Kogi Central, West Senatorial Districts Reject Court Judgment on Ownership of Ajaokuta, Others

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Ejiofor Alike

The Ebira Peoples’ Association (EPA), Koton-Karfe Igu Descendants Association (KIDA) and Okun Development Association (ODA), all of Kogi Central and Kogi West senatorial districts of Kogi State, have rejected a recent court judgment ceding ownership of Ajaokuta, Koton-Karfe and Oworo land to the Igala ethnic group in the state.

In a joint statement issued yesterday by the representatives of the umbrella bodies of the two senatorial zones, the two zones recalled that Kogi Central, Kogi East and Kogi West have managed to coexist peacefully since the creation of the state in 1991, in spite of what they described as “the dissatisfaction with some state practices by certain sections of the state from the very beginning.”

The zones noted that the peaceful coexistence received a boost recently following the shift of power away from the Kogi East for the first time since the creation of the state and since the advent of democratic dispensation.

The statement was signed by the President General of EPA, Dr. Adeiza Musa Abdurahman; National President of KIDA, Hon Abdulkarim shuaibu; and National President of ODA, Mr. Femi Mokikan.

According to the joint statement, “the sustenance of this fragile peace is the responsibility of every citizen of the state, and much more so, of the leaders in government, in our royal Institutions, the judiciary, and other natural and professional bodies in the state”.

The two senatorial zones reaffirmed their highest respect for the courts of the land and other institutions of the judiciary, pledging not to impugn the integrity of the judiciary.

“While our focus here is not to assess the judicial processes that led to the historic judgment, we as the official umbrella organs of the peoples of Ajaokuta, Koton-Karfe and Lokoja (Oworo), the original, natural, and historical owners and uninterrupted custodians of the land that is the subject of the judgment of the Federal High Court Lokoja, hereby declare our absolute rejection of the said court judgment and whatever it represents.

“We confirm that in accordance with the above rejection, steps are already being taken to appeal the judgment and we are confident that in the end the cause of justice will be served.

“We feel pained that in an era when the rest of the world is thinking of how to make life more meaningful and worth living for their people, what we are being invited to deal with here is some outdated expansionist and imperialistic tendencies.

“We however note very strongly that the initiation of the court case in the first instance was ill-conceived, ill-advised, provocative and without consideration for the fragile peace of the State,” the statement explained.

Kogi Central and West senatorial zones argued that the steps taken that led to this judgment and the judgment itself have further deepen the mutual suspicion and mistrust that had existed among the various blocks in the state.

According to them, this mutual suspicion has held the people of the state back in development.

The two zones recalled that it was only last year that the people of the state decided to confront the mutual suspicion, which led to the coming together of the umbrella associations of the three senatorial districts that make up the state for the first time in the history of the state to form a coalition named Kogi Coalition of Umbrella Development Associations (KOCUDA).

The sole aim of KOCUDA, the statement said, was to promote mutual understanding, peace and unity amongst the various people of the state through various initiatives.

“This recent judgment has grossly undermined the efforts of this body. It is our fervent believe that the situation is not irredeemable. With some introspection, necessary damage control measures can still be taken to rebuild confidence and trust,” the statement added.

The statement called on the people of the state “to continue to remain calm, maintain the peace and continue their lawful activities while cooperating with law enforcement and other agencies of government with responsibility for promoting peaceful coexistence”.