Trouble is brewing in Odi community in Bayelsa State over Federal Govfernment N15bn compensation money paid to the community as directed by the court. The Odi youths have all gone wild over information that lawyers have had to deduct Billions at source. This news prompted the Odi youths, in Kolokuma/Opokuma community of Bayelsa State, on Saturday,to attacked the Deputy Traditional Head of the Community, Chief Ebitimi Karuiru, and other indigenes over their alleged involvement in the botched sharing of the N15 billion compensation paid by the Federal Government for the 1999 military invasion of Odi.
The amount was paid last month by the Federal Government in compliance with the order of the Court that N35 billion be paid as compensation for the invasion and destruction caused by the Military under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was gathered that 40 percent of the initial N15billion was deducted at source by a consortium of lawyers engaged by the community. Angered by the development, youths, according to reports, descended on homes of some prominent elders of the community for their roles in the alleged disappearance of over N600million, which they claimed was deducted by the Odi Invasion Case Committee headed by some prominent indigenes as payment for their efforts to secure the compensation.
Chief Karouiru was attacked at his home in Odi with machete and his car set ablaze. The Youths, who went naked, marched through the town demanding the heads of those identified as the beneficiaries of the missing N600million, including chiefs and notable government officials from the community.
An eyewitness told The Guardian that the naked youths moved to the community’s burial site and invoked curses on those accused of diverting the funds meant for families of the community.
As at the time of filing this report, a squadron of armed mobile policemen has been deployed to the community to maintain law and order. It was gathered that the protest was a response to the alleged diversion of funds by the Committee made up of signatories to the N15billion released by government. According to the source, signatories to the account are Chief of the Odi Community, Chief Sine Akpere, Professor Kobina Imananagha, Commander Koku Imananagha (rtd) and Koloigidi Aniso.
It was also revealed that 50 per cent (N300m) of the missing N600 million has already been recovered; while the other half is expected to be refunded by those in possession of the money.
The State Government, through the office of the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah, has demanded the list of the illegal beneficiaries of the missing money. Jonah reportedly held meetings with the community leaders through the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Col. Bernard Kenebai, and the Commissioner for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Komonibo.
A source at the meeting disclosed that “the issue of the sharing of the money has become a ‘poisoned Chalice’ to the community. If not for the intervention of the State, the Odi community would have burnt again. At the meeting convened by the State Government, it was agreed that representatives of the women and the youths should be included for wider representation.
“It was also agreed that the signatories should be changed, and N9 billion domiciled in a special account, pending the resolution of all the issues.” Agency report