…NEIGHBOURS’ BATTLE FOR TERRITORY
…It’s propaganda – Aladja
…Peace process ongoing – Ukah, Delta Information Commissioner
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South and Egufe Yafugborhi
RESIDENTS of Ogbe-Ijoh Kingdom, in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, weekend, raised the alarm over alleged massive distribution of military personnel and artilleries in neighboring Aladja, in Udu Local Government Area, with which it has had protracted land dispute, saying the deployment was a calculated attempt to overrun the monarchy using security personnel.
Notable Ogbe-Ijoh leader, Chief Monday Keme, who spoke for the people, told Sunday Vanguard: “Once again, we bring to the notice of government and the public of another planned, and to be well coordinated attack, on Ogbe-Ijoh by Aladja community to be supervised by military personnel under the pretense of providing security.”
But, Aladja community, speaking through its President, Elias Dogene, dismissed the allegation, while the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zanna Ibrahim, said there was no cause for alarm.
Alleged security build- up
Keme claimed: “The action is to be executed from now till the 10th of June, 2017. Intelligence report indicates that Aladja has one (1) armored personal carrier (APC) with 31 personnel, 51 mobile police men from Oghara Station, four (4) Patrol Teams of Eaglenet, Delta State Command, four (4) patrol teams of Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), more than 60 personnel drawn from the conventional police from the various police divisions in the state and seven vans of soldiers all stationed in Aladja.”
The Ogbeh-Ijoh leader explained that the situation was in contrast to what obtained in the Ogbe-Ijoh end where, according to him, there are only 51 mobile police personnel and few postings from the conventional police to support the Divisional Headquarters and remnants of about five soldiers deployed to Ogbe-Ijoh in the wake of Niger Delta crisis, some 20 years ago.
“We recall that 21 years ago, Ogbe-Ijoh was burnt down by military personnel posted to Aladja to maintain peace during the 1995/1996 crisis and a balanced military deployment to Ogbe-Ijoh only will not erode the confidence we have in government,” he stated.
“In furtherance to this plan, about 250 assailants have been assembled with support from the Udu clan to launch attack on Ogbe-Ijoh. We, therefore, call on the military high command to caution its personnel to maintain the peace as well as parents to call their children to order.”
Keme asked the state government to complete the clearing of the bush separating the two communities, saying the reason given by government officials that clearing could not be completed due to inability of the Okowa government to pay the contractor is a demonstration of lack of sincerity on the part of government to resolve the boundary dispute.”
“Once again, we want to assure government and the public of Ogbe-Ijoh’s total commitment to peace despite unwarranted attacks. Since 1996, we have exercised maximum restraint and remained committed to this course”, he stressed.
It’s customary Ogbe-Ijoh claim – Dogene
Speaking on the alleged security build-up in Aladja, the community’s President, Dogene, said: “It is the usual propaganda when Ogbe-Ijoh wants to attack us. We are aware that they are warming up for attack.
“Between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh, there are mobile police teams at both ends. What we have is what they also have. The military is on the Isaba route, with some mobile policemen. That is all. It has been the situation both sides. The military has been there, watching over the three sides. We report to them, and they go to Ogbe-Ijoh and Isaba. They only have their base at Aladja here, just a small unit under the command of Army Capt. Nwakwoda, who is in charge of the whole area here.
“They brought this unit after Isaba and Ogbe-Ijoh joined forces to burn down and destroyed lives at Ayama and Epama, two Aladja outposts. This unit was a product of the resolutions reached when government called for truce on that crisis. This military team was supposed to move down to those invaded communities, but for reason best known to them, apparently for ease of access, they positioned on Isaba route of Aladja.
“Now if you weigh the balance of interest, it is Ogbe-Ijoh that has privileged security. They have a Divisional Police headquarters, which armory they have looted on different occasions to come to kill our people at Aladja. Anyone in doubt can come to both communities to confirm this blatant lie that we have heavy security presence in Aladja.”
Deployment has nothing to do with tribe- Police boss
Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ibrahim, who commended Sunday Vanguard for not rushing to press without contacting him, said: “There should however be no cause for alarm or apprehension of any kind as reinforcement is purely to augment existing structure.”
He asserted: “Deployment is purely strategic to checkmate infiltration from all sides; deployment has nothing to do with tribal or aborigine consideration. As already enunciated in our previous statements, we implore all and sundry to lay down their arms, embrace peace or face severe repercussions.”
Ibrahim added: “Despite the hostilities, the security agencies will aspire to protect lives and properties.”
Govt has cleared boundary, not owing contractor- Ukah
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, said he was taken aback by the insinuation that government was not serious about the peace process between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja, in spite of all it had done to rein in the combatants.
Contrary to the allegation that the state government failed clear the bush at the boundary of the two communities, the state government, Ukah said, had cleared the portion required and was not owing the contractor any debt.
According to him, the portion of bush not cleared at the boundary was left to enable the farmers have land to farm.