Solar Project

Solar Project Workers Held Hostage By Community Leaders, Ransom Demanded

Solar project workers held hostage

OpenLife Nigeria has reliably gathered that tension is currently brewing in Oviri-Olomu Community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to fresh information made available to OpenLife, workers in a solar power project in the community have been held hostage ostensibly on the instruction of the President General of Oviri-Olomu Community, Olorogun John A. Ewenede.
According to the narrative, trouble started on Saturday, October 23, 2021, when they stormed the site and ordered the workers to stop work on the grounds that the President General requested for money to be paid to him and his executives in the name of “DEVE” being settlement before the work can go on.
The Supervisor handling the Project, Mr. Emmanuel Tochukwu, explained that following the threats including pressure from the youth leader, Mr. Stephen Urhobojevwe Ebrobota, his managing director, transferred N20,000 into an account: Account Name, Hyacinth Oghenemurhoko, First Bank Limited, Account No: 3085729347 that October 23.
The account details, according to him, were supplied by the community for the ransom to be paid for his workers to regain freedom after several hours of being held hostage.
He stated further that after making the payment, the same group of persons came back on Sunday, 24th October 2021 to demand another #30,000 which they say, my MD must still pay before my workers can start further work in the Community.
Tochukwu who is obviously disturbed about the level of exploitation and distractions said, “when the threat became too much, I placed a call to one Chief Jones Ipoko who happened to be the anchorman of the community in the Project to inform him about what was going on,” he narrated.
“They insisted that the money must be paid by my managing director and that without paying the money none of our workers will leave the site thereby holding my workers hostage for several hours on that day.”

Reacting, Mr. Stephen Urhobojevwe Ebrobota, the chairman of the youth wing in the community denied the allegations saying “It is a lie.”

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Speaking with OpenLife Wednesday evening, Ebrobota stated that engaging the community youths and leaders is a routine by any contractor that has any job to execute in the community.

According to him, “I am the chairman of the youth. What happened was that when the contractor came, we called our President General’s attention to it and he said that he was not aware of any contractor in the community to do solar job.
“We then approached them and enlightened them on what to do by engaging the community youths in the job. We told them we must be aware of who they are so that in case crises arise, we know how to protect them.
“Some of us accompanied them around the community and did some jobs like digging holes. That was the service they paid for. When they paid the N20,000, the youths shared the money. We did not hold anyone hostage,” he stated.
When contacted, the State Chairmen, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Senior Comrade Elder (Chief) A.P. Edariese confirmed the incident saying that Tochukwu has been in touch with him over the matter.


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