By Emma Amaize
BENIN—IJAW Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, yesterday, cautioned Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State against renaming Gelegele Seaport.
National President of Ijaw Rights Group, Austin Ozobo, in a statement, said: “Edo-Ijaw people are not Benin people but natives of Ijaw in Edo State. Governor Obaseki and Oba of Benin lack power to do that in our land.
“Edo-Ijaw will not accept any further intimidation from Benin people. You cannot rename a project in Ijaw land after another land. It will not work.
“It will be an aberration for a project sited in Benin City to be called an Ijaw name. It is a misnomer for a government project in Ijaw land to be named after Benin except we want to invite avoidable war and unnecessary rancour.
“It will be a taboo to allow Obaseki to rename Gelegele seaport after Benin. Edo State has different tribes. The state has the Ijaw, Benin, Esan, and Auchi among others. Assuming the project is sited in Esan land, will Benin man or Obaseki call it Benin name?
“This shows the level of oppression Edo- Ijaw are facing in their own land. The Governor and Oba should be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the state over this irregularity.
“We wish to state categorically that President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Inspector General of Police should call Obaseki to order to avoid a crisis.
“It is imperative to note that the location of the proposed project is Ijaw land and there is no way the seaport will be renamed after Benin.
“If Obaseki and Oba of Benin want, they should arrest or kill every Edo- Ijaw person. Our ancestors and gods will still fight for justice. This is provocative and barbaric. A governor ought to uphold truth and accountability.
“Ijaw-Edo will defend our land with the last drop of our blood. No amount of intimidation, witch-hunt, and victimization will make them successful. We have informed the entire Ijaw nation and they are not sleeping over it.
“It is our candid advice that Obaseki and others steer clear from the proposed project site, pending when every lingering issue is addressed.’’