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TENSION!!! Binis are settlers in our land, we will defend our territory with our blood – Ijaw leaders

“We are ready to defend with the last drop of our blood for our kingdoms and kings”

The Ijaws in Okomu Kingdom,  Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State, yesterday, declared that. contrary to the claim by the Binis that they own all the land occupied by the Ijaw in the state, the Binis are actually the settlers in their land, vowing that they will use all they have to protect their territory.  

They accused Edo State government and the palace of the Oba of Benin of an attempt to   deny them of their ancestral rights and ownership of Okomu land.

The Ijaw then admonished Binis to read the historical background of the entire Ijaw land in Edo State as written by a Bini son, Dr Egharevba, adding that they will find out that the land belongs to the Ijaw.

Chief Sunday Ajele, the Fiyewei of Okomu Kingdom, explained the position of the Ijaw while speaking to journalists in Okomu.

He listed the moves to deny them their rights to include their denial of a  permanent seat on the Board of Directors of Okomu Oil and Rubber Plc, reportedly approved by the Presidency for Okomu Kingdom, the discriminatory employment policy against indigenes of Okomu in the last 40 years by the state government and the refusal of Osse Rubber Company, located in their land, to visit their host community because of pressure from the Edo government on the firm to recognise Udo, a neighbouring Benin settlement.


He said: “The administrative headquarters of Ovia South West Local Government Area, which controls Okomu and Benin area of the council, is nothing but an outpost of the Benin Empire; it has been the viceroy of the Benin monarch and that of Edo State government in carrying out repugnant policies against the people of Okomu Kingdom by using the staff of the local government, who are of Benin descent, to indulge in illegal and immoral act of change of company names located in Okomu Kingdom to reflect Benin ownership by adding the Benin settlement of Udo.

“Thus companies formally incorporated with only Okomu as host community now carry the affix, Okomu Oil Plc – Okomu-Udo; Osse Rubber Estate Osse-Udo; and Okomu National Park – Araukhan-Udo”.

Ajele, flanked by other chiefs and indigenes of the area, asserted that provocation by Edo State government and the Benin monarch led to the conflagration of July 30, 2015 between the Okomu community and Okomu Oil PLC, which necessitated the intervention of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) after the state Peace and Conflict Committee failed to remedy the situated.

He therefore stated that the Ijaw kingdom in Edo is of aboriginal status as further buttressed by other historical facts besides ownership of the Okomu forest which has been their sacred grove, adding, “just as it is obtained in all ethnic rationalities that evolved distinctly in Nigeria and Africa, monarchs are sourced within the particular ethnic groups and so Okomu kingdom cannot be different as it will be a serious aberration and height of cultural and traditional sacrilege for the Benin’s to overlord the Okomu people”.

“At this juncture, it is important to note that the Peres (Kings) of Ijaw nation are neither elected nor by inheritance but through divine selection by the national Gods of the Ijaw nation who are both spiritual and political in their sovereign dispensation.

“Unfortunately, through the economic and political marginalisation of the Ijaws, there is an attempt to demean our monarchs and deny us our aboriginal rights of ownership. We are ready to defend with the last drop of our blood for our kingdoms and kings.

“Okomu kingdom in Edo State like other Ijaw kingdoms in the state has suffered serious political marginalization. Successive governments in the state and the Obas of Benin have orchestrated clandestine moves to legislate on traditional institution matters with a view to subjugate and coax the Ijaw cunningly and forcefully and thereby reducing then into second class citizens through the enactments of laws that are obnoxious and negative in democratic and plural societies.

“The Ijaws in Edo are balkanised into different wards, for instance where there are large Ijaw communities and population, they are deliberately broken down into smaller units and merged with Benin speaking constituents to prevent them from producing their own representatives”, he stressed.

In a reaction, however, the Oba of Benin, through his Chief Press Secretary, Comrade Desmond Agbama, said it is wrong for the Ijaw whether from Gelegele of Okomu, to claim that the forest reserves and the land accommodating various companies in the area belong to them.

He said the entire Okomu area is part of Benin Kingdom with one paramount ruler,  the Oba of Benin, adding that, by so doing, it is natural that any royalty accruing from such must go to the state government and whoever is the traditional ruler overseeing the entire place.

Also reacting on behalf of the state government, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy to Governor Obaseki of Edo State, said presently, there is a broad-based strategy to bring development to all sections of the state in terms of their needs.

To achieve this, he noted that the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has embarked of numeration of number of schools in the state, vis-à-vis to know those have schools and those who do not have with a view to allocating school one them, adding that as soon as that is completed, those who do not have will certain smile.

On the issue of ownership of Okomu land, he said the Land Use Decree (Act) of 1978 appropriates all land in the state to the government who in turn allocate same for any purpose as required or requested.

He added that the law has not been abrogated and so the issue of who owned Okomu land does not arise as all lands are vested in the hands of government.

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