By SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN CITY-THERE is tension between the Ijaw and the Benin people residing in the Gelegele area, Ovia North East Local government Area as a socio cultural organization in Edo state, the Benin National Congress (BNC), has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, threatening war against the Ijaw over their alleged claim of Gelegele land which according to them belongs to the Oba of Benin.
The group however commended what it described as the synergy between the state government and the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11, in ensuring that the Gelegele project becomes a reality. They appealed that “if peace is allowed to reign that port will provide employment both for the Ijaw, Benin and entire people of the Niger Delta so nobody should jeopardise the effort”.
The group regretted that the activities of the Ijaw youths in Edo state and the alleged marginlazation had led to the arrest and detention of one of their own, Mr Curtis Ugbo, therefore appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Oba of Benin, to prevail on the state Commissioner of Police to release Ugbo whom according to them was fighting a just cause.
In the letter signed by Dr. David Ekomwenrenren, its Director of Publicity and Intelligence, it said” as a pan-Benin intelligentsia with outstanding records of communities development initiatives and non-political agitations aiming at peaceful ethnic nationalities cooperation in over a decade, we respectfully seek your utmost watch on the persistent anachronistic tendencies of some Ijaw youths in violent encroachment, violent assaults and criminal intent to deprive the Benins of our natural heritage under the guise of ravaging militancy. No group has monopoly of violence, we will go to war if that place is annexed, it belongs to Oba of Benin.
“We are confident that the Seaport and Power Plant exploration Committee being pioneered by Governor Godwin Obaseki, with the royal blessing by His Royal Majesty – Oba Ewuare will achieve the desired objectives of rescuing Benin youths, Niger Delta and Nigerian youths from chronic unemployment and under-empowerment which are the twin foundations of crime in the region.
“We are not unaware that some of our Ijaw brethrens who have hitherto made Gelegele their home, where fishing, farming and other forms of sales and services continue to thrive, hence there is this tendency to claim ownership, which of course has resulted to altercations between the Benins and Ijaws. The BNC is out to fraternize with the government and Palace in protecting our territorial integrity and as a people, we are not willing to cede any part of our territories and land to anyone.
“Our ideals as a people, is to encourage trade, investment and growth amongst ourselves and neighbours towards building a peaceful society where every man can succeed through Commerce and other legitimate interests. We are aware of the arrest and subsequent arraignment of some of our brothers, Curtis Eghosa Ugbo and Chief Odion Olaye, over the last demonstration they spearheaded against some Ijaw elements allegedly laying claim to the ownership of Gelegele; and the NPDC, and calling on resident oil companies to rise up to the corporate social responsibility.
“We respectfully appeal to Governor Godwin Obasek to wade into the ongoing legal battle between the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu and Curtis Ugbo towards a peaceful resolution of the matter, and restoring sense of harmony to aggrieved youths” it stated.