The people of Owa-Ekei community and the home town of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Ika North-Eats Local Government Area of Delta State, have instituted legal fire works against the state government over the alleged destruction of their ancestral shrines and other traditional values.
The people in suit asking for N50 billion damages, alleged that the state government through its agents, infringed on their rights to unlawfully invaded their ancestral shrines which includes tombs, monuments and other traditional values with suit no 11/106/02/DTSHC/ instituted at the High Court in Asaba, Owa Ekei people through their lawyer, Barr. Chris Ehianuka, alleged that the state agents also encroached on the sources of the community’s protection and inspiration, adding that the Okpara-Uku, Elders in Council, Chiefs and other of the community met and resolved to seek redress at the law court hence the state government allegedly refused to tender apology and pay compensation of N50billion within 21 days ultimatum issued on it.
Representatives in the suit for the community includes; Mr. Francis Obihian, Mr. Samuel Ahanor, Mr. Raphael Agede, Mr. Onyeka Iraiwu, Mr. Lucky Onyebigwa and Ikechukwu Elelegu.
A copy of the writ of summons made available to journalists, stated that sometime in the month of December 2016, the Delta State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Chief Dan Okenyi and his agents allegedly invaded the community (Owa Ekei) lands and bulldozed individual farmlands, their property and proceeds to their reserved lands, housing the community’s ancestral shrines, tombs, monuments including herbs, farms and allegedly destroyed them, claiming the lands belong to the state government in their to reclaim lands cum government’s property in wronged lands.
The writ further alleged that the agents including the Commissioner who supervised the act, claimed they were acting on the instructions of the Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, adding that the shrines had been aged long custom and tradition of the community which preserve the people from dangers.
It noted that all through the years, the shrines have never been destroyed or harm any body from the community, rather it serves as protection. Some elders of the community, one of them, Chief Edward Obano, said it was a taboo and abomination to see their shrines destroyed by persons who claimed to be agents of the state government, adding that several letters of complaints to state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on the destruction of their shrines fell on deaf ears.
He disclosed that the agents came to carryout unlawful invasion to their shrines as allegedly supervised by the Commissioner, Chief Dan Okenyi and two young men, whose names could not be ascertained.
The elder statesman said they were convinced that Governor Okowa had no hand in such unlawful act perpetuated by the Commissioner, Chief Dan Okenyi and his cohorts, stressing that it could be mastermind by yet unidentified persons.
The community’s elders further alleged that the Chief Priests of the shrines were chased away by aggrieved bees following the alleged destruction of the shrines, indication that the gods were angry and have been rendered homeless.
Although hearing date has not been fixed, But in a swift reaction, the commissioner for lands and survey, Chief Dan Okenyi dispelled all allegations against him as untrue, saying that officials of the Ministry of Lands and Survey under the mandate to recover government lands and property carried out their civic duties in Owa-Ekei community.
He said that it was not the business of the officials to know whether there were shrines or not in government’s lands. “There is no cause for alarm, we shall meet in court when the time comes” he added.