Members of Ulegun Community in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, have appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki for justice over the illegal demolition of their property by Chiefs from the palace of the Oba of Benin, led by Frank Irabor, in August last year.
The protesters, who besieged Government House, GRA, on Monday, complained that they feared they might not get a fair deal over the matter because of the delays in handling their case by relevant agencies of Government.
Chief of Staff to the governor, Hon Osaigbovo Iyoha, who received the protesters on behalf of the State Governor, urged them to exercise patience as efforts are being made to legally settle the matter.
According to him, "You protested to Government House sometime ago and immediate action was taken. Some people were arrested. You have also said that some of you were called to the Ministry of Justice to understand what the issues are. That tells you that we have not taken this matter lightly from day one.“
The issue is very heart-breaking. Your people have been reaching us and we have been talking to them. You will all agree with me that violence is never a way to do things and I must appreciate you for your endurance. You have handled yourselves maturely. When a man is robbed of his shelter, you have taken everything away from the man. But in your case, you have been patient in your response."
He added, “I want to beg you. His Excellency has intervened in this issue. I will also get in touch with the Justice Department to know how far they have gone with this issue because over 80 houses were destroyed; that is over 80 families.”
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Pastor Joseph Iroghama, said, "We thank the governor for his swift action last year. A committee was set up. They assured us that we will get a response very shortly.
“We have waited longer than we think our patience can take. We have been law abiding and have not attacked Frank Irabor directly or indirectly since our buildings were demolished.
“We are asking the listening governor who fights against injustice to please use his office as the number citizen of Edo State to come to our aid for our buildings to be restored."
Another protester, Austin Osaro, said, “It has been more than 8 months since our properties were destroyed by Frank Irabor. They are yet to rebuild the properties and we have been left to suffer untold hardship. Scavengers have taken away all the valuable metals and aluminium from the destroyed properties.
“The government pleaded with us to maintain peace, which we have done. We have been going to court but justice is yet to be served. That is why we are here to plead that Frank Irabor and his cohorts are not left off like that.”