By Jimitota Onoyume
WARRI—ITSEKIRI have berated foremost Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark over alleged attempt to distort historical facts, adding that he should refrain from allegedly beating the drums of war for younger generations.
A statement by the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought endorsed by its Chairman Chief Edward Ekpoko and secretary, Sir Amorighoye Mene emphasised that the Itsekiri are peaceful loving people, noting that the Ijaw leader should stop his alleged effort to paint the Itsekiri nation in borrowed robes.
The statement alleged that the recent interview by Chief Clark in the media “picked on the Itsekiri in a language that has all the elements of hate speech. Only a pathological hatred for Itsekiri could drive Chief Clark to such venomous frenzy of irreverent and abusive language.”
The statement said, “Chief Clark in a futile attempt to debunk Prof. Yomere alleged that Emaye, the mother of Prince Iye, was the daughter of an Ijaw woman from Isaba, and that Princess Iye was the mother of Chief Dore Numa. That is not correct. Though Emaye had Ijaw blood she was paternally Itsekiri.
“Emaye was the daughter of an Ijo woman married to an Itsekiri man, Egharegbemi, who was at that time the Iyatsere. Olu Erejuwa I married Emaye who bore him two daughters; Uwale and Iye.
“On the death of Erejuwa I, his son and successor, Akengbuwa inherited Emaye and had two sons and a daughter – Omateye (m) and Ejo (m) and Ejumugho (f). Emaye thus had five children from the two marriages. The descendants of the five children are compendiously known as “Ugogo Maru” or “the House of Emaye” within the Royal Family. Iye had an only child, Tsanomi.”
This is corroborated by Prof. Obaro Ikime in his book, Merchant Prince of the Niger Delta.
“In December 1996, the administration of Gen. Sani Abacha announced the creation of new Local Government Council Areas in Nigeria. In Warri, a new Local Government Council Area tagged Warri South West Local Government Area was created. Before the headquarters of the new Local Government Council Areas were announced by the Federal Government, Col. Dungs, the then Military Administrator of Delta State announced Ogbe-Ijaw, an Ijaw settlement as the headquarters of a Warri South Local Government Council Area and renamed the existing Warri South Local Government Area as Warri Central Local Government Council Area. This of course, was wrong because the two Decrees relating to the Local Government creation namely Decree No. 36 of 1996 dated 30th December, 1996 and Decree No. 7 of 1997 dated 3rd March, 1997 only created a Warri South West Local Government Council Area with headquarters at Ogidigben, an Itsekiri town.
“ When the fact became known to the Ijaw and Col. Dungs, the Ijaw instigated by their leaders protested and accused the Itsekiri of taking what belonged to them. They flared up in arms and the Itsekiri who had no hand in Local Government creation became an object of attack and extermination. The pogrom against Itsekiri was launched. over 45 Itsekiri towns and villages have been completely ransacked, looted and burnt down by the Ijaw militia. Thousands of Itsekiri, mostly the aged, women and children were killed in a bizarre manner – some had their heads chopped off by cutlasses, axes, motor-saw, etc. Children were thrown into burning fire. Women were raped and the heads of most of the victims used as sacrifice to the Ijaw gods of war; and in some cases
“It is not true as Chief E. K. Clark wants people to believe that it is Itsekiri’s claim of sole ownership of Warri and the Olu’s overlordship rights claim over Warri or arrogance that is the root of the clashes between Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo. The clashes have been on, especially with the Ijaws for over a 100 year before even the founding of modern Warri at the beginning of the last century.
“Chief Clark claimed that Chief Obafemi Awolowo conveyed government land to the Itsekiri Communal Land Trust in 1959. Furthermore, he claimed that it was then Itsekiri started claiming ownership of Warri and that late Chief O. N. Rewane was the Chairman. This is completely false and unfounded. A brief account of the history of the Itsekiri Communal Land Trust will expose the inadequacy of Chief Clark.
“ At the beginning of the last century, when Colonial Masters wanted to firmly establish their presence in Warri metropolis and land was needed for offices and other governmental purposes, they approached the Itsekiri people through Chiefs Dore Numa and Ogbe Yonwuren. Three leases were subsequently granted on behalf of the Itsekiri people. These leases are: i. Lease dated 30th day of July, 1906, made between Chiefs Dore Numa and Ogbie (Ogbe) Yonwuren, acting for and on behalf of the Chiefs and people of Warri of the one part and Sir Walter Egerton, the then Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Southern Nigeria of the other part.
ii.Lease made on the 18th day of July, 1908 between the said Chiefs Dore Numa and Ogbie (Ogbe) Yonwuren acting for and on behalf of Chiefs and people of Warri of the one part and the said Sir Walter Egerton, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Southern Nigeria of the other part.
iii. Lease dated the 25th day of February, 1911 and made between the said Chiefs Dore Numa and Ogbie (Ogbe) Yonwuren of the one part and the said Sir Walter Egerton, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Southern Nigeria of the other part.
These three (3) leases constitute the nucleus of the present Warri metropolis covering the whole of Odion (Alder’s town), Ogbe Ijoh (including the Warri GRA and up to the Warri Port) and Agbassa (including Igbudu).