By Emma Amaize
WARRI- THE Niger Delta Scholars, NDS, Warri, Delta State, restated, Thursday, that there were copious proofs in support of Ogbe-Ijoh title of Warri and urged the Itsekiri ethnic nationality to desist from further controversies.
Reacting to a recent riposte by the Iwere People’s Congress, IPC, an Itsekiri group, NDS, in a statement by the national coordinator, Chief Monday Keme, asserted: “Once again, we appeal to our Itsekiri neighbors to restrain from further claims on Ogbe-Ijoh lands as there are abundant evidences, including the ancient Ogbe-Ijoh market retaining the identity of Ogbe-Ijoh in Warri urban in support of Ogbe-Ijoh ownership of Warri.”
It said: “The group, IPC, in an attempt to mislead the public misinterpreted certain legal pronouncement – Ometan v Dore Numa and Chief Izoukumor Olioki and 5 others of blessed memory on one hand and in the other hand Chief Dore Numa’s letters to both Ogbe-Ijoh and Agbassa people.”
“Ometan on behalf of Agbassa sued Chief Dore Numa on the capacity as a government agent, not in his private capacity where he included leases B2 Vol. 1 dated 30/07/1906, B5 Vol. 1 dated 07/08/1908 Ogbe-Ijoh as part of Agbassa land as defined by lease B7 Vol. 1 dated 15/02/1911.
“The Court held that Agbassa land did not extend to the area being claimed by Ometan. The Privy Council then interpreted the area now known as “Ogbe-Ijoh or New Warri”. Lease B2 Vol. 1 is from Ogbe-Ijoh market Warri along the Okere road to the Okere prison passing through the creek along the Ajamimogha road to the back of the Central Hospital Warri including the Nigerian Ports areas of Warri,” it said.
The Scholars added: “Lease B5 Vol. 1 from the Ogbe-Ijoh market to the Roman Catholic Cathedral, including Warri Sapele road to Okere road including the Warri Post Office down to Cavargina Primary School down to NBTC areas as not forming part of Agbassa land. Itsekiri was never mentioned in that case, but New Warri or Ogbe-Ijoh. The man Alders was an Indian transporter who was settled by the Ogbe-Ijoh people and became very famous in the transport business; hence the area was named after him (Alders Town Ogbe-Ijoh).”
It declared: “In 1956, Chief Izoukumor Olioki and 5 others sued the Olu of Itsekiri, Erejuwa II, who was later replaced by Itsekiri Communal Land Trust. And in 1958 the Olu of Itsekiri also sued the Ogbe-Ijoh people, which cases both parties were advised to withdraw for political solution as canvassed by the then Finance Minister Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh.”
“Therefore, suit nos. W/148/56 and the counter W/63/58 were struck out accordingly. And this was confirmed in suit No W/48/68 where the trial Judge held that suit no W/148/56 was not heard in the celebrated Okumagba land case. Justice E A Ekeruche stated that ‘evidence in this case shows that suit no. W/148/56 was not heard’. Therefore one wonders why Itsekiri continue to make reference to this case. We challenge them to publish this case for all to see,” it said.