The excitement that greeted yesterday’s 46th birthday anniversary lecture in honour of embattled ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) in absentia, was disrupted following the factional crisis rocking the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC.
The event, at Okuemi Hotels, Warri, Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State, had gone half way, when some youths broke into the crowded hotel hall, shouting that armed youths were shooting and approaching the event venue. The seated guests were still trying to fathom who could the shooting in an event to honour Tompolo when the irate youths broke into the hall, fighting each other with dangerous weapons, including broken bottles and machetes. It was gathered that the fracas which unsettled the guests, who started leaving in droves, was as a result of an attempt by the unwelcome IYC faction opposed to the recently elected Eric Omare-led leadership to force their way into the event. The ensued commotion degenerated to sporadic shooting around the event centre with returned fire from mobile policemen on guard, who needed reinforcement before dispersing the violent elements at the scene, but not before some journalists lost their personal effects in the melee. Omare, special guest on the occasion, when contacted, said, “I don’t have details of what transpired minutes ago, but if they (the invaders) happened to be IYC members, I apologise for that, but I need to confirm if indeed they were IYC members. “If factional IYC members tried coming in to disrupt an event to honour Tompolo, it is condemnable because they ought to know that Tompolo represents peace and they ought to conduct themselves in orderly manner.” But the Mr Oweilaemi Pereotubo faction, accused Omare of attacking his supporters with thugs, at the venue, while Omare, denied the allegation said, “It is not true that I sent thugs to attack anybody. They came to force their way into the hall to rob and were repelled. I tell you, they are miscreant not I jaw youths.” He added that he was rightly seated at the hall as the IYC President when the attack happened. Pereotubo had alleged that it was surprising and unthinkable that Omare could descend so low and asked thugs loyal to him to waylay peace loving Ijaw youths that went to celebrate with well meaning Nigerian over the birthday of our great hero Tompolo. He urged IYC youths not to take the law into their hands by retaliation stressing that the Council will meet to take a position on the matter.