Tension Heightens Between Binis and Ijaws over Gelelege Land


Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
There is every indication that the Benins and Ijaws in Edo State may go into battle over alleged plans by Ijaw traditional rulers in Bayelsa and Delta State to install Mr. Edwin Ogunyenbo, as the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom in Gelegele kingdom in Ovia North East Local government Area of Edo State
This is as the Benin National Congress (BNC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), yon Thursday expressed readiness to go to war over the land.

In a statement by the BNC which was signed by Osaretin Igbinogun, its Director of Mobilisation, stressed that Gelegele land belongs to the Oba of Benin insisting that the Ijaws are visitors who have overstayed their welcome.
On the other hand, tthe IYC through a statement signed by its President, Eric Omare, described the statement credited to the Edo State Government and the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) over the ownership of the land as unacceptable, asserting that Gelegele land is an Ijaw enclave and they had the right to install a traditional ruler of their choice.

Last Tuesday, security operatives aborted the installation of one Godwin Oguyenbo as the Pere of Olodiama community after the state government declared the installation as unconstitutional and an attempt to create another monarchy in Benin Kingdom.

However, the BNC stated that the entire landmass referred to as Gelegele in the supreme court judgment bothering Ughoton and the Bight of Benin belong to the Benins and customarily under the authority of the Oba of Benin is not in contest.
“We wish to alert the security apparatuses to swing into action by stopping this warring act by one ‘Pere’ who seek to establish a fiefdom and declare himself as a Fief in our land, this is because, if the Benins resolved to militantly engage this war mongers we will not take likely to any clampdown on Benin youths for acting in self -defense of our territory,” Igbinogun said.

Meanwhile, the IYC asserted that “the statement by the Edo State Government and the Benin palace is a declaration of war against the Ijaw nation. The government of Edo State under Governor Godwin Obaseki by the content of the statement issued and signed by the Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodin Ogie, has lost the moral and constitutional right to govern over the Ijaw people and land of Edo State namely, the Ijaws of Olodiama, Okomu, Gbarain, Egbema and Furupa Kingdoms.”

According to IYC, “The statement by the Edo State Government and the Benin Palace which purport to create the impression that Ijaw land and people of Edo State do not exist. This statement is not only provocative but an invitation to war by a state government and this is totally unacceptable. It is a deliberate and wicked attempt by Bini officials of the Edo State Government to rewrite history. The Ijaw nation would vehemently resist this attempt.
“For the records, the Ijaw people of Olodiama, Gbarain, Okomu, Egbema and Furupa Kingdoms in Edo State are aborigines in the lands where they are living and were there for so many years even before the Benins came to their present land under the leadership of their own traditional institutions.

“The Ijaws of Edo State have never been under the traditional institution of any other ethnic nationality in Edo State or elsewhere in Nigeria. We call on the Edo State Government to immediately withdraw its statement and render an unreserved apology to the Pere of Olodiama Kingdom, Ijaw people of Edo State and the Ijaw nation”.