By Emma Amaize
GELEGELE- IJAW youth leaders, including former agitators, weekend, stormed Gelegelegbene, an Ijaw oil/gas-rich community in Ovia North East Local Government Area, Edo State, vowing to mobilize forces in support of their kinsmen to fend off attack and oppression of Ijaw communities in the state by purported Benin invaders.
Bini and Ijaw ethnic nationalities have been at loggerheads lately over the ownership of the area, which Benin people refer to as Gelegele, while Ijaw calls it Gelegelegbene.
Vanguard gathered that Ijaw in Diaspora, ex-militant leaders from parts of Niger Delta region and some youth leaders in the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, besieged the community, over the weekend, on the invitation of Ijaw natives to assess the situation on ground.
The team led by Chief Ayiwe Macaulay and Engr DonBen Doyegha declared that Ijaw former agitators would not fold their hands and watch Benin kingdom overrun the people of Gelegelegbene because of the oil and gas deposits on their land.
National president of Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, Austin Ozobo, who was among the Ijaw youth leaders that stormed Gelegelegbene, told Vanguard: “Former agitators from the region and leaders of PANDEF, headed by Chief Ayiwe Macaulay and Engr DonBen Doyegha, have issued a stern warning to the Binis to stay clear of the Gelegelegbene an Ijaw oil- rich community in Edo state.”
His words: “Ijaw youth leaders vowed to mobilize to join Gelegele to repel any form of attack and possible oppression of the Gelegele- Ijaw sons and daughters.”
“This was contained in a speech made during the visit of Ijaws in Diaspora to Gelegele community as leaders of the community called for urgent action from the Ijaws to prepare for historic liberation of Gelegele and other Ijaw kingdoms from Bini oppression, marginalization and environmental degradation,” he added.
Ozobo hinted: “In a swift reaction, the leaders also drew the attention of the Federal Government to deprivation of the benefits to the people of Gelegele as major oil and gas bearing/ producing community in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo state. They are rather being threatened by the desperate Bini people, who covert the natural resources of the land.”
He stated: “We found out that that Bini people want to dislodge the Ijaw of Gelegelegbene of rightful benefits because of the multi- billion naira seaport project of the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. This is clearly selfish and oppressive and they have proven over time to be a common enemy of the Ijaw in Edo state. “
“The Benin, who crave the benefit due to others are unmindful of the health hazard posed by the gas flaring in the residential areas of the community,” Ozobo added.
He said: “The people also demand their own local government, staff of office for their own Amananaowei (king) and enlistment of Gelegele as oil producing community by the Edo State Oil Producing Development Area Commission, as they have all it take to be enlisted. They also demanded their own commissioner and vowed to continue the struggle for liberation from the Benin oppression, marginalization and environmental degradation.”
Ozobo had while addressing the mammoth crowd in Gelegelegbene, tasked the youths to be courageous in defending their territories and kingdom, assuring Gelegele that they are not alone.
He noted that there were endless struggles for Niger Delta liberation, which the Ijaw was at the forefront and that an injury to one is injury to all.
The activist, who cautioned Benin not to confront the peace-loving Ijaw communities or instigate terror or violence in the state, called on Ijaw communities in the state to support the seaport project through peaceful dialogue and negotiation.