The people of Ugborodo Community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state have once again reiterated that they have never been under the lordship of the Olu of Warri Kingdom, calling on President Muhammadu Bahuri to disregard any claim by ‘those who call themselves Leaders of Thought in the Community’.
The community made this position known in a peaceful protest held in the community at the weekend, saying that at no time were they part of the Olu of Warri kingdom, as they do not have any Chief from Ugborodo kingdom that forms part of the Chiefs in the palace of the Olu of Warri and that they do not have any land in Ode-Itsekiri, the ancestral home of the Itsekiri people.
The Ugborodo Community Council of Elders had in a statement signed by 27 members of the Ugborodo Council of Elders refuted two open letters (advertorials), addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, published in one of the national dailies saying that Ugborodo community is part and parcel of Warri Kingdom under the overlordship of the Olu of Warri.
But in a swift reaction by the people of Ugborodo community, who streamed out in their hundreds to protest what they termed as “slavery” by the palace of the Olu of Warri kingdom, they said they could no longer tolerate the level of alleged injustice being done to them by the Palace of the Olu.
Some of the placards carried by the people during the peaceful protest read, “Ugborodo Kingdom is not part of Olu of Warri”, “Governor Okowa, Ugborodo People Are Not Against Your Government”, “There Are No Kidnappers, Murderers, Criminals In Ugborodo Kingdom”, “Ugborodo Must Move Forward”, “We Have Different Kingdoms Such As Ugborodo Kingdom, Gbaramatu Kingdom And Warri Kingdom”, “Governor Okowa Please Help Us Recover Funds Meant For The Development Of Ugborodo Kingdom From Chief Ayiri Emami”, etc.
Hon. Thomas Metseagharun, the Toritsemogha of Ugborodo community, who spoke to journalists during the peaceful protest said they were against the slavery of their people by some few people in Warri, who had resorted to calling them all sorts of unprintable names in order to destroy them, adding that Ugborodo community was an autonomous community under the leadership of Olaja-Orori.
“We are protesting the slavery of our people by some few people in Warri. How can we have this mighty project in our land and we are living in abject poverty?
“Yet some people in Warri are calling us armed robbers, kidnappers, bunkerers and all sorts of names. Can this crowd you are seeing here be bunkerers?
“We have all the various security men here and they can attest to the fact we are peace-loving. How can we have Chevron Nigeria Limited in our community, yet we are suffering? There is nothing to show that we have an oil company here in our community.
“Ugborodo is an autonomous community. We have been in existence since 13 AD. It is the oldest community in this area and we are not under anybody. The leadership of this community is under the leadership of the Olaja-Orori, under the leadership of Benson Dube Omadeli. Because of the wealth found in this community, people outside started calling us all types of negative names. There are some people who are hell bent on destroying this community.
“We are fighting against these agents of destruction and destabilisation, and we are saying that we can no longer allow people to use us again. All the people fighting us are not living in this community. You cannot change who we are. We know that we originated from Ode in Ijebu land. We are from the Yoruba lineage,” Hon Metseagharun said.
He added, “We have always been an autonomous community and so nobody should use politics to curtail or oppress us. The Ugborodo people have no shoreline in Ode-Itsekiri and neither do we have any Chief in the Olu’s Palace, yet they want to cow us into joining them.
“Ugborodo land is about 32 kilometres. We have never been part of the Olu of Warri Kingdom. But some people are trying to stand on the rule of law to say they are backed by a court judgement that was presided over by three people from the same family.”
On her part, a member of the community, Mrs. Felicia Gbobi, who also spoke to journalists lamented that the Olu of Warri has allegedly used security personnel to chase them out of their community, adding that ever since they started rejecting the lordship of the Olu of Warri kingdom, the people have not been able to sleep with their two eyes closed.
“I am a young woman, but I have been around for more than five decades now and my mother is still alive. Ugborodo has never been part of Olu of Warri. They want to use security men to intimidate us and we can no longer sleep with our eyes closed.
“Look at Chevron that has been operating here for decades, in spite of their presence we do not have food to eat, and our children do not have jobs.
“We want to appeal to the Federal Government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, to come to our rescue. We want them to come and rescue us from the hands of the Olu.
“We are a peace loving community who abide by all the laws of the land. We are not criminals, but traders who are trying to make a living. We are for APC and this is one of the reasons why they are after our lives. We don’t want to belong to PDP again,” Mrs. Gbobi added.
On his part, Apostle William Agbajor, accused some Chiefs from the Palace of the Olu of Warri of allegedly conniving with some people to deprive them of what rightly belonged to them, saying that most shore protection contracts meant for the community had been abandoned by these Chiefs.
“Before the advent of Warri Kingdom, Ugborodo community has been around. It was the late Ginuwa, who passed through this community in the 40s that claimed this land. Since their coming to this community, they have been terrorising and oppressing us. Since 1959, when oil was discovered here in large quantity, nothing has been done in this area. We do not have schools, hospitals, electricity, water and we are not given employment.
“Recently, the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought made some publications and claimed that they are the owners of this community because of a kangaroo court judgement they claimed to have. We will not accept that kangaroo judgement that says Ugborodo has been under the lordship of the Olu of Warri Kingdom.
“If what the leaders are saying is true, then what have they been doing with all the monies they have been collecting to develop the community? What happened to the shore protection project awarded to them during Obasanjo tenure? The late Olu abandoned that project. Recently, also, the contract to pile Arunton to Constain was abandoned.
“The shore protection contract from Ogidigben to Mandagho that was given to one of the chiefs in that palace was also abandoned after they have collected over 800 million naira from the state government. If they say they are truly Leaders of Thought, where were they when these monies were mismanaged?
“From the years they are quoting, 1921, many countries have gotten independence since then. We are saying enough is enough and that we can no longer take it. We want to be on our own. They came to meet us here. This territorial area was created by God Almighty for us. From here to Warri there are other kingdoms.
“Gbaramatu Kingdom which is behind us here, have their own king. Ogbe-Ijoh, Agbassa, Okere-Urhobo and other kingdoms are all in Warri. What have they done to all these kingdoms? They should leave us alone. Everyday they use soldiers to come and terrorise us here. What have we done? We already have soldiers, Navy and the police here, so why are they deploying more soldiers here?” he queried.