Monday, August 26, 2013

Ozekhome: Community embarks on dry fast, as traditional rulers appeal for release

A visit to Iviukwe in Weppawanno kingdom in Etsako East Local
Government Area of Edo State, yesterday, ancestral home of abducted
human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, showed a community in
mourning as both Muslims and Christians embarked on dry fast over the
This came on a day Human Rights Defenders Organisation of Nigeria,
HURDON, urged the police not to give up in its efforts to track down
thekidnappers of the human rights lawyer and his driver who were
abducted last Friday.
The abduction of the Asebigwe (the one that every one listens to) of
Weppawanno Kingdom and the Akpakpavighidighi of Edo State came asa
rude shock to members of the community.
When Vanguard visited the community, yesterday, it was observed that
people stayed at home, hoping and praying to hear of his release.
Chief Ozekhome was abducted by suspected kidnappers last Friday
whileon his way to the village, after they killed four police officers
who came tohis rescue him and his driver.
Vanguard observed fear on the faces of the elders and relations of the
human rights lawyer as they refused to speak to the press, fearing
that their comments might provoke his captors.
Elder brother of the kidnapped Senior Advocate of Nigeria, High Chief
Pius Ozekhome, was with elders when Vanguard visited but he declined
comments on the issue.
But Vanguard observed the pains the family is passing through from his
countenance. Vanguard was informed that the Christians in the
community had embarked on a seven-day dry fast, while the Muslims
alsocommenced theirs, praying that God should touch his captors to set
him free.
The paramount traditional ruler of Weppawanno Kingdom, Dr. George
Oshiaapi Egabor, the Okumagbe of Weppawanno Kingdom, who looked
troubled, revealed to Vanguard that the people of his kingdom were
devastated by the development.
He appealed to the captors to consider the fact that Chief Ozekhome
wasa lawyer who had been working for the downtrodden in the country.
He said: "We are appealing that they release him for us unhurt . He
is aperson that has contributed to the growth of our community and has
helped our sons and daughters in various capacities.
"We pray that God should touch their hearts by listening to our plea
because he is one man we all love so much because of his concern for
the poor and his dedication to the service of humanity.
"It is difficult to say much now but we are only appealing to them to
release our son."
Narrating how the community received the news at the family house of
two- time former chairman of Etsako East Local Government Council,
Stanley Odidi, the paramount ruler said: "We received the news when
thepolice told the wife that they had found one of his telephones in
his car as they scrolled the contacts and found the wife's number.
"So they now called the wife to confirm that it was his car and that
was how they broke the news to us in the village. The wife was in
"Our brother is a grassroots person, he give assistance to the poor,
marketwomen, youths periodically, in fact, many of our people are
saying they should come and carry them and leave Ozekhome. We have
embarked on dry fasting in the community and our Muslim brothers are
also doing theirown.
" You can see that every where is unsually calm in this community
because of the incident, that will tell you that we don't play with
Chief Ozekhome. I have never seen any community that is praying as
much as we are doing right now."

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