There are indications that the crisis which lead to the arrest and detention of Mr. Frank Irabor, Secretary to the Benin Traditional Council and six other persons, including some Benin Chiefs, may be resolved through alternative dispute resolution.
Barring any last minute changes, Frank Irabor and others who were remanded in prison by the court will regain freedom today, September 8, 2022.
Previleged sources confided in Midwest Herald that the Edo State Government had accepted a request from the palace to mediate and subsequently set modality in motion for direct talk between the petitioners and the palace to peacefully resolve the unfortunate incident.
Midwest Herald can authoritatively report that, discussions have started between the contending interests in the Ulegun land palaver that led to the demolition of several buildings in the community on August 29, 2022.
A fallout of the ongoing solution finding arrangement may lead to the transfer of Irabor as Secretary, from the Benin Traditional Council to the parent Ministry.
Our investigation shows that, the Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe is believed to have secured the assurances of Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki to intervene on behalf of the palace to find soft landing for Frank Irabor and others, as well as simmer the crisis that has become a national embarrassement.
At the time of this report, agreements have been reached with Ulegun Enogie and elders and they are satisfied with the settlement plan and in turn, pledged their loyalty to Edo State Government and the Oba Palace.
It will be recalled that the police docked the aforementioned persons on September 1, 2022, after they were accused of demolishing over 60 houses in Ulegun Community, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, after it received a petition from a law firm, Neplus Ultra Partners and Co, “against Osayande Godwin Aigbe (Enogie of Ukhiri 1), Frank Irabor(Secretary of Benin Traditional Council), Chief Ukobo, Chief Ogiesughe and “their cohorts for unlawful demolition of over 60 completed buildings.”
According to the police, some of the demolished buildings are said to be occupied by their owners. The action, the petitioner claimed are “very serious criminal breach of peace, criminal intimidation, thuggery, threat to life and criminal trespass.”
The total cost was estimated to be above five hundred million Naira (N500,000,000.00) in value and most of the properties are alleged to belong to diasporan investors. On the strength of the petition, Edo State Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro, detailed operatives of the command to carry out an investigation to bring the culprits to book immediately.
“Seven suspects were arrested namely; Chief Oko-Oboh Ebosele, Aghavbere Osawemwenguan, Abel Oko-Oboh, Tuesday Atagamene, Okechukwu Okeke, Ode Uloko and Frank Irabor.
“The suspects were thoroughly investigated and charged to court on 1st September, 2022, for a remand hearing on a six-count charge which includes; Conspiracy under Sec 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004;
Without authority did carry out a war-like undertaking against a band of citizens of Ulegun Community in Benin City and thereby committed an offence punishable under Sec 42 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria; felony to wit forceful takeover of land and thereby committed an offence punishable under Sec 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria; forcible entry and thereby committed an offense contrary to Sec2(1) and punishable under Sec2(3) of the Edo State Private Properties Protection law, 2017; malicious damage and thereby committed an offence under Sec 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and willful and unlawful damage of about 60 houses belonging to different persons at Ulegun Community and thereby committed an offense punishable under sec 451 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.” The police image maker explained in a release.
CP Abutu Yaro, also directed “every impacted victim to remain calm and law-abiding while due process of the law” was already emplaced to ensure transperacy, fairness and justiceable conclusion of this matter.