Another Crisis Brewing Between Ijaws, Itsekiris Over Land

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Sylvester Idowu in Warri

Another ethnic crisis is gradually building up in Delta State as an Ijaw elite group, Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group (WIPMG) accused their Itsekiri counterparts in Monday of plans to attack some Ijaw communities to provoke their military occupation.

The Ijaw group, in a release signed by its Chairman, Chief Patrick Bigha, said information available to it was that some Itsekiri warlords want to attack Ijaw communities to provoke retaliation, thereby creating room for the military to occupy them under the guise of maintaining peace.

It warned in the release titled: “Itsekiris Fanning the Embers of War” that the communities in question belonged to the Ijaws and not Itsekiris as being claimed.

“It has come to our notice that some Itsekiri warlords are planning to attack Ijaw communities in Warri and its environs in order to provoke retaliation so that the military will come in and occupy Ijaw communities under the guise of maintaining peace.

“Currently, some Itsekiri groups are claiming that they are the owners of the entire land the people of Gbaramatu kingdom are occupying. We make bold to say that there is no element of truth in that claim. The claim is made in bad faith, as it is baseless and provocative”, it added.

WIPMG therefore advised the Itsekiris to desist from the act of annexing lands that do not belong to them noting that the law courts do not have the right to take someone’s land and give it to other person.

“The Ijaws of Warri are the original occupants of the land they are staying time immemorial. The Ijaws have not been conquered at any time in the history of Warri. The funny thing is that the Itskiris came to meet the Ijaws in Warri towards the close of the 18th century, and so could not have been the owners of the Warri land.

“It was the colonial masters that gave them the land belonging to the Ijaws as attested to by their own son and leader, Chief Dore Numa in the Warri Intelligent Reports. The report is a public document anyone can lay his or her hands on. Therefore the Itsekiris should stop this frivolous claims”, the group claimed.