•Says the Olu palace is built on Urhobo land
Chief Bigha also accused the Itsekiris of not participating in any agitation for a better living standards of the Niger Delta Region, while frowning at their constant exhibition of selfishness.
According to him : “It is worthy of note that the demands presented to the Vice President by the Itsekiri monarch were selfish ones, on like the ones presented by the Ijaws in Oporoza. For instance the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project has two components; the gas city at Ogidigben and the deep sea port at Gbaramatu. The Ijaws mentioned both, but the Itsekiris mentioned only the gas city. This is evidence of selfishness and self-centredness. Secondly, the demand for the establishment of a Naval base in escravos is a ploy to use the Navy to invade the people of Gbaramatu kingdom, in their move to continue to lay claims to Gbaramatu lands.” WIPMG asserted.
The group also noted that the land grabbing tendencies of the Itsekiris is not only directed to the Ijaws but to the Urhobos of Warri and Sapele in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State while describing them as perennial land grabbers that are only good at distraction.
The statement read in part: “We wish to react to the shameful claim of the Itsekiri monarch to the ownership of the site of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko. Ordinarily, we would not have ined issues with the baseless, frivolous and shameful presentation made to the vice president during his visit to Delta State, because almost everyone in this country, including the Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo knows the troublesomeness of the Itsekiris when it comes to the ownership of land in Delta State. But for the records, we wish to state as follows:
“Okerenkoko Community is the largest in terms of land mass and population as well as the third community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, which is the cradle of Ijaw origin historically.
“The Itsekiris has no land in Delta State as attested to by an Itsekiri son in early 20th century as contained in a certified true copy of intelligent report of Warri obtained at the National archives (Chief Dore Numa reply to the Warri Province Resident, upon a petition written by the Ogbe-Ijoh People, pages 1-4). Chief Numa Said in his letter that the Itsekiris have no land where they are occupying now, and that it was the colonial masters that forcefully took land from the Ijaws and the Urhobos and gave to them.” It noted.
Adding that “The land in which the Itsekiri palace is built in Warri town belongs to the Okere Urhobos, and they cannot deny this fact.
“Itsekiris have not participated in any agitation for a better living for the people of the Niger delta region, but they always benefit whenever the government pays attention to issues of development and participation in governance and oil business. They only know how to criticise and condemn processes that leads to negotiation and recognition by government. The Presidential Amnesty Programme and the recent visit by the vice president are points in case.
“As the Itsekiris lay claim to Gbaramatu kingdom and other Ijaw communities’ within Warri and environs, so also they lay claims to Urhobo lands in Warri and Okpe lands in Sapele and environs. So this land grabbing attitude of the Itsekiris is not only directed towards the Ijaws. And this is obvious that the Itsekiris are perennial land grabbers because they do not have lands in Delta State.
“May God help us as we perceived that the Itsekiris may plunge Warri and environs into another round of ethnic crisis with their baseless, fictitious, frivolous and shameful claims.” It said.
The Ijaw Monitoring Group have also condemned the request from the Olu’s palace for the building of a Naval base, alleging such is not necessary as it would only used to intimidate the Ijaws of Gbaramatu.