Ijaw, monarch, Edo disagree over Okomu land ownership
The Ijaw communities in Edo State, the Oba of Benin and the state government are at loggerheads over the ownership of Okomu land.
While the Ijaw are claiming ownership of the said land, the Benin kingdom identifies them as settlers and that the areas they occupy, belong to the Benin Kingdom which places them under the traditional authority of the Oba of Benin.
Several Ijaw leaders and the President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, debunked reports identifying them as settlers.
Addressing a press conference in Okomu, the leaders drawn from 24 communities in the area accused the state government and the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II of denying them of their rights and ownership of Okomu land, noting that contrary to the picture being painted, it was the Benin who are actually settlers.
Also an Ijaw of Apoi from Ondo State, Dr. Tommy Kolodowei, said the ancestors of Apoi occupied the land for centuries.
The Oba of Benin through his Chief Press Secretary, Desmond Agbama, said it was wrong for the Ijaw whether from Gelegele of Okomu to claim that the forest reserve and the lands accommodating various companies in the area belong to them.
He said the entire Okomu area is part of Benin Kingdom with one paramount ruler, which is the Oba of Benin. Natural any royalty accruing from such must go to the state government and whoever is the traditional ruler overseeing the entire place.
Also reacting on behalf of the state government, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, said the Land Use Decree (Act) of 1978 appropriates all land in the state to the government who in turn allocate same for any purpose as required or requested.
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