There are emerging revelations that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, may have acted on false report to declare Comrade Stanley Mgbere, a youth leader in Onne Community in Eleme local government area, wanted with a princely N50million ransom placed on his head.
Gov. Wike, in a broadcast last Friday, declared Mgbere wanted “for leading members of the banned IPOB(Indigenous People of Biafra) to cause the recent violence and destruction of lives and property in Onne in Eleme Local Government Area.” But findings by this newspaper revealed that the wanted young man is a victim of internal politics and chieftaincy tussle in Onne, his community.
The Neighbourhood spoke with multiple sources in Onne and Eleme, respectively, who debunked Wike’s position that Mgbere has links to IPOB.
It was gathered that during the #EndSARS protests across the country, Onne youths had barricaded the major road leading to the country’s second-largest Port, the Onne Port Complex. Whereas their protest was part of the national revolts against police brutality, the youths added sme sort of local flavor to theirs. They protested against what they claimed was their exclusion from employment by companies operating in their area.
That protest grounded activities at the Federal Ocean Terminal, the Federal Lighter Terminal, the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, Intels Services, Prodeco, the Nigerian Naval College(NNS Onura), and other oil and marine services firms operating in the area.
It was confirmed by local sources that Mgbere participated prominently in the protests that demanded the implementation of the Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, agreements the firms entered into with the community; youths empowerment; provision of basic amenities that would include good road, water, light, drainages; and an end to alleged unlawful removal of Onne natives working in companies operating within their territory.
The newspaper gathered that the companies made attempts to break the ranks of the protesting youths through the offer of cash to the tune of about N40million. Such attempts were reportedly rebuffed by the youths led by Mgbere. It was at that point, The Neighbourhood gathered, that the companies approached some politicians and Chiefs in Onne for a meeting. A former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, known to be close to Gov. Wike, and a prominent traditional ruler in the area, were reportedly in that meeting. Credible sources in Onne told The Neighbourhood that at the meeting, it was agreed that the “divide-and-rule” approach be employed by the companies against the youths. The youths to be wooed were also listed in that meeting and emissaries were dispatched to them. Cash in the value of N10million reportedly exchanged hands and those youths whose palms got greased returned to the protest ground but with a “new” song. They pushed for a break in the protests to enable the companies to resume operations “while the youths’” demands would be looked into by the offending firms. That fractioned the protest into two sides anchored on the two chieftaincy tussle lines in Onne community. While the tussle for the Onne traditional stool has dragged on for decades, the latest dispute emerged in Ogoloma, an Onne hamlet, where a new Chief was reportedly elected and installed only to be challenged by another Chief from the opposing faction.
On hearing the treachery allegedly committed by their Chiefs and a few of their mates, the youths went on rampage during which time they attacked and destroyed a hotel owned by a son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area. The hotelier is said to be an ally of Gov. Wike. In retaliation, youths on the other side of the divide set ablaze some houses owned by their opponents.
It was in April 2020 that Governor Wike declared Princewill Osaronwa Osaroeijji, then Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Youth Leader in Eleme, wanted with N5 million bounty, placed on his head.
An investigation carried out by The Neighbourhood, however, had revealed that Wike acted in error based on false information. While Wike said Osaroejiji had attacked officials of the Rivers State COVID-19 Team working in Eleme, investigation revealed that the struggle for the control of PDP local chapter leadership was the reason Orasoejiji was framed up. Aside declaring the youth leader wanted Wike directed and supervised the destruction of Prodest Hotel, and Edemeteh Hotel, located in Alode and Onne community, respectively. Wike said the hotels violated his Executive Order on prohibition of hospitality activities in Rivers State for the period of the lockdown he imposed on the state over the coronavirus pandemic. However, The Neighbourhood gathered that Wike had since rebuilt the damaged hotels.
The Neighbourhood investigation reveals that the governor’s latest pronouncement on Mgbere has similar lines of fault as in the earlier case of Osaroejiji but this time, Mgbere’s enemies read the mood of Wike very well. They knew that Gov. Wike would fall if told that Stanley Mgbere was a prominent sympathizer for IPOB, and that the destruction of some houses in Onne was the handiwork of IPOB militants imported into Onne by Mgbere. That was what they sold to Wike who fell for it.
The Neighbourhood was unable to speak with any spokesman of the companies fingered in the bribery allegation despite efforts to do so. No member of the Onne Council of Chiefs loyal to HRM King J.D Osaronu, the Onneh Eh Eta Onne(paramount ruler) was willing to speak on the development.
However, a senior official in the Rivers State Government House rebutted the outcome of this newspaper’s findings saying that Gov. Wike would not have acted without proper legal and security reports at his disposal. “As a governor, he(Wike) receives security and legal reports and memos not open to the public, and in matters like this, he seeks informed security and legal advice before taking actions”, the source insisted. He told The Neighbourhood that Wike took the best decision for the interest of Rivers State.