By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—AS tension continues to mount in Gelegele community, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, site of the multi- billion naira Export Processing Zone, EPZ, project, the state government, yesterday, warned indigenes of Gelegele and Ughoton communities that they should avoid unnecessary crisis that may mar the project.
The state government handed down the warning at a meeting with leaders of Ughoton and Gelegele communities, who have been on war path since the commencement of the project.
The meeting yesterday, was tense as the Ijaw community leaders walked out, insisting that they will not accept the ownership claim by the Bini over Gelegele land.
They also insisted that the state government should invite the Ijaw for a fresh meeting through the Amago Ama Okesuwei of Gelegele community and not through Chief Amos Osakwe, the Odiowere of Gelegele and other representatives of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
The meeting was presided over by the Secretary to the state Government, Osarodion Ogie, who represented Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Ogie, who vowed that the state government will not tolerate any attempt to sabotage the project, urged the community leaders to go home and sensitise their subjects on the need to accommodate the investors and officials of the state government, who are already working in Gelegele in order not to scare away investors.
According to him, “This meeting is about the development of Gelegele and not a chieftaincy issue. That area has remained under developed over the years and now this government wants to invest in the EPZ project so that we will create jobs and bring development. And government will not tolerate any action that will disrupt the project.
“Government will not be held back by mundane matters. Government has the responsibility to enforce all land laws including the land use act. Government has the will to enforce any law as long as it has to do with development. This is the time for the people to talk about development and not who owns the land. But I want to say that the Obaseki administration is determined to develop Gelegele and anyone who tries to be a clog to progress will be stopped,” he said.