Utomi and Rewane pull out of Itsekiri Economic Summit after being threatened by its opponents

YESTERDAY'S Itsekiri Economic Summit in Delta State had to proceed without two of its main speakers Bismarck Rewane and Professor Pat Utomi as they had to withdraw from the event after being threatened by those opposed to the event.


As part of a drive to debate ways to develop Itshekiriland, the organisers had arranged for the summit to take place in the oil-rich city of Warri. Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, the Igba of Warri, the inspiration behind the summit organised by the National Association of Itsekiri Graduates (Naig), said it had to be called off because certain prominent local people sabotaged the event.


He accused Prince Yemi Emiko and Chief Ayiri Emami of masterminding scare tactics which led to a double change of venue, which deterred Mr Bismarck and Professor Utomi from coming to the event. However, a prominent member of the Olu in Council of  Warri Kingdom challenged the accusers to leave Prince Yemi out of it, saying that the palace urged the organisers to postpone the event.


Chief Lori-Ogbebor, said: “It is heartbreaking that interests close to the palace were at the centre of trying to thwart a well thought gathering by the younger generation, taking the initiative from the failures of our elders to address the common problem of the drift into the culture of few Itsekiris stealing the people’s commonwealth. Incidentally, some of these same forces who had impoverished Iwereland in the midst of plenty are the ones who have tried to drag His Majesty into the mud over the bad politics of the Itshekiri Regional Development Council (IRDC) where billions of naira had disappeared.


"We are in court to recover all as they have failed to stop our right to sue them for every penny stolen and the Inspector General of Police had frozen N2.1bn in the IRDC accounts. Now, we want to brainstorm on collective blueprint to use these funds and other Iwere resources to develop the land and Utomi and Bismarck told me they were called that their safety could not be guaranteed if they come."


He added that the saboteurs also threatened the management of the two different venues not to allow them hold the event. Naig president Collins Edema, said he felt fulfilled, however, as the event satisfactorily achieved its objective of sensitising Itsekiris, who feel the brunt of under-development and deprivation.