Crisis brews in Ondo over N150m oil spill largesse

…villagers flee as houses destroyed

A crisis is looming in the coastal community of Aiyetoro, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, as no fewer than four houses have been destroyed by some hoodlums over the sharing of N150m paid to the community by Mobil Oil Unlimited Company as compensation for an oil spill that occurred in 1998.

While several persons have fled the community for fear of being attacked, even as some warring youths have asked some of the community leaders involved in sharing of the money to vacate the community.

The palace of the Ogeloyinbo of Aiyetoro, Michah Ajijo, including property worth millions of naira were destroyed by aggrieved residents in the community.

Recall that Ajijo was rescued by some naval officers a few days ago following the invasion of his palace by some hoodlums and taken out of the community for safety.

But while speaking with journalists on Wednesday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the Asiwaju of Aiyetoro community, Gani Ojagbohunmi, accused a rival leader in the community, of orchestrating the attack.

Ojagbohunmi said over 80 houses were destroyed in the community in 2018 due to a leadership tussle between Oluwanbe and the recognised ruler, Ajijo.

Read also: Edo refinery orders 150,000 barrels of oil from Oza field to meet demand

He denied that the N150m oil spill largesse was misappropriated, saying that all identified beneficiaries were paid including the supporters of Oluwanbe. According to him, those that shared the money included traditional rulers in the locality, people affected by the spillage who organised themselves into cooperatives, donors and litigants.

He explained that the monarch set up a small committee leadership to oversee the distribution of the compensation to the beneficiaries in line with the previously agreed arrangement and formula.

He said, “the majority of the people entitled to the money in his group ignored his directive and went ahead to collect their money. We have records of people in his dissident group who already collected their entitlements.

“We cannot see any justification for resorting to violence, threat to life and destruction of valuable properties of the leader of the community and other indigenes of the community.

“We demand that the government should go further than that to prevent further destruction of properties and harassment of innocent people through mobilization of Mobile Police Force and other security agents to Aiyetoro Community to maintain law and order.”

But some members of the community loyal to Oluwanbe denied chasing Ajijo away from the community saying they were at the palace to demand an account of the money paid since 2021.

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