By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—ITSEKIRI nation says it will sue the Federal Government if the law establishing Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, is passed without compensation paid to the Omadino people, the perceived land owners.
Chief Edward Ekpoko, Secretary, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILoT, stated this in Warri, yesterday, while briefing Vanguard on the way forward over the ownership dispute of the NMU Okerenkoko temporary site, following the appearances by the disputing Gbaramatu and Itsekiri, claimants to the land, before a public hearing held at the National Assembly on the bill to back the school.
Ekpoko, the Tolureju of Warri Kingdom, said: “We are not against the establishment of the university there. All we are saying is that the proper name of the place is Okereghigho, not Okerenkoko. That is how the courts have decided ownership of the land and compensation should be paid to the land owners, the Omadino people.
“Litigations in respect of Okereghigho had been concluded to finality. No more appeal. The first was in 1951 in the case between E. E. Cillo from Omadina and Adurokumor on behalf of the people of Bakokodia, what Ijaws today call Kokodiagbene. In the judgement it is Bakokodia, not Kokodiagbene there.
“Adurokumor was in Bakokodia but was claiming rent in respect of tenants of Omadino in Okereghigho. Omadino people sued him. In the litigation plan, Omadino people said Okereghigho and Bakokodia were their lands. And they got judgement against Adurokumor.
“When they continued again, Omadino had to go to court again in 1962. They sued James Uloba and two others on behalf of Okereghigho people. The judge even recalled that judgement had already been given in 1951 in respect of Okereghigho, that plaintiffs didn’t need to come to court again, but in any case, the court still gave judgement to Cillo and Omadino people again.”
On the claim by their Ijaw neighbours that they have a Supreme Court judgement setting aside the Omadino court victory, Ekpoko said that was a deliberate falsehood, adding that the case Ijaws refer to had nothing to do with Okerenghigho and Omadino’s ownership.
He said, “The Ijaw people appealed to Supreme Court following the judgement of 1962. That appeal was dismissed on January 31, 1973. They went as far as the West Africa Court and the Supreme Court then. There must be an end to a litigation. In respect of Okerenghigho, appeal will only come on the day of resurrection. On earth, it is dead, concluded to finality.
“The judgement they are harping on in the appeal they got setting aside an earlier judgement in a case between Ugborodo people and Gbaramatu in respect of another piece of land, Oporoaza area, not Okerenghigho. Okereghigho has been concluded to finality, no more appeal.
“The Ugborodo case started in 1970. Ugborodo won at the High Court, then the Court of Appeal said they should send it back for retrial. The Ugborodo people went on appeal to the Supreme Court. Omadino was never mentioned in the matter where they got their said appeal.”