•Drafted inhabitants to reinforce desecrated 1987 traditional peace oath
•Delta govt, villagers applaud Owhorode of Olomu-led peace team
By Ochuko Akuopha
AN air of conviviality pervaded the secretariat of Isoko Development Union, IDU, Oleh, Delta State, last week, as the apex socio-cultural organisation of Isoko nation and traditional rulers from Urhobo and Isoko ethnic nationalities resolved the protracted land dispute between Igbide and Emede communities in Isoko South Local Government Area.
The resolution lays to rest the five- month old crisis that led to the killing of scores of persons and destruction of property worth millions of naira in neighbouring communities.
The frosty relationship between the communities had begun in 1985 when crisis erupted in the areas over land boundary dispute.
The development resulted in Isoko and Urhobo traditional rulers, steered by the Owhorode of Olomu Kingdom, HRM Ogbon Ogoni-Oghoro I and the Ovie of Uzere Kingdom HRM, Isaac Udogri, mediating and conscripting both communities into taking traditional peace oath in 1987.
The delicate peace that existed thereafter between the communities was, however, shattered on 8 December, 2020, as hostilities again broke out in the areas, desecrating the 34-year-old oath.
Peace deal sealed at IDU secretariat
With disputes over boundaries at the Ewhokpaso land, Uziagwolo land, Oruzu land and Urie lake persisting, IDU, in an effort to restore peace to the warring communities initiated a reconciliation process, engaging the communities’ leaders, local government council representatives, Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Committee representatives, traditional rulers, presidents-general of clans, security agents and others in an arrangement that was used in the peace deal.
At the IDU secretariat, venue of the final peace meeting convened by the leadership of IDU, Urhobo and Isoko traditional rulers, the fighting communities agreed to reinforce the 1987 traditional oath to ensure lasting and sustainable peace in the communities.
The meeting had the Owhorode of Olomu Kingdom, HRM Ogbon Ogoni-Oghoro I; Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, HRM Mujakperuo Orhue I, and 12 other Urhobo traditional rulers, nine Isoko monarchs led by Odiologbo of Oleh Kingdom, HRM Ovrawah Omogha I and Ovie of Uzere Kingdom, HRM Isaac Udogri in attendance. Others were the leadership of the IDU, representatives of the communities and security personnel.
The monarchs emphasized that the enforcement of the oath signified final peace among the people, holding that all land disputes and other issues that caused crisis between the communities stood resolved.
They counselled indigenes of the communities to steer clear of the canals demarcating the land boundaries, stressing that the landmarks remained sacrosanct features that cannot be altered.
Amadhe gives details
Earlier, immediate past president-general and Patron of the union, Chief Iduh Amadhe disclosed that a team comprising leaders of IDU and members of the two communities were engaged to undertake boundary demarcation, engaging the services of excavators to dig canals across the established boundaries to serve generations.
He added that all matters relating to the dispute before the police and the courts were to be withdrawn.
“Since we have played our own part, government should send their own surveyors and then plant permanent pillars in those areas that we have dug canals so that forever, nobody will talk about boundary between Emede and Igbide. Government should also resurface the roads between Emede to Igbide and Okpolo-Enhwe because they do not have good roads. What is there was done by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, over 50 years ago,” Amadhe asserted.
Akpotu, Odhomor throw more light
Speaking with NDV on the resolution of the crisis, President-General of IDU, Prof. Chris Akpotu, expressed happiness that the matter had finally been laid to rest.
“We prayed to God that God should help us. We went to the disputed land and we dug canals to establish boundaries and the final one was the traditional oath- taking,” he said.
Similarly, second Vice- President-General of IDU, Chief Daniel Odhomor, said: “There is no alternative to peace, war has never given any community any developmental benefit. That Igbide and Emene have agreed to sheath their swords and come together is the best thing that can happen to the communities. We are calling on government to also use this opportunity to help, so that we can develop some of the ravaged areas during the hostilities in both Igbide and Emede communities.”
Igbide, Emede monarchs banter
The meeting ended with exchange of pleasantries by the Ovie of Emede, HRM Johnson Eweri II, the Regent of Igbide, HRM Michael Ovadhe, President General of Igbide, Dr. Patrick Oboghor and his Emede counterpart, Dr. Benson Okah-Avae.
Regent of Igbide kingdom, HRH Michael Ovadhe, said: “The oath which was formally taken in 1987 and desecration has been renewed. We, Igbide, are very happy. The blood that has been shed is enough. To avoid further bloodshed, that is why we agreed to take the oath.”
We’re happy – Okah-Avae
On his part, President- General of Emede community, Dr. Benson Okah-Avae, in his reaction said: “As a community, we are happy about the resolution of the crisis because when there is peace, everyone is happy. We are hopeful there will be peace from now on and when there is peace, there is progress. Above all, we must thank God for the resolution.
Uzor thanks monarchs for brokering peace
Special Adviser to the State Governor on Peace-Building and Crisis Resolution, Chief Edwin Uzor, commended the traditional rulers for “assisting so much in ensuring that peace returned to the communities.
“The crisis has come and gone, sometimes, there are issues that will result to crisis and once it is settled, it is settled,” he stated.