For participating in a protest alongside indigenes of Ikpide-Irri riverine community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State in August against the N736.4 million road contract awarded his marine company, Portplus Limited, by the Delta State Government, Immanuel Emoefe, Chairman of Portplus, has ordered the rearrest of one Endurance Ukpethu.
Following the Wednesday rearrest of Ukpethu, it was gathered that a renewed crisis is said to be brewing as youth in the community have vowed to stop the controversial project until the suspect is released.
They have also issued a strong warning to the contractor and his elder brother, who is the President General of the community, Michael Omojefe, to desist from oppressing and intimidating members of the community.
In July 2018, residents of Ikpide-Irri community and the Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG) had protested against the usage of substandard materials in the execution of the project by the contractor, and Ukpethu had been arrested for his connection with the incident.
In August 2018, James Aguoye, the Delta State Commissioner for Works, had affirmed that substandard work had been executed on the project.
SaharaReporters gathered that the contractor allegedly connived with the Oleh Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Isah Hassan, his brother, Michael Omojefe, his brother-in-law, a former lawmaker in the state, Ross Uredi, one Pius Otolo and the member representing Isoko South 1 in the state House of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, to effect Ukpethu’s rearrest on Wednesday night.
Speaking to our correspondent, Ukpethu’s relative confirmed that his arrest was connected with the July protest embarked on in the community against the substandard job being executed by Portplus Limited.
Noting that series of threats had been issued to him before he was eventually arrested, the family member accused the contractor, CSP Hassan, Omojefe, Otolo and Uredi of being responsible.
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the Police officers from the Inspector General of Police office in Abuja, who preferred not to be named, said the arrest followed a petition by the contractor’s elder brother.
He said: “The president general’s petition was written with the community letterhead and signed by him. Initially, we questioned him on why the community secretary general was not included in the signing the petition. He gave excuses here and there, and we knew something was wrong somewhere. We must do our job, so we went for the arrest.”
Reacting to the development, a former chairman in the community who asked not to be named for fear of being arrested as well, condemned said: “Endurance was first arrested by the Oleh DPO who was used and later demanded for N300,000 for his bail, until some persons intervened and he was released on bail without a dime. That was in August. Then a few weeks later, the DPO was financially induced again by his contractor and rearrested Endurance. Through some persons again, he was immediately released on bail when it was obvious that his arrest was politically motivated and out of oppression and intimidation.
“As if that was not enough, just on Wednesday, he was rearrested, this time by a team from the IGP office in Abuja and was taken to Asaba on the frivolous allegation of causing unrest. They also referred to a missing engine boat that was kept in his custody by the local government council and was stolen since 2015 and has since been resolved. However, because he stood against the substandard job being done by Portplus limited, the contractor and their cohorts benefitting from the poor quality job tagged him an enemy.”
A top government official in the state, who spoke in confidence with SaharaReporters, called on the contractor to handle the issue with utmost caution.
He said: “I don’t know why Emma is doing all this again when the state governor through the commissioner for works has put this issue to rest. This will definitely cause him major damage if not properly handled, because I can authoritatively tell you that it’s going to be a can of worms for him. Yes, before now he was known by his real name, Emmanuel Omojefe but all of a sudden he changed his names to Immanuel Emoefe and this is what the concerned indigenes are questioning.
“Please don’t quote me, though it was alleged that due to some controversial shady deals, his real name was changed from the Emmanuel Omojefe we used to know him to Immanuel Emoefe. I was reliably informed that some concerned indigenes in the community have contacted lawyers who are putting up petitions to relevant authorities in government to explain his source of wealth among others.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the development, a representative of Portplus Limited, who said he was not authorised to comment on the controversial issue on behalf of the company, said all the defects observed in the contract have been noted and shall be taken care of as soon they mobilise back to site in continuation of the contract.
At the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the policemen for the IGP’s office treated the suspect professionally.
SaharaReporters, New York