By Emma Amaize
GOVERNOR Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, at the weekend, averted the brewing crisis between the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups in Warri South West Local Government Area over the recent attacks on boat passengers on the waterways of the state by sea pirates.
He called a meeting of stakeholders from the two ethnic groups where the contending issues were raised and finally resolved. It was resolved at the meeting that both ethnic groups were victims of the recent attacks by pirates and other criminal elements on the waterways, and they should join hands with government to tackle the pirates.
The Bolowei of Gbaramatu kingdom and chairman of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Chief Wellington Okirika were among the ethnic leaders that attended the meeting.
Spokesman of the Gbaramatu-Ijaw communities, Chief Bello Oboko said the attacks, mainly on commercial wooden boats should not be given ethnic coloration, as both the Ijaws and Itsekiris have resolved to live in peace.
Oboko said as co-inhabitants of Warri South West local government area, the Itsekiris have been supportive of the Ijaw cause. He affirmed, â€œThey have been cooperating with us and even conceded the chairmanship of the local government to us. We appreciate this gesture
and I want to say that the Ijaws have no intention of going to war with the Itsekirisâ€.
Responding on behalf of the Itsekiris, the chairman of Ugborodo Trust Fund, Mr. Thomas Ereyitomi said the attacks were fallouts of act of militancy in the area and ruled out any direct Ijaw complicity.
In his remarks, Governor Uduaghan thanked the Ijaws and Itsekiris for their mutual assurance to guarantee peace in the area, saying investigations revealed that what happened in the waterways were acts of piracy and assured that action was already being taken to tackle
According to him, â€œSome people who were even accused of complicity are cooperating with security agents to get to the root of the matterâ€. Dr. Uduaghan who assured that the waterways of the state were safe, however, directed that a 14-member committee, comprising of seven members from both sides be constituted for the purpose of monitoring information that will assist security agencies.
The governor used the occasion to announce that the process of rebuilding of Okerenkoko, which was damaged during the May 13 military bombardment has started. He further said that work on the sand filled Ugbordo new town would commence in few weeks time, adding that his administration was committed to creating â€œlivable townsâ€ with adequate amenities.