By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
BENIN CITY – IJAW youth and half-naked women on Tuesday pursued over 25 police officers and workers sent to build residential estates for the Oba of Benin at Gelegele-gbene (Gelegele), a community in Ovia North East Local Government Area, Edo State, which has been in contention between the Ijaws and Binis in the state.
The police officers were to provide security for the workers, but Gelegele natives, mainly Ijaws, did not find the reason for their visit and action of commencing a housing project funny.
National President of the Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, Austin Ozobo, claimed that the Oba of Benin sent people to the community to commence the construction of residential estates, adding that it was provocative, hence the villagers pursued the over 50 police officers from the community.
Sources said the workers had started laying blocks when the youths and women mobilized and chased them out of the community. They also a seized land document in their possession.
The seized document obtained by Vanguard, yesterday, is a plan showing proposed site for residential estates for HRM Omo N’Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin at Gelegele village area, Ovia North East local government area, Edo state, covering an area of 300 hectares.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, cautioned the Edo State Government, Oba of Benin and security agencies to wary of their actions in Gelegele so as not to stir unnecessary crisis.
Secretary, IYC, western zone, Doubra Okotete, in a statement, said Ijaw youths condemn in totality the invasion of Gelegelegbene community by Benin people desperate “to map out a land to site a palace for the Oba of Benin, a community that does not belong to Benin kingdom.”
“For the records once again, Gelegele (Gelegele gbene) is one of the most ancient historical Ijaw communities of Ovia North East local government area of Edo state, Gelegele community (Gelegele-gbene) is an ancient Olodiama Ijaw- speaking community founded by Pa Olugbo Ikpiti several centuries ago.
“Gelegele is a boarder community between Ijaw communities and Edo communities on one hand and also it is a boundary community of Olodiama clan and Egbema clan of Delta and Edo states. The Bini monarch has often time planned to assimilate Gelegele gbene, hence the incessant invasion and harassment meted on the Gelegele people by the Oba of Benin.
“The entire Ijaw nation is aware of the scheming and manipulations to lay claim to the community so as to share the wealth that accrues to it due to the attention that Federal Government and International community accord it as oil -producing community in Edo state. The other reason is the proposed establishment of a seaport and a new satellite town in Gelegele community.
“This continuous harassment against the law- abiding Gelegele people is truly a call for war and IYC is gradually losing its patience over the continuous harassment meted on Gelegele community. No tribe has conquered Ijaw people since creation and Oba of Benin and his subjects should know that they are only trying the patience of Ijaw people.
“Despite several complaints lodged by Gelegele community to the Edo state government and security agencies, it is obvious that the security agencies are aiding the odious act. We stand not only to condemn the said act, but also warn that it stop forthwith.
“Gelegele people are not alone, they belong to Ijaw nation, therefore, the IYC and entire Ijaw nation shall resist and defend our people, the Gelegele community, with the last tip of our blood. The Ijaw people are peaceful and law-abiding people, but our simplicity should not be taking for granted,” the group stated.