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Tension in Edo communities over ownership of disputed land

By Gabriel Enogholase

BENIN—TENSION is brewing between Egbirhe and Okhoromi communities in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State over the ownership of a disputed parcel of land on their common boundary.

It will be recalled that the Benin monarch, Omo N’ Oba Ewuare II had already adjudicated on the issue and given judgment in favour of Egbirhe community as the rightful owner of the land.

Egbirhe community, in a petition to the Benin monarch through their counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi, said that their neighbour, Okhoromi were cashing in on an alleged claim of ownership of a shrine on the disputed land to foment trouble which may lead to a possible outbreak of hostilities between both communities.

The community appealed to the Oba of Benin to set up an  investigative panel to look  into the existence of such a shrine as claimed by Okhoromi community, adding that if the findings of the panel reveal that Okhoromi community does not own such a shrine, appropriate punishment should be meted out to their Odionwere and elders to serve as deterrent to others.

According to their counsel, “Our clients clearly see the recent shrine issue as another bid by Okhoromi community to thwart their efforts in enjoying your erudite judgment in their favour. Our clients want to categorically state that there never existed any shrine in that area as claimed by Okoromi village. Your Majesty, if there was ever such a shrine, let Okhoromi village bring forth the Chief Priest who served the shrine as he is unknown to the entire Iyekogba axis.

“This recent story was cooked up by Okhoromi village with a view to frustrating your judgment against them and create crisis for our clients. We have utmost faith and hope in you and we very pleased with your fatherly efforts in resolving such communal boundary disputes amongst your subjects.”

The Egbirhe community recalled that following the boundary dispute between both communities, Oba Ewuare 11, following a complaint lodged by them adjudicated on the issue after a thorough investigation and the testimony of Mrs. Atiti Igbinidu, 89 years old and younger sister to the Odionwere of Okhoromi,    delivered judgment in its favour as the owners of the land.

They added that both communities were ordered to maintain peace and order as he, the Oba will send some Chiefs and the “Avbiogbe” palace society to plant “Ikhinmwin” trees to demarcate the boundary between them.

They explained that while waiting for the Palace Chiefs and the “Avbiogbe” Palace society to demarcate the boundary, the Okhoromi community went to the Palace of the Oba of Benin to misrepresent facts, claiming that a shrine which they worship was in Egbirhe’s land.



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