AKHERE Godwin, Benin
The traditional ruler of Sasaro in the Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State, HRH Azutorome Unuaikhazor, has denied reports that a missing police rifle was found in his bedroom, insisting that he actually retrieved the rifle from youths in the area and had kept it safe for the police.
The monarch also condemned the recent attack on a quarry site by some youths from the community over the death of an employee who is also an indigene.
Speaking to journalists in his palace, Unuaikhazor maintained that quarry companies operating in his community have “very cordial relationship” with his community.
“Is it not the press that is spreading the rumour? It is the press that is spreading a rumour to destroy me, such thing never happened in Sasaro clan, except there is another Sasaro clan elsewhere.
“The action of the police led one of the angry youths to collect the gun from the policemen and made away with it. I was informed that the police riffle was missing, so I came out of my palace and started shouting that these youths should not invite trouble to Sasaro clan. I was shouting that whoever was with gun should return it to me.
“Later, I saw a young man coming with the gun. It was my wife that led him to the kitchen where the gun was kept safely. I know the implication of illegal possession of fire arms, that was why I went about calling for the gun. That same evening, at about 7pm the DPO and his team came to my palace to report the missing gun. I told them that it has been found. I personally led him to the kitchen where we kept it and gave it to them.
“The DPO appreciated me and left with his men. The following day, I was told that the Edo State Police Commissioner has heard about the incident and that he is inviting me to come to Benin. I went to Benin to meet him, after discussing with him, a discussion that was not up to an hour, I left for Sasoro.”
On the attack on the company by some of his subjects, he said: “If the youths had listened to me by now, they would have been the winners getting compensation from the company, the company will bury the young man and also make peace reign. Instead, some have been arrested, some are on the run. But our relationship with the company has been very cordial. There has been smooth relationship between us and our tenant. We have a good number of our children working with them there. Some are full time, while others are on contract.”
The monarch however criticized the company the way it handled the late worker which infuriated the youths to attack.
“I was informed by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Tony Rock Quarry Company, a Lebanese company sited here in Sasaro community that a native who also is an employee of the company, died in the artificial lake of the company. He told me that when they rushed the body to a private hospital in Igarra, the doctor confirmed the body dead. He told me that he has taken the corpse to the boy’s family before coming to inform me of the incident. He asked me what should the compensation and burial would look like. I told him to go and settle the deceased family. While we were still discussing, I saw a good number of our Sasaro youths coming towards my palace, so I came out to meet them and inquired from them what the problem was.
“They told me that the Lebanese company killed their fellow and went to dump the remains with his family. I pleaded that they be calm and let the elders handle the issue. Before I could know what was happening, they started destroying the company’s vehicle that the PRO used to take the deceased to the family, the car was parked at my palace. They threw stones and objects at the vehicle and during the process, a stone flew and hit my own car’s windscreen and destroyed it.”