By Demola Akinyemi
ILORIN—Neighbouring Benin Republic has invaded 16 villages in Okuta, the border town in Baruten Local Government Area of Kwara State, causing fear and tension in the affected communities.
In their determination to annex the Nigerian villages, Vanguard reliably gathered that authorities of Benin Republic had gone ahead to construct offices fot its gendarmerie (Police station) in the affected communities and also hoisted the country’s flag.
Vanguard checks revealed that the development negated the boundary delimitation of 1914 between Britain and France which the two countries had respected.
The affected villages include Ogomne, Bwin, Gandasunon, Kpuru and Woru Wuren Kparu.
Others are Ajuba1, Ajuba 2, Saka Yeruman Kparu, Monta, Dotin Kparu, Halidun Kparu, Yakubun Kparu, Sonsi, Gunosani, Alhaji Kparu, Yodo Mankparu and Simen Kparu.
The Emir of Okuta, Alhaji Idris Serio Abubakar, who confirmed the development in an interview with journalists, said the development also led the Okuta Emirate Council to order the people of Yakparu axis to dismantle the Beninoise flag hoisted in the villages, adding that the flag was currently in the custody of the emirate council in the town.
The monarch appealed to Kwara and Federal Governments to come to the aid of the people of Okuta villages as residents now lived in fear of possible attack.
He said Nigerian teachers, dispensary workers and Immigration officials in Ogomue had been sent packing from the Nigerian villages by Benin Republic officials.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise to the situation before the Benin Republic authorities invade all Nigerian communities in Baruten Local Government Council of the state.
The emir recalled that during the government of President Ibrahim Babangida, the gendarmes attempted their encroachment move, claimed ownership of Ogomue, a village under Boriya of Okuta district in Baruten local government council of the state.
He noted that the move led the then military governor of Kwara State, Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdullahi, and the then Commander of 22 Armoured Brigade, Ilorin, Col. Ojokojo, to visit the area.
He also said a visit during the period under review prompted the hoisting of Nigerian flag at Ogomue, with the subsequent construction of a primary school, a dispensary and Immigration post by the Nigerian authorities to give the villagers a sense of belonging.
He noted that since then, the Gerdarmes had fled the area until recently when they sent Nigerian government workers in the area parking before establishing their presence through the illegal removal of the Nigerian flag and hoisting of Benin flag there as well as as construction of Gerdarmes office.
When Vanguard sought the reaction of the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media, Mr Femi Adesina on the development, he directed us to the Minister of Information & Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who in turn directed us to contact Kwara State Government or the State Police Command on the issue.
In his reaction, Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Ajayi Okasanmi said “the State Police Command has not been officially informed of the invasion by the Benin Republic. But now that we have been informed, the Command will act immediately and contact the nearest police station to the communities to get feedback. We will then decide what to do next”.