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OKOWA’S GOVERNMENT BY THUGGERY, INTIMIDATION OF DELTA POPULACE: A CASE OF UDU LGA

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By Zik Gbemre

Delta state administration under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will go into the record books as the most oppressive in the annals of the state. And the majority of the Delta populace choking from the reign of impunity characterised by extreme thuggery, extortions and lawlessness being deployed by Okowa can’t wait to have the incumbent governor exits office.

It amazes me how a very informed politician, a trained medical expert, who has built an enduring political career through the years would saturate his administration with nonentities, morons, and thugs as choices of political aides and confidants.

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James Ibori and his cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan were once governors. Though they engaged area boys in their time, Delta never had it so bad as it was under Okowa now.

On daily basis, these thugs boasting of Okowa’s approval, exert all forms of intimidation on the populace in the guise of Revenue Task Forces, in major Delta cities.

If they are not checking vehicle particulars and impounding perceived defaulter’s cars, they are invading shops/restaurants of struggling business owners demanding all sorts of illegal levies, killing businesses and livelihoods.

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Because Okowa encourages the government by thuggery so much, the local champions he imposed as Local Government chairmen are emboldened to duplicate his government by thuggery and extortions.

In no locality, as Udu LGA is the reign of terror by thugs/morons more profound in Delta under Jite Brown as Chairman. With Jite boys on a rampage, nobody knows what constitutes extortion attracting offences in Udu LGA anymore.

Monday afternoon specifically on 25th April 2022, it was an Ughievwen (Jeremi) born impressive Delta journalist and Port Harcourt Correspondent of Vanguard, Egufe Yafugborhi that had a bitter experience with the Jite Brown boys, a gang of ruffians, who move about on Keke, losing number plates of vehicles for various fabricated traffic offences attracting imposed fines.

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Egufe had cleared very safely from the main road, obstructing no vehicular movement, to go and get drugs in a popular Orhuwhorun road Pharmacy. Within minutes as he returned, the thugs had loosed the number plate of his Benz C-Class, leaving a barely legibly written number on a sticker tape, on one of the car windows.

Upon calling the number (registered true caller “My Guy My Guy”) and being directed to the Udu DSC Express Way uncompleted building serving as their not signposted office, you are greeted by various imposed fines laminated in a sheet of paper, between N3,500 and N15,500 which gullible, intimidated supposed defaulters are expected to pay to regain their vehicle number plates.

Inside the rusty office were several vehicle number plates, including those of bikes and Kekes, as well as impounded motorbikes and Kekes waiting for the perceived offenders to come to claim their vehicle, each with the amount imposed for a declared offence. Meanwhile at the spot where Egufe’s vehicle was robbed of his number plates were several other automobiles, including Kekes which the gang didn’t bother about.

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As proof that the Jite Brown’s thugs are involved in lawlessness, they release number plates belonging to lawyers or perceived defaulters who show up with lawyers unconditionally. If they are not being lawless why apply double standards, and selective extortion.

This Udu is the same LGA where traders occupy and induce heavy gridlock at the Udu Express Junction, Jigbale market, Ubogo Market as well and no one of these thugs of the taskforce is ever there to impound trader’s wares, for deliberately claiming the right of way on and disrupting traffic. It is to unleash terror by removing number plates for vague offences that Jite Brown’s thugs exert their intimidation.

More vexing is the fact that the council chairman is hardly accessible. He would not get in touch after several hours when the victim would have retrieved his missing number plates.
I drove to the touts office near Ekete Junction, along the Udu DSC Expressway to plead to release the vehicle after I called Jite Brown on phone more than ten times with no response at that time hence I drove there.

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Jite Brown has abdicated his Council Chairmanship duties, fixated on preparing to go for House of Assembly in 2023.

So I ask the question, how can we elect people to oppress us. This is a sad narrative. These are the same key actors who complain about the absence of investments. How will a prospective investor faced with the reign of violence and extortion contemplate investing in such an unsafe climate?

As long as Okowa encourages government by thuggery and extortion, Jite Brown and others at the helms in urban LGAs especially would continue to terrorise the people with illegal levies.

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I pity the young men engaged to do the dirty jobs believing it is the best way to earn a living. I advised them that this is not the way to live.

I urge them that if the Delta Government means well, they should provide a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive just as we see in Lagos for them to be engaged in lawful livelihood and not these illegal extortions.

Deltans must be careful who they choose to govern them. It should not be business as usual. Say no to the government of the uninformed violent politicians.

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Zik Gbemre, a public affairs analyst and social critics writes from Warri

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