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Group to Itsekiri: Do away with anti-progress acts; emulate Ijaws, other ethnic groups

The Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group, WIPG, has called upon Itsekiris to do away with their anti-progress attitude and turn a new leaf by emulating other ethnic groups who have been working and advocating development of the Niger Delta region peacefully.

This is coming after Itsekiri National Youth Council, in its “Deghele declaration”, threatened war on all international oil companies, and other ethnic groups should they fail to vacate their supposed land.

In a statement signed by the group Chairman, Chief Patrick Bigha, which was made available to GbaramatuVoice in Warri, Chief Bigha wondered why the Itsekiri ethnic group decides to follow anti-development path rather than otherwise, adding that their trumped up history of first settlement in Warri and its environs no longer hold weight.

He said Itsekiri’s continuous reliance on frivolous and fraudulent judgement would continuously result in contention, stressing that litigation without dispute and rancour as well as judgement without enough evidence amount to fraud.

“That was how the Itsekiris obtained their judgement. The Ijaws are now aware of such tricks by the Itsekiris. This was why the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin (Appeal No. CA/B/228A/1997) dismissed the lower court judgement and called for retrial in the case between Sunny A. Tuoyo and others and Mr Godwin Akori and others, which the Itsekiris opposed and appealed at the Supreme court of Nigeria, which is still pending”, he added

Chief Bigha stressed further that the Itsekiris, in the history of Delta State, have not supported anything good coming to the state, rather they have been at the opposition side.

According to him, the same way the Itsekiris are opposing establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, was the same way they opposed the citing of the capital of Delta State in Warri.

The Chairman therefore challenged the Itsekiris to come forward with any proof or historical artifacts of the communities they claimed their supposed tenants lived.

He said, “The territories Ijaws are occupying today, because if they have lived there, there must be something peculiar to them that will stand out till date. For instance, the name Okerenkoko has appeared in many public institutions in the community including the Okerenkoko Primary School, Okerenkoko, founded in 1955.

“When and where did the name, Okerenghigho come in? There is no single Gbaramatu Community with a trace of Itsekiri origin, but there is Ijaw trace in Omadino (Amadino, meaning, Community fish pond, in Ijaw) as there is Ijaw compound (Ijaw Idumu) in the Community till date.”

He said the Ijaws have always initiated peaceful means to resolve issues with the Itsekiris over the years, recalling that the love for peace by the Ijaws made them entered a consent judgement of 1983 with the Itsekiris.

The statement read thus: “It has come to our notice that trouble is brewing in Warri and environs as a result of a declaration of war on the Ijaws and International Oil Companies (IOCs) by the Itsekiri National Youth Council.

“We wish to let the Itsekiris know that the era of violent agitation is over. They should follow the steps of the Ijaws who have been advocating for development of the Niger Delta region peacefully. The Ijaws have attracted projects meant to open up the region in recent time. They do not have cause to worry as the Ijaws will continue to be magnanimous and liberal to them as in the past. Even when Ijaw lands were given to them by the Colonial Masters when they migrated from Ode in present day Ogun State and Benin in Edo State to Warri and Its environs, as attested to by their own son and leader, Chief Dore Numa in 1923, as contained in the Warri Intelligent Report, the Ijaws did not make trouble with them. Maybe it is because of the peaceful disposition of the Ijaws that had led to the continuous land grabbing attitude of the Itsekiris.

“Let the Itsekiris know that their trumped up history of first settlement in Warri and its environs do not hold water again. They should know by now that the continuous reliance on frivolous and fraudulent judgement will continue to bring about contention because the Ijaws have waken up from slumber. A litigation without dispute and rancour as well as judgement without enough evidence amount to fraud. That was how the Itsekiris obtained their judgements. The Ijaws are now aware of such tricks by the Itsekiris. This was why the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin (Appeal No. CA/B/228A/1997) dismissed the lower court judgement and called for retrial in the case between Sunny A. Tuoyo and others and Mr Godwin Akori and others,  which the Itsekiris opposed and appealed at the Supreme court of Nigeria, which is still pending.

“We wish to challenge the Itsekiris to come forward with any proof or historical artefacts that they lived in the communities the Ijaws are occupying today, because if they have lived there, there must be something peculiar to them that will stand out till date. For instance, the name Okerenkoko has appeared in many public institutions in the community including the Okerenkoko Primary School, Okerenkoko, founded in 1955. When and where did the name, Okerenghigho came in? There is no single Gbaramatu Community with a trace of Itsekiri origin, but there is Ijaw trace in Omadino (Amadino, meaning, Community fish pond, in Ijaw) as there is Ijaw compound (Ijaw Idumu) in the Community till date.

“As regards the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, it was an Itsekiri son, the then governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan that revoked and published the revocation notice in a national daily (Vanguard Newspapers) and the Delta State owned newspaper, The Pointer, in September 25, 2013, for the information of the general public that whoever has a claim to make should do so within six working weeks. The name used was Okerenkoko. It was only the Okerenkoko people-the rightful owners of the said land that made claims and they were paid for economic trees and fish ponds destroyed in the process of acquisition.

“The Ijaws have always initiated peaceful means to resolve issues with the Itsekiris over the years. We have even entered a consent judgement of 1983 with them for peace to reign where we have both enjoyed patronage from International Oil Companies as they pay royalties to the Ijaws too.

“Let the Itsekiris drop this attitude of working against development in our region. It is a known truth in Delta State that the Itsekiris have not supported anything good coming to the area as it has been their attitude to oppose good things that come to the area. The same way they opposed the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, is the same way they opposed the citing of the Capital of Delta State in Warri, and it was cited in faraway Asaba, to the detriment of the core delta people. Now It takes three to four hours to travel to our state capital”.

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