The Ogbe-Ijoh’s land grabbing across Aladja reminds one of the way and manner the Ijaws are equally extending their landmass in states of the South South and the South West region.
By Paulson Okobiebi
This land grabbing by Ogbe-Ijoh in Aladja, Udu Local Govt Area of Delta State, is one that is becoming too worrisome and must be addressed before the Ogbe-Ijoh lay claim to the entire Aladja community. But that plan, will fail ultimately.
Aladja Community is predominantly known as agrarian and occupies very large expanse of land upon which the indigenes’ farm cash crops; such as rubber, palm, coconut and cassava.
The Ogbe-Ijoh community in contrast are fish farmers and like all Ijaw communities dwell near the creeks and by so doing, the Ogbe-Ijoh’s have occupied part of Aladja community and for decades they have been claiming that they own the Landmass they are laying claim to. Whereas their original fathers who were fishermen were allowed to occupy certain part of Aladja community because of inter- marriages, trade alliances and mutual love as well as understanding. The same land that was left for them to inhabit has not only become an issue, it has led to the untimely death of many Aladja people.
To equally say that it has led to the total destruction of our rubber trees, palm trees, coconut trees and other fruit trees is an understatement. To make matter worse, the Ogbe-Ijoh in a bid to erase our effetivitae on the land continue to attack our people but we know that their plan to wipe us from our fatherland shall not stand. Infact, their armed attack on our people and our properties, no matter how many, are destined to fail. You know why? Even trees and grasses of the land shall rise up against them. Besides, there is a God of justice to whom, we shall all face one day no matter our prowess in any weaponry and divinity.
Let me at this point also state that the Ogbe-Ijoh’s claim based on the western regional map of divisions, with the obnoxious”Jackson Line”, is the cause of so many conflagrations between the Urhobos and Itsekeris in the not too distant past, is destined to fail woefully.
It is an open secret that the western regional map with the arbitrary Jackson Line as boundary between the then western Urhobo and Warri divisions was purposely made to punish the Urhobos for throwing their weight behind the NCNC party. The intention was to profit the Itsekiris for their support of the Action Group. The rest is now history though but how else could one fathom the disregard of obvious natural features (rivers) as boundary?
What is at stake here is traditional boundaries which is largely dependent on the culture, the way of life of a people, and not some arbitrarily drawn line by persons who knew next to nothing about the people and the area in question. Who amongst us was a party to the map of 1955 and the so called Jackson Line?
The ownership of Lands cannot be based on such imaginary lines. Indeed, current local governments boundaries which emanated from such imaginary lines are faulty and defective. Such boundaries are tentative and considered as work in progress. Disputes arising from such boundary problems are settled by the determination and delineation of the traditional boundaries and adjustments of the local government boundaries to coincide with the traditional, especially in cases like this one where the peoples affected belong to different ethnic groups.
This was the core of the terms of reference of the Prof. Abednego Ekoko panel of inquiry. The claim by Ogbe-Ijoh community of straight lines as traditional boundaries between it and Aladja, in the Abednego Ekoko Administrative Panel of inquiry is telling enough.
It must be stated that the plot of Ogbe-Ijoh to truncate the on-going government endeavour to achieve peace will be resisted. The slow movement of a Tiger is not an indication of weakness.
Aladja supported those who berthed the subsequent Aladja/ Ogbe-Ijoh peace Vanguard and the politically exposed persons and social media influencers that came on board to give it the necessary fillip because we believe in the peace initiative.
Infact, the peace initiative was the precursor of the Aladja/Ogbe-Ijoh local boundary demarcation committee, an effort by the two local councils in conjunction with the communities to lay the crisis to rest.
The relative peace and minimal person to person interactions from both sides of the divide were the dividends of this initiative.
However, these positive moves particularly the
three panels inquiry by government to address this boundary issue in addition to the subsisting local boundary demarcation committee of government that have been addressing the boundary issue between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh for about three decades now are under treat today as it has always being with every peace initiative, by the action of Ogbe-Ijoh Community.
it is imperative to recall that the majority report of the Prof. Abednego Ekoko Administrative panel of inquiry was rejected by Ogbe-Ijoh Community. Ogbe-Ijoh community representatives in the Ekoko panel came out with an offensive minority report which was discoyntenanced by government. The implementation of Exco’s resolutions on the report were frustrated by Ogbe-Ijoh Community using what they know how to do best.
This much was exposed at a meeting held at the office of the then secretary to the state government Hon Barr. Ovie Agas. At that meeting, the then Surveyor General of the state feigned ignorance
of the existence of two reports and Exco’s resolutions. He amazingly declared that he was
directed to implement the minority report endorsed by no other than the Ogbe-Ijoh reps on the panel to the consternation of all present. What a conspiracy from a man in the highest echelon of the state civil service. I do not recall any sanction nor querry over that official misconduct by an equivalent of a Permanent Secretary. But that is a matter for another day. It is clear who he was working for.
Ogbe-Ijoh Community is now also working tirelessly to truncate the efforts of the local boundary demarcation Committee. How else does one explain the resort to the law courts and incessant armed attacks on Aladja Community.
Governmemt reticence on these matters is no longer golden. Infact, no responsible government will allow such a thing to happen especially in a clear case as this. But we as responsible citizens are watching with keen interest.
Has Ogbe-Ijoh forgotten so soon the position of the boundary proposed by TOPCORN in 1997? Infact Ogbe-Ijoh should apologise and appreciate Aladja Community for agreeing to demarcate and give a substantial portion of what belongs to Aladja community to Ogbe-Ijoh in an effort to allow brotherly love to reign moreso that we have allowed them live with us for centuries.
If the Ogbe-Ijoh people fail to intimately appreciate the kindness of the Aladja people then we shall soon let the whole world know that this unwarranted bellicose may lead to Ogbe-Ijoh community losing it all in the not too distant future.
A word for the wise is enough.
Engr. (Chief) Paulson Okobiebi (JP) is an indigene of Aladja community