AUSTIN OYIBODE/ KELLY GILOR
Hundreds of youths and ex- agitators from Egbema in Warri North local government area of Delta state have called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to sack Chief Favour Izuokumor, the commissioner representing Ijaw ethnic nationality in the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
The placard carrying protesters said the sack should be with immediate effect in order to sustain the peace currently being enjoyed in the state, noting that Izuokumor’s continued stay in the office will bring crisis, just as they alleged that Izoukumor is siphoning the money belonging to the Ijaw oil producing communities for his personal accounts since he resumed office.
The hundreds of protesters that stormed the DESOPADEC headquarters in Warri were led by their various camp leaders, Gen. Aroni Oputu, Gen. Austine Aboh and Gen. Felix Mieyenmeneyei.
Speaking on behalf of the leaders, Aroni Oputu, who is also a member of Delta state water ways and land security, explained that before Chief Izoukumor came on board as the commissioner representing ljaw in DESOPADEC, the commission has been paying the sum of N600million per annual for security to the heads and leaders of the Ijaw and Itsekiri oil producing communities in Delta state.
Aroni explained further that the commission has been paying the said money through monthly payment of N50million per month and this money is shared equally at the sum of N25million for each of these two tribal communities.
“But to our greatest surprise since Chief Favour Izoukumor came on board as the commissioner representing ljaw ethnic nationality in the DESOPADEC for the past three years and some months the money that belongs to ljaw oil producing communities has been siphoned to his personal accounts in collaboration with staff of the commission.
“When we draw the attention of the Managing Director, Olorogun William Makinde, of DESOPADEC, he told us that the commissioner representing ljaw ethnic nationalities, heads and leaders should go and sort themselves out which means Izoukumor has been siphoning the money belonging to ljaw oil producing communities for the past three years and some months.
“We call on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to sack Chief Favour Izoukumor with immediate effect for peace to reign in the state.
“We are appealing to Governor Okowa to direct the Managing Director of DESOPADEC, Olorogun William Makinde, to pay all the outstanding money belonging to the Ijaw oil producing communities for the interest of peace and justice,” he said on Monday.”
But when contacted on phone, Izuokumor denied the allegations saying there is no truth in all the issues raised by the protesting youths from the Ijaw land.
“They were misinformed. There is no iota of truth in the allegation they are carrying about. The money, they are talking about is not paid through my office. There is no way I can collect their N600million a year and N50million monthly.
“And if such money is being paid, it cannot be just for Egbema clan, it’s supposed to be meant for the whole ijaw ethnic nationality, particularly the oil producing communities. But to the best of my knowledge their claim is not correct. And that money they claim is not paid through my office.
“When we addressed them when they came for the protest, we agreed that we should investigate to know who that money is being paid to and to ensure that the money gets to the beneficiaries. This week, I am writing a memo to the commission about the outcome of the meeting and recommending my own suggestion to avert future recurrence of protests.”
When asked that since he is from that area he should know which office receives the money, he said “that is what I’m telling you, as a commissioner I’m not aware, I don’t know. It’s not because I’m a commissioner, so I should know everything.
“The issue is about security. The issue they are protesting on is not under my purview. That is the message. I cannot be held accountable for what I do not know. What I intend to do is to write to the commission, stating this is what happened, this is what they said and the management will take decision on that.”