By Emma Amaize
BENIN—THE Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, in Delta State, yesterday, dismissed the dependence by the Bini on a Supreme Court judgment that merely mentioned “Gelegele land” to lay claim to Gelegelegbene community and other Ijaw lands in the state.
National president of the group, Mr. Austin Ozobo, in a statement, weekend, said: “It is pertinent to note that the Bini are giving false interpretation to the purported Supreme Court judgment. After reading the judgment which they advertised, claiming ownership of Gelegelegbene community lands, we wish to state unequivocally, that the said judgment did not confer on them the rights they are appropriating.
“The judgment neither challenged the existence of Gelegelegbene community nor its lands, rivers, trees nor creeks. It only refers to an unidentified piece or parcel of farm land and giving a false interpretation to such document to steal people’s lands is criminal, inimical and punishable.
“It is our humble warning that the Bini should not use the said purported confined court judgment about a piece of a farmland as license to unduly or illegally claim Ijaw lands across Edo. The said document is irrelevant and inconsequential as regards the issue of ownership of Ijaw lands in Edo State.
“The case was between Ughoton and Gelegele, our community is Gelegelegbene community, Ughoton never challenged the existence of Gelegelegbene community or other Ijaw communities and their lands in the said suit.
“We wish to state categorically that there was no Supreme Court judgment that vested ownership of Gelegelegbene community lands and other Ijaw communities lands on Bini people and the said judgment was twisted and given false interpretation.”
“We challenge the Binis to publish documents showing their ownership of Okomu, Ikoro, Olodiama, Egbema and Foropagha kingdoms. If I may ask, what does parcel or piece of farmland mean to Beni people? Does parcel or piece of farmland means a portion or the entire lands of a place to Binis.
“There is no place in our community called ‘Gelegele land.’ The erroneous description of that parcel or piece of farmland to wit ‘known as Gelegeleland’ used in the suit was only in reference to a portion of unidentified farmland within the jurisdiction of Gelegele that they are referring t, and does not involves Gelegelegbene community lands, rivers, creeks and trees.
“It may interest you to know that the disputed land referred to is a portion of farmland and not a residential land occupied by Ijaw people in Gelegelegbene community . If we may ask, is it correct to say that Binis do not know the difference between a parcel of farmland and residential lands?
“You will agree with us that the trespass that was referred to1966 as claimed by the Binis could not be Gelegelegbene community that was founded centuries before the slave trade. This clearly shows the criminal and expansionist intents of Bini people.
“They should know that Gelegelegbene community was not founded in 1966 or 1970 and that Gelegelegbene community is as old as Benin. So the 1966 trespass on a parcel of land stated in the said judgment cannot refer to Gelegelegbene community, which a bit older than Bini,” the group added.