The Oghara Traditional Council in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta state, led by His Majesty, Noble Eshemitan Orefe lll, Ovie of Oghara Kingdom, has expressed displeasure over the handing over of a vast expanse of land belonging to them to the Nigerian Army by Olu of Warri, Ogiamme Atuwatse III.
Specifically, the Oghara Traditional Council insisted that the land in question located at Otegbo, which the Itsekiris call Obitugbo village belong to them and therefore cannot be giving out to the military by the Olu of Warri or any other person for that matter without their consent.
Consequently, the Oghara Traditional Council has protested to the Delta State Government seeking “appropriate action over the illegal and unlawful handing over of the vast expanse of land belonging to Oghara, by the Olu of Warri.”
The Oghara monarch and chiefs of the Oghara kingdom are also demanding “an immediate cessation of the actions and activities of these encroachments in whatever guise or coloration”.
The traditional rulers and leaders of thought in Oghara kingdom made the call and demands in a letter already despatched to the State Government and copied the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Abuja; the Commanding Officer, Nigerian Army, Koko; Office of the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja; the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, Abuja; the Inspector-General of Police, Abuja and the Director-General, State Security Service, Abuja, among others.
Copies of the letter were availed journalists during a protest by the traditional council at Otegbo on Tuesday.
The letter titled “Re: The illegal and unlawful handing over of vast expanse of land belonging to Oghara, at Otegbo (which the Itsekiri call Obitugbo) village to the Nigerian army by his Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse lll, the Olu of Warri” insisted that the ownership of lands located at Ajagbodudu and Otegbo villages lie in the Urhobos of Oghara Kingdom in Ethiope West LGA.
According to the letter, the Urhobos of Oghara in Ethiope West LGA had earlier in one of their numerous petitions letters raised alarm of plans by the Itsekiris of Warri North LGA to establish a private University in the Oghara land territory of Otegbo.
“It was our unequivocal demand then, that all constructions and activities being carried out by the Itsekiris, particularly by one Mr. Godwin Ebosa, on any portion of the Oghara land territory of Otegbo be frozen in the interim, pending the findings and resolution by the Delta state boundary committee on the matter.
“It is on record that after the presentations made by Oghara to the Delta State Boundary Committee awaiting the Itsekiris to do same, the Itsekiris, in desperate pursuit of their expansionist tendencies, brazenly went ahead with their plans to purportedly site the proposed private University which they called the Warri University on the Oghara land territory of Otegbo as we had earlier alerted. notwithstanding the unconcluded investigations being conducted by the Delta State Boundary Committee, as directed by the Office of the Vice President”.
“Just about a week ago, our people were alarmed to hear over the electronic and print media, that His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwase ill, the Olu of Warri Kingdom, had offered and ceded a large expanse of Oghara land situated at Otegbo village to the Nigerian Army for the construction of a military barrack, in utter disregard for the unresolved dispute between the Urhobos and Itsekiris over the ownership of the lands at Ajagbodudu and Otegbo for which there is a subsisting judgment in favour of the people of Oghara Kingdom.
“The above scenarios clearly reveal the deliberate and consistent plot of the Itsekiris to illegally claim and occupy our Otegbo land.
“We have for a very long period prevailed on our people to eschew violence and tow the path of peace and legality unlike as has been witnessed in parts of Delta State where similar disputes are ongoing.
“However, with the current happenings, our people are now being pushed to the brink and it appears the Delta State Government is waiting for a conflagration and bloodshed for it to seriously address this volatile and burning issue.
“Let us state for the umpteenth time, that the people of Oghara shall not accept under any guise, the annexation of an inch of her territory as being orchestrated by the Itsekiris through this brazen action of their monarch because our people are seriously provoked and agitated by this act of the Itsekiris which could escalate the already tense situation into unimaginable proportion”.
“Thus, we strongly urge that the Itsekiris be called to order immediately in order to forestall a possible break down of law and order which we have avoided all these while and guarantee the peace of the area”.
“We demand an immediate cessation of the actions and activities of these encroachments in whatever guise or coloration”.
“Although we are at a loss as to the lethargy and unconcerned disposition of the Delta State Government to frontally address the issues once and for all, we express our confidence with reticence, that this prolonged matter will be given the urgent attention it rightly deserves”.
“While we anticipate this time, a prompt response from your Excellency and the Government of Delta State, please accept the assurances of our utmost regards”.