Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Palpable tension saturday enveloped the in Warri, Delta State over the alleged abduction of two Ijaw Youths from Opuede Community in Gbaramatu Kingdom by armed men suspected to be youths from Aladja, an Urhobo Community in Udu Local Government Area of the state.
The victims simply identified as Solomon Ikoto, and Samuel Ebimajor were reportedly seized along Ovwain River while on their way back from Ovwain-Aladja to Ogbe-Ijoh market, which they ply as boat riders.
Ovwian-Aladja, an Urhobo Community and Ogbe-Ijoh, which is that of Ijaws have been at dagger drawn over protracted boundary dispute, which had claimed several lives from both sides.
However, following the development, fear heightened on Saturday in the area as local sources confirmed that the middle-aged youths, who hails from Opuede in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government and Egbema in Warri North Council Area respectively had been allegedly killed by their captors who abducted them last Wednesday.
Chairman of Opuede community, Mr. Williams Tortor who confirmed the alleged abduction of the youths, however appealed to the leadership of Aladja to prevail on their youths to release the abductees unconditionally, expressing fears however that if they have been killed, their corpses should be released for burial.
Tortor, who also appealed to the state government to immediately arrest the situation, told newsmen in Warri that allowing the Ogbe-Ijoh/Aladja aged-long communal crisis to Gbaramatu kingdom and other Ijaw communities would further worsen the already bad situation and snowball the crisis into a major intra communal war.
“Gbaramatu people are not part and parcel of Ogbe-Ijoh/Aladja dispute. We have never be part of the crisis, and we don’t support any community against the other.
“We have been playing the peaceful role of good neighbours but we have never being involved so why should they extend their crisis to us by abducting our boys.
“We are appealing for their unconditional release dead or alive, we don’t want further trouble so that the issue doesn’t escalate more than it is now. If they have killed them let them release their corpses but if they are alive they should please release them unconditionally, Tortor said.
He said Gbaramatu communities or any other Ijaw community within Warri metropolis have never taken side over the Aladja/Ogbe-Ijoh land dispute saying that the peaceful role played by Gbaramatu Kingdom when Urhobo Progressives Union, UPU, Youth Wing issued ultimatum to Ijaw people residing in Udu to quit the area sometime ago was an indication that Gbaramatu was not taking side in the crisis.
Meanwhile, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC Gbaramatu Clan chapter has given the captors 48-hours ultimatum to release their victims noting that abduction of Gbaramatu indigenes could have been done mistakenly.
“We see the abduction of our youths by Aladjans from the purview of mistaken identity and expect the leadership of Aladja to prove us right by releasing our boys to us alive within the next 48 hours, starting from this minute.
“But if they have unfortunately murdered them, we reiterate that their corpses be released to us for proper burial rite within the said time frame.
“Aladja youths should not spread the war to cover all Ijaw people by killing anybody that is from Ijaw ethnic extraction, as we are aware that a boy from Egbema Kingdom was massacred in cold blood by same Aladja youths in the course of this crisis which has already made the scope of the unfortunate crisis a bit too wide.
“We are not at war with the Aladjans in any case. But this will not break our spirit of oneness both in good and bad times; a trait from our ancestors. For Ijaw is one and our oneness is Ijaw”, the statement signed by Messer Godstime Ayetan, Godswill Doubra Wuruyai, and Frank Ekpemupolo said.