The Ijaw Youth Congress, Worldwide (IYC), has insisted that the Ijaws in Edo state are not settlers in their communities, but rather, they actually own all the areas they are presently occupying.
The socio-political group is reacting to a statement made by the Binis, which appeared in some national dailies on Tuesday.
The Binis in the statement titled; ‘We have no land to cede to Ijaw, Benin Leaders insist’, have said that the Binis are the rightful owners of the five communities being occupied by the Ijaws.
The traditional ruler of Obazuwa, Prince Edun Akenzua, has tagged Ijaws’ claim of ownership of the lands as “bold and audacious.”
However, in a swift reaction to the statement, the Ijaw youths in a counter statement signed and released by its president, Eric Omare, described the Binis public claims as baseless, provocative and misleading.
The statement knocks the claims of the Binis of a court order, which it alleged, has pronounced them as the rightful owners of the disputed land areas.
The statement reads in part; “The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC) Worldwide has been drawn to a statement with the above caption and published in several national newspapers on Tuesday the 13th of February, 2018.
“In the said publication, arising from a meeting of Bini leaders, priests, chiefs and other stakeholders, it was reported that the Binis resolved not to cede any part of Bini land to Ijaw.
“The Binis claimed ownership of the lands the Edo-Ijaw people of Egbema, Furupagha, Gbarain, Olodiama and Okomu are settled on the basis of a 1983 Supreme Court judgment.
“The IYC has decided to respond considering the baseless, provocative and misleading nature of the publication.
“The Ijaws made aboriginal claims on the land and mentioned the five communities involved.
“The Edo Ijaw people of Egbema, Furupagha, Olodiama, Gbarain and Okomu Kingdoms are indigenous to the land where they are settled,” continues the statement.
“They are not settlers on Bini land, but indigenes in the lands and communities where they are settled on.
“There was no 1983 Supreme Court judgment which awarded the lands of the Edo-Ijaw people in the five different Kingdoms to the Bini people. The Bini reference to court judgment as a basis to claim Ijaw land in Edo State is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public to justify their false claim.”
While flaying the comments credited to one Senator Matthew Urhonigbe, who represents the Edo South Senatorial District in the Senate and the traditional ruler of Obazuwa, Prince Edun Akenzua, the IYC averred that while the senator has lost his privilege to represent the Ijaws in the hallowed chambers, the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki should call Prince Akenzua to order, over what it alleged to be an “provocative and inciting statement.”
“The IYC, strongly condemn the Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Senator Matthew Urhonigbe for his reckless statement in calling Ijaw people settlers in Edo State. Senator Urhonigbe by his careless comment has lost the right to represent the Ijaw people in the national assembly.
“The IYC is of the opinion that the persistent unfounded claims of the Bini people to Ijaw land is simply because the Ijaws of Edo state are in a Bini-dominated political unit. We therefore reiterate our call for a separate political unit for the Ijaw people of Edo state, as a permanent solution to these persistent and conflicting claims between the Ijaws and their Bini neigbours.
“While Prince Akenzua has questioned the rationale for the Ijaws to agitate for the installation of a Pere on Bini land, the IYC demands for the process to be accelerated.
“We also reaffirm our call on Governor Godwin Obaseki to call Prince Edun Akenzua, the traditional ruler of Obazuwa to order for his provocative and inciting comments against Ijaws in Edo state while reaffirming our call on him to accelerate the process of giving the staff of office to the Ijaw traditional rulers in Edo State.”
An informed resident of the state, in an interview with GbaramatuVoice said that the Bini and Ijaw in parts of the state have been having land disputes, which if not properly handled, could lead to crisis in the state.
“The state government has to find a solution to this ugly situation, fast before it degenerates to a full conflict,” he warned.