security concerns, Trailer Park is worse, and therefore not fit to continue to exist.

The Trailer Park is connected with Okpako settlement n Ejamah through a pipeline, which is presently used as access way and contains a hand-dug earth drain flowing from the Park into Epene Stream through Okpako settlement.

The shanty structures inhabited by so many people who have no sanitary facilities, resulted to indiscriminate defecation all over the place. Some persons, due to the high population density of the area, put up insanitary commercial toilets and channel the waste into the earth drain that flows down through the slum along the pipeline, also making the place inaccessible.

The Trailer Park and the resulted slum are very filthy and dirty with heaps of refuse scattered all over. The residents of this slum also dispose their refuse along the East-West road directly opposite Daewoo Nigeria Limited, a Korea Company, constituting a serious menace to the public, moreso, polluting the Epene Stream which hitherto serves as source of drinking water for the people of Ebubu.

The houses are made mostly of corrugated iron sheets and timbers. A few are normal block houses, but they are invariably so tightly spaced together that even commercial motorcycles (popularly known as Okada) find it difficult to gain access. Vehicle owners in the settlement park their vehicles along East-West road, Onne road or Ebubu road and trek to their homes down in the hovels.

There is an awful stench that hangs in the air and those who spend some time there carry this odour around town, giving off a whiff of decay.  Trailer Park is deafening and disorderly. Even some corporate bodies are not left out in polluting the environment as they have turned the area into a junkyard for dumping of toxic wastes and other dangerous materials.

Lamenting the environmental degradation of the area, Senior Pastor with the Assemblies of God Church, Okpako, Rev. Eugene Osarobele said, “Last year they dumped something here and fire engulfed the whole area. People were burnt to death, and properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed. This year again, the same business people have come to dump Chemicals, and those mostly affected are women and children”.

A woman was killed last year by inhaling Chlorine fume that leaked into the atmosphere when the container exploded. Many children whose respiratory system were affected by the fume also died later in the hospital – an incident which forced Daewoo Nigeria Limited to shut down for two days.

It took the intervention of experts from NOTORE Chemicals Limited, Onne and INDORAMA Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited to seal up the hazardous, destructive and killer toxic explosion and prevent further loss of lives.

Apart from sanitation, the most critical and worrisome attributes of the Trailer Park is the total lack of security and the reign of the laws of the jungle put in place by underworld mafia lords who made themselves immune to the laws of the land.

Until recently, the law enforcement agencies were unable to take control of crime in the area. Robberies were committed in broad day light. Women were regularly raped. Hardly does a week pass without people being murdered. There was an unwritten law which forbids victims of crime to report to the police, even with a police post in a Caravan along the East-West road. Those who break the law will pay with their lives or those of their dear ones.

Of a truth, some gang chiefs have erected permanent outposts where sentries are stationed to watch out for the presence of law enforcement agents. There are also landlords and caretakers who rule by the gun. There are gunrunners who feel free and fear no laws. There are drug dealers who fear no NDLEA operatives. There are also hired killers who laze about with sharp knives and tout for jobs. There are freelance assassins waiting for any odd jobs.

Of course, there are legions of sundry criminals who serve as recruits for political thuggery, oil bunkering, foot soldiers, prostitutes, armed group informants, and so on. Trailer Park appears to be on its own, having a government of its own. What harm has these hardened criminals and prostitutes at Trailer Park not caused to lives and property in Eleme as the area continue to offer them safe haven.

Another contributory factor is the demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents which created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases of crime in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rape and other sundry crimes.

 

The inability of the former Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangements to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention by the present Rivers State Government under the able leadership of Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom in Ebubu.

In recent times Ebubu had recorded an increase in violence clashes between warring street gangs. The Trailer Park has become a strategic staging area for cultists and other criminals to kill, kidnap, rob and rape both indigenes and non-indigenes alike at random.

Many of the toughest secret cult groups have their operational centers in the shanty hiding village of Okpako – Trailer Park, because it provides excellent hiding place and escape outlets in an emergency.

The security threat posed by these illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park is real. The Trailer Park is home to many hardened criminals and prostitutes. They have transformed the hitherto peaceful and orderly Ebubu towns and villages into violent and crime infected communities where cultists, armed robbers, rapists and other hoodlums operate freely day and night.

The roles being played by non- indigenes in the ongoing violence in Ebubu have revealed the danger posed by continues existence of Trailer Park.  Let Trailer Park go!

It is on record that during the Town Hall Meeting held with Eleme people at Ambassador Nne Furo Kurubo Modern Secondary School, Ebubu on August 19, 2010 the Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi directed the then Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to demolish the Trailer Park “to give way for the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone complex, and to arrest the health hazards and threats to lives and property posed by the illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park”.

This directive, as loud and clear as it came, was not implemented. Today, all communities in Eleme are facing one security threat or another. Ekporo has been sacked; the very survival of Ebubu is severely threatened. There are reported cases of cult related kills in Ogale, Alesa, Aleto, Alode, Agbonchia, Onne, Eteo, etc.

The criminality, hostility, and lawlessness of the illegal settlers at Trailer Park grow by the day. There resistance to the law of the land and disregard for government authority and development is bothersome.

When on Wednesday 2nd April, 2014, the Eleme Local Government decided to take development to the illegal settlers at the Trailer Park by grading an access road hardly did the authority know that the exercise will be stiffly resisted and turned out to be bloody. Government officials led by the Supervisor for Environment, Chief Emmanuel Oluji and the Secretary of Ejamah Council of Chiefs and Elders, High Chief Augustus A. Yanwi were rough handled, attacked and assaulted by these hoodlums who ganged up into a mob. The grader’s windscreens were shattered, and the Operator beaten mercilessly, not minding the presence of the police.

The lack of security is a major problem in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general. Trailer Park should be sanitized. Everything possible should be done to provide security of lives and properties in the area.

Towards this end, all law abiding citizens and residents of Ebubu are to support government’s determination to make Ebubu safe and secure, so that people can go about their legitimate businesses without fear.

The Trailer Park area is porous and poses a serious threat to peace and security within Ebubu and Eleme. Therefore, the calls for the destruction and dismantling of all houses around Trailer Park, and for the government to in turn provide an alternative accommodation for the residents are not out of place.

This is a call on the security agencies to beam their security lights on Trailer Park and possibly take over the place.

Instead of this vast portion of land to be left fallow or provide sanctuary for criminals, it can be used for other meaningful developmental projects such as a Housing Estate or a Standard Market or a Standard Motor Park to serve the Onne Oil and Gas free Zone and the Onne Ports Complex.

My investigation revealed that the owners of the land are willing to donate the land for any of such developmental project. These are all public revenue generating ventures that the government can exploit for the benefits of the citizens. Continue reading

Wike Government Should Not Tolerate Cultism

Wike Government Should Not Tolerate Cultism
This article originally titled “Cultism in Ebubu: The Way Forward” was first published on the website, http://www.ollorwi.com.ng on Monday 13 January, 2014. It is modified and reproduced here to move us to ask ourselves what we have done as a people since then to provide solutions to the lingering cult clashes in Ebubu.

Cultists are group of persons or illegal gang that operates underworld and without public recognition that may be violent in nature against nonmembers especially when a member or group inordinate needs and demands are not met. Cultism is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society and has shattered the once serene Ebubu clan. In recent times we have recorded over thirty painful cult related deaths. While some were shot dead; others were strangled to death, yet others died in cult associated fatal road mishap during the burial of a victim of cultists’ outburst.

Apart from the display of shame, the Ebubu Cult Crisis from August 8 to September 29, 2013 resulted in the dead of over 30 people; a hundred families and two hundred and twenty individuals were displaced; about 10 others were injured; properties worth over 1billion Naira were damaged and the socio-economic life of Ebubu completely paralyzed.

The recent clashes between two rival cult groups have killed more than 10 people and completely shut down Ebubu as the place has been totally evacuated by both indigenes and residents. All shops and businesses in Ebubu have been forced to close as the cultists adopt new strategy of robbing and raping, in addition to terrorizing law abiding citizens. All markets in Ebubu have been under lock and keys for the past two months. The doors of most schools in Ebubu have remained close since the resumption of schools in the state this term.

There have accusations and counter-accusations between the Chiefs and the Police. While the Police are accusing the chiefs of not giving them enough information and help in their fight against cultism, the Chiefs are pointing accusing fingers at the Police for aiding and abetting the crime of cultism in Ebubu. A Chief was recently quoted as saying, “… anytime we call them (the Police), the team of policemen will switch on their siren about two kilometers away informing the people (cultists) they were coming.

“Many of them bought lands from these boys and so any policeman that has served up to five years in Eleme needs transfer in order to bring peace in Eleme because they have been so used to these boys….”

The Ebubu Youth President, Comrade Atonseobari Ojinga, corroborated the allegations of complicity in the war against cultism in Ebubu leveled against the Eleme Police. He observed that “the time lag in responding to distress calls by police from Ogale or Onne provides opportunity for these criminals to operate and escape before the arrival of the police”. He went on to repeat the call on the Rivers State Government to provide a Police Station in Ebubu.

Severally, the Chiefs of Ebubu have been arrested and severally they have been released for lack of complicity in the cult clashes that has sacked the community. What next? Going back to the basis is suggested. We must understand what cultism is all about. The environmental and social factors that give rise to cultism, the foundations and nurturing processes; the motivations and perceived benefits that attract and sustain recruits, and give them the morale to commit atrocities.

Of the five categories of cults in Nigeria namely: classical confraternities, mafia cults, female cults, godfathers’ cults and terrorists’ cults, two are present and operational in Ebubu. These are godfather’s cults and terrorist’s cults. Godfatherism is fast growing secret cult in Eleme, that s usually prominent before, during and after elections. The godfathers lure these innocent youths with drugs and monetary inducement and further promises to shield them, give them political appointments and huge monetary rewards which usually turn out to be ruse. And for fear of reprisal these guns and ammunitions are never withdrawn but left in the hands of these criminals and bandits with which they perpetuate violence in the community.

The cultists in Ebubu concern themselves with perpetuating crimes and fear of crimes by constantly terrorizing law abiding citizens, disposing them of their properties, rape and killing. The ancient city became deserted when the cultists introduced robbing and rape into their operating formula.

The chiefs and elders’ attempt to use “Ogbe” to control arms bearing and other violent crimes failed due to high level of insincerity displaced by the traditional rulers, Chiefs and Elders. The fear by some of these chiefs that their family may be victimized due to their complicity in the cult crisis necessitated the quick removal of the “Ogbe”. And the secret revocation of the “Ogbe”, brought about the collapsed of traditional authority as things felled apart.

However, during the 2013 cult clashes, efforts marshaled by few traditional rulers who were at home with the assistant of the then Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to use intelligence and law enforcement resources to control these youths yielded positive results and provided the platform for the majority of the Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, Elders, citizens and residents on self-exile to return home.

It is clear that the Ebubu Youth Council Caretaker Committee have failed to address the Ebubu Cult crisis, the major problem it was created to solve. This failure is a clear manifestation of the rot in our system and the danger in politicizing youth leadership.

I predicted thus in 2013, ‘As peace is gradually returning, it will be disservice to the Eleme nation, if we wait until these young boys and girls get further loose, relocate to “Ɔpε” or into the creeks and consolidate to unleash greater havoc on the masses before we act. The invocation of “Ete Ɔpᴐᴐ” (Traditional Mace) and “Nkpᴐrᴐ” (Traditional Staff) are but temporary measures likely to fail as did “Ogbe”’.

CAUSES OF CULTISM IN EBUBU
The problems of rising cases of cultism and insecurity in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general can be traced to so many factors. Some of these factors are:

1. Intermittent Communal Crises between Eleme and Okrika

These crises encouraged the procurement of guns and knives proof charms for majority of the youths to protect them during these wars. The cessation of hostilities did not terminate the potency or otherwise of the charms. Majority of these youths still believe that they are invisible, that they are guns and matches resistant. The crises also exposed the youths to places where they can procure these charms.

The police and other law enforcement agencies should step up their intelligence mechanism and expand their investigative tentacles to uncover these native doctors/medicine men as part of the processes of containing the menace of cultism in Eleme. The traditional rulers can be helpful in this regard.

2. Chieftaincy Tussle and Acrimony among the Chiefs

Chieftaincy tussle and acrimony among the chiefs of Ebubu have assumed an alarming state. It is a cold war that many do not know it exist yet its impact is being fetched in the activities of these young boys and girls who are being misled for their sponsors’ selfish goal. Government must address the emerging time bomb in Ebubu and in other clans and communities of Eleme before it explodes and consume us all.

Government must step in to solve the problems of acrimony among the chiefs in Ebubu to avoid total breakdown of law and order. The rising fire can be felt by careful observers, especially security experts who cannot claim ignorance of the danger posed by increasing chieftaincy tussle and acrimony in Ebubu.

3. Rivalry Among Youths’ Bodies

The way and manner most of the youth’s bodies in Ebubu were elected and inaugurated left much to be desired. In most communities that constitute Ebubu due processes were not followed. Besides, political considerations and personal interests took prominence over transparency, common sense, and community interests. The results are rising cult related killings, crimes and general fear of crimes. The government owes it a duty to check undue rivalry among the youths by ensuring that where due processes were not followed to elect and constitute a youth body, something is done to address the shortcomings so as to carry everybody along and promote the spirit of comradeship and brotherhood among the youths.

The politicians should reconsider their present stand of seeing youths and youth bodies as standing armies with which to win elections; and therefore must manipulate youth elections’ processes so as to install cronies and empower them in preparations for elections. This mindset has robbed Elemeland of peace and purposeful leadership. Community leadership, at all levels, is the purview of Council of Chiefs and Elders. The earlier we understand this the better it will be for Eleme.

Also, towards this end, the traditional rulers should wake up from their slumber or sleep and invoke appropriate traditional instruments in exercise of their powers. Traditional stool is not met for those alienated from what makes the people unique in their own way.

This trend, if left unchecked, the politicians will soon usurp the powers of Ogbo Nkpᴐrᴐ in the selection and installation of traditional rulers; they will decide who becomes a Land Priest/Traditional Prime Minister); and they will also choose who leads Egbara Eta and Mba Eta. Developments that will further provoke our ancestors, split our generation, and retard our civilization.

4. Social Decay

The general collapse of the value system, disregard for human life, lack of respect for elders and constituted authorities, absence of the once cherished spirit of communal love and peaceful coexistence, and total alienation of the youth from customs and tradition of the people of Eleme due to rapid industrialization and shameless display of ill-gotten wealth are major contributory factors to the uncontrollable incidents of cult induced killings and wide spread terrorism in Ebubu that needed urgent remedy through reorientation and reawakening.

5. Unemployment
An idle mind is the devil’s workshop says a popular adage. The rate of unemployment in Ebubu is alarming. You need to take a walk around the community any afternoon and see for yourself the number of youths idling away doing nothing. Something need to be done and quickly too to address the problem of unemployment in Ebubu.

6. Illiteracy

The level of illiteracy in Ebubu is very high compare to other clans of Eleme. This may sound embarrassing and unacceptable to some of us, but, we must tell ourselves the truth for once. There is urgent need for the government to device ways of getting our youths back to school. An educated mind cannot be easily convinced into carrying weapons to terminate the life of a fellow human being or destroy properties maliciously. Government should look in this direction as part of long term solutions to insecurity in Ebubu and Eleme generally.

7. Desperate Politicians

It may seem myopic or even unspeakable, but the fact is that some desperate politicians are behind the cult crises in Ebubu either during the preparation for the launch of their political ambition or to propagate their popularity or to wrestle political mandate from opponents, or to keep stolen mandate. Whatever way, ignorantly, though, they should be told in clear terms that what they are doing tantamount to building terrorists cell and is against the law of this country especially the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011.

8. Laxity on the Parts of Law Enforcement

The laxity on the part of law enforcement arises from the failure of intelligence security and the gap existing between the Police, Neighborhood Guards and the citizens. The State Security Service (SSS) as plain clothes force should as a matter of priority sit up to its responsibility by gathering real time intelligence that will help check these cultists and criminals. They can create a local ruse force to conduct pseudo operations among these youths. There is urgent need for greater presence and interactions in the communities, use of non-law enforcement resources that breaks cultural, language and information barriers and promotes trust and common goal.

Besides, the animosity and struggle for supremacy between the SSS and the Police in Eleme which is visible and which has robbed them the sharing of intelligence and other information over the years, must be resolved now if the security agencies must deliver on their mandates.

9. Drug Abuse and Addiction

A walk along any street in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general will reveal immediately the harm hard drugs has done to our young boys and girls. There is virtually no street in Ebubu without at least three to five drinking joints and a hard drugs dispensing closet. Most cult related violence is traceable to effects of hard drugs. Security agencies must brace up to the fight against drug abuse in the area. Identification and rehabilitation of addicts is not out of place as part of immediate solution.

10. Arms Proliferations

The proliferation of small arms in Eleme is of great concern to security practitioners. While many of these arms can be traced to the Eleme and Okrika/Ogu communal conflicts as pointed out earlier, others are linked to the recent Niger Delta “militants for negotiation for development” operations. Still others were purchased by the criminally minded to terrorized innocent citizens and residents and dispose them of their belongings. There is therefore urgent need for the government to put all necessary machinery into motion to mop-up these arms. Arm for money strategy is recommended here propelled by the spirit of conditional amnesty.

11. Influx of Displaced Waterfronts’ Residents

The demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases crimes in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rapping and other crimes.

The inability of the Rivers State Government to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangement to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom.

It is therefore not out of place to call on the authorities of Eleme Local Government to do something about “Trailer Park” in Ejamah Ebubu which has become the den of criminals in the area. Attention should also be focused on the security red spots in Alesa, Agbonchia, Akpajo, and Onne that are fast emerging as criminals breeding centers in Eleme.

Conclusion

Cultism is a thorn in the flesh of the people and a clog in the wheel of progress of Ebubu Clan. To eradicate this monster, the family, school and church must accept their responsibilities of providing good basic home training, moral and spiritual orientation to the children. The government must eradicate those issues that give rise to crimes and social decay, while law enforcement agencies should ensure that any person who falls short of the law faces the rod of the law. This will create and sustain sanity in our society.

It is now the duty of the various stakeholders in Ebubu Clan to avoid a repetition of the ugly experience of the past which led to breakdown of law and order, and work towards ensuring lasting peace in the area. This, they could do by constantly and continuously monitoring the youth bodies in the area and calling them to order whenever they are derailing.
The chiefs on their part are also advised to institute an effective and efficient peer review mechanism to prevent what might be detrimental to the fragile peace in the area.

The Rivers State Government should also consider the request of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders and opinion leaders of Ebubu Clan concerning establishing a Police Post in the area. Considering the rapid industrialization that is taking place in the area and uncontrollable influx of people from various parts of the world and the country into Ebubu the request for a police station in the area is not out of place but a priority. Police presence is a good deterrent.

Let it be pointed out here that a place have been donated by the people, it has been inspected and confirmed suitable by the police authority in Eleme. What is delaying the approval and take off of the Police Post in Ebubu?

While appreciating the efforts of the Council Chairman and Chiefs and Elders of Ebubu to checkmate the menace of cultism, it is pertinent to call on all concerned stakeholders to ensure that the passion and zeal demonstrated in the course of searching for workable solutions to the problems of cultism is not abandoned midway as that will be more disastrous.

It is also important to call on the Federal Government to consider addressing those long term factors that gave rise to cultism in the areas such as illiteracy, unemployment, and frustration in addition to the short term solutions being implemented.

The Wike government should not tolerate cultism in any part of Rivers State. The government should as a matter of priority encourage the communities to implement zero tolerance to cultism and other vices. The government can only do this by ensuring that anybody caught, no matter from which home he comes, gets an appropriate punishment. Community leadership needs the support of government, law enforcement agencies, and parents to ride the villages of cultists and other bandits. That is, to solve social decay, all stakeholders must cooperate with community leaders so that they can maintain the required discipline.

If parents monitor their children well, they will be under their control. Besides, the government should improve on deliverance of the much talk about dividends of democracy by ensuring that security and welfare of the people are given prominence. Rivers Youths deserve quality education and employment, uninterrupted electricity supply, water and roads, quality health facilities, clean environment and other social infrastructures that guarantee acceptable standards of living for all.
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Security Challenges of Rising Environmental Crisis in Ebubu

Security Challenges of Rising Environmental Crisis in Ebubu

Tragedy struck in Ejamah Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria when a young man was suffocated to death while digging a Suck Away pit.

We gathered that the victim, Mr. Emmanuel Okulu and his colleague were hired to dig the suck away pit. Investigations revealed that Okulu, an unemployed 30 years old man was inside the pit digging while his other colleague was outside the pit drawing out the bucket of sand when he noticed that the victim could no longer talk or move.  

Eye witness said when his colleague went into the pit with the aim of rescuing him; they were both trapped by the gas.

A rescuer who arrived few minutes later found Okulu and his colleague unconscious. His body, it was learnt, was seriously drenched in liquefied natural gas. He died on the spot while his colleague was rushed to the Sun and Star Clinic and Maternity at Ebubu from where he was referred to another hospital for further treatment.

It could be recalled that in January this year at Okpako Ejamah Ebubu, a woman was reported to have died after inhaling chlorine gas dumped in the area.

Our investigation revealed that a chlorine gas container was said to have busted open and leaked into the atmosphere, affecting the respiratory system of many of the inhabitants of the area.

A Senior Minister of the Assemblies of God Church in the area, Reverend Eugene Osarobele decried the state of the environment of area. He pointed out that companies operating in Eleme and its environs use the place as a junkyard for various forms of toxic waste and other dangerous materials without recourse to environmental consequences of their actions.

“My concern is how these businessmen that are inhuman can be controlled?” he said.

“Last year they dumped something which exploded and fire engulfed the whole place. People were burnt alive, properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, yet nothing was done about it.

“This year again, the same business people have come to dump chemicals and those mostly affected are pregnant women and children.”

The Paramount Ruler of Ejamah, Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara lamented the death of Emmanuel Okulu and called on Shell Petroleum Development Company to accept responsibility for his dead

 

A reliable community source also revealed that, “About two months ago, there was a crude oil leakage from the ground which was not far from where the pit was being dug which led to the dead of Okulu. SPDC visited the scene with their experts and armed soldiers. Indigenes and residents of the area were prevented from witnessing what they were doing. We believe that the chemicals spread around the area might have caused the death”.

Expressing shock at the untimely death of Emmanuel Okulu his elder brother, John Okulu described the deceased as a cool and easy going person who would not look for people’s trouble. He wondered why SPDC who knows what killed his brother should now turn around to harass the bereaved family with police and other security agents.

 “They (SPDC) came here yesterday with their police saying they want to carryout autopsy examination on our brother. We have no answers to give to them, so we kept quiet. An autopsy on someone who died from liquefied natural gas’ suffocation after two weeks in the morgue?” he lamented.

“Besides, the police took my brother to the mortuary before informing me of his dead. Why is SPDC suddenly now interested in running from pillar to post, why are they playing hide and seek game, if they don’t know what killed my brother?” he queried.

The level of pollution in the area is alarming. Right in the heart of the community, close to the stream (Wamba) that used to be the people’s only source of drinking water, fishing and swimming is a signpost erected by SPDC with the inscription, “WARNING! DO NOT DRINK, FISH OR SWIM HERE”; a multi-million Naira SPDC’s contract which we were informed was executed by the Eleme Local Government Council. Crude oil pipelines run through farmlands in all the communities of Ebubu, and functional pipelines are exposed to the elements here and there. Yet the people have nothing good to show for all these, except tales of devastation, deceases, sufferings and deaths.

The Ejamah Ebubu Oil spill has been described as the earliest massive crude oil spill recorded in the Niger Delta. Although, literature on the spill is scanty, oral history in the area holds this catastrophic incident close to the people, and the lasting physical scars remain as real evidence of the disaster.  The Ejamah Ebubu spill site is a world-class oil pollution scene. A visit to the site recently by members of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) led by Professor C. P. Wolf, Dr. Amy Agofure and Dr. Osaro Ollorwi was heart touching and revealing.

A ruptured pipeline caused by an inferno that consumed nearly 40 homes, persisted for a long period and spread from Ejamaejor forest up to Wamba stream through Ochani swamp at which spots many people died in the fire. Large expanse of farmlands covering 255.369 hectares and biodiversity losses were recorded to the incident.

But despite judicial efforts to compensate and alleviate the suffering of the people arising from the pollution, ensure proper clean-up of the impacted areas and return the environment to its pre-impacted status, SPDC has continually turned down judicial pronouncements and regularly embark on endless appeals.

The people are wondering aloud:  Having polluted the area to the point of warning the people to stay away from Wamba Stream, Ochani swamp and other impacted areas because the waters are not safe for human consumption, the fishes in it are contaminated and unsafe for human consumptionand swimming in the waters is dangerous, what alternative arrangements has SPDC made to take care of these essential needs of the people?

SPDC provided water for communities in Nchia, a distance of more than three kilometers from Ebubu and is busy blowing trumpets around the world announcing the provision of safe water for Eleme. What a shame? Our investigation disclosed that contract for second phase of the water distribution network has been concluded. But, even in the contract for the second phase of the distribution of the purported “Eleme Water Scheme” that is yet to be executed Ebubu and other clans of Odido are not captured therein as documents of the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources on the matter indicate.

Where do SPDC want the people of Ebubu to source for fish, a universal source of good protein from, despite visible poverty in the area perpetrated by SPDC’s donkey years of reckless oil and gas exploration and production activities? Who then is killing the people’s recreational life by polluting their waters and not providing them alternative swimming facilities and other water resources?

Despite being home of crude oil since 1956, Ebubu has been described as land of natural gas. Gas has been discovered in commercial quantities is Dabor, Mmeh and Nkoh Swamps and environs. A dig of up to 10 feet anywhere in Ebubu is enough to get to either oil or natural gas. It appears the people of Ebubu are living, moving and having their being on time-bomb that may likely explode anytime any day. While SPDC is invariably claiming sole ownership of natural resources in the area, we are of the opinion that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law will go a long way to addressing the issues of exploration of abundant natural resources in Ebubu and across the country.

 

The above scenario creates serious security challenges. It well known fact the world over, that national security is beyond the purview of military capability and blind application of force or strength. Effective and efficient management of the elements of national security is required for both national security and sustainable development. The correct mix of economic elements, social elements, environmental elements, women and youth elements and military elements, among others, is crucial to checking insecurity in our various communities.

Liquefied Natural Gas Suffocates Man to Death

Liquefied Natural Gas Suffocates Man to Death
Tragedy struck in Ejamah Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria when a young man was suffocated to death while digging a Suck Away pit.
We gathered that the victim, Mr. Emmanuel Okulu and a colleague were hired to dig the suck away pit.

Investigations revealed that Okulu, an unemployed 30 years old man was inside the pit digging while his other colleague was outside the pit drawing out the bucket of sand when he noticed that the victim could no longer talk or move.
Eye witness said when his colleague went into the pit with the aim of rescuing him; they were both trapped by the gas.
A rescuer who arrived few minutes later found Okulu and his colleague unconscious. His body, it was learnt, was seriously drenched in liquefied natural gas. He died on the spot while his colleague was rushed to the hospital.
In January this year at Okpako Ejamah Ebubu, a woman was reported to have died after inhaling fumes from toxic materials dumped in the area.
Our investigation revealed that a deadly chemical container was said to have busted open and leaked into the atmosphere, affecting the respiratory system of many of the inhabitants of the area.
A Senior Minister of the Assemblies of God Church in the area, Reverend Eugene Osarobele decried the state of the environment of area. He pointed out that companies operating in Eleme and its environs use the place as a junkyard for various forms of toxic waste and other dangerous materials without recourse to environmental consequences of their actions.
“My concern is how these businessmen that are inhuman can be controlled?”, he said.
“Last year they dumped something which exploded and fire engulfed the whole place. People were burnt alive, properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, yet nothing was done about it.
“This year again, the same business people have come to dump chemicals and those mostly affected are pregnant women and children.”

Speaking to reporters in his palace the Paramount Ruler of Ejamah Clan, Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara lamented the death of Emmanuel Okulu and called on Shell Petroleum Development Company to accept responsibility for his dead.
A reliable palace source revealed that about two months ago, there was a crude oil leakage from the ground which was not far from where the pit was being dug which lead to the dead of Okulu. SPDC visited the scene with their experts and armed soldiers. Indigenes and residents of the area were prevented from witnessing what they were doing. We believe that the chemicals spread around the area might have caused the death.
Expressing shock at the untimely death of Emmanuel Okulu his elder brother, John Okulu described the deceased as a cool and easy going person who would not look for people’s trouble. He wondered why SPDC should know what kills his brother and they are being harassed with police and other security agents. “They (SPDC) came here with their police and staff saying they want to carryout autopsy examination on our brother. We have no answer to give to them, so we kept quiet. Autopsy on someone who died from liquefied natural gas’ suffocation after two weeks in the morgue?” he lamented.
“Why is SPDC interested in trying to evade responsibility if they don’t know what killed my brother?” he queried.
The level of pollution in the area is alarming. Right in the community, close to the steam that used to be the people’s only source of drinking water is a signpost erected by SPDC with the inscription, “WARNING! DO NOT DRINK, FISH OR SWIM HERE”. The questions on my lips are:
Having polluted the area to the point of warning the people to stay away from Wamba Stream because it is not safe for human consumption, the fishes in it are contaminated and swimming in it is dangerous, what alternative arrangements has SPDC made to take care of these needs of the people? SPDC provided water for communities in Nchia, a distance of more than three kilometers from Ebubu and is busy blowing trumpets announcing provision of safe water for Eleme. What a shame? From where do SPDC want the people of Ebubu to source for fishes, good suppliers of protein, despite visible poverty in the area perpetrated by SPDC donkey years of oil and gas exploration and production activities in the area? Why did SPDC choose to kill the people’s recreational life by polluting their water and not provide them alternative swimming facilities?