Ijaw, Benin bicker over land ownership

he Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N, ‘Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolor, Oba Ewuare II

The brewing land tussle between the Benin people of Edo State and the Ijaw continued yesterday. The Ijaw claimed they are the original settlers, accusing Benin people and the Edo State government of depriving them of royalties from companies operating in the area, particularly Okomu in Ovia South West Local Council area.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Okomu, the Ijaw said there was a calculated attempt by the state government and the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, to deny them of their ancestral rights and ownership of Okomu land, and that contrary to insinuations that they (Ijaw) are settlers, it was the Benin people who are actually settlers.

Spokesperson for the communities, Chief Ajele Sunday, the Fiyewei of Okomu kingdom, said: “The kingdom is a distinct clan with autonomous status and its own monarch.”

In his reaction, the Oba of Benin through his Chief Press Secretary, Comrade Desmond Agbama, said it was wrong for the Ijaw whether from Gelegele or Okomu to claim that the forest reserve and the lands accommodating various companies in the area belongs to them.

He said the entire Okomu area is part of Benin kingdom with one paramount ruler, which is the Oba of Benin, adding that it is natural that any royalty accruing from such must go to the state government and the traditional ruler overseeing the place.

Also reacting on behalf of the state government, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, said currently, there is a broad-based strategy to bring development to all sections of the state in terms of needs.

On ownership of Okomu land, he said the Land Use Decree (Act) of 1978 appropriated all lands in the state to the government, which in turn allocates the same for any purpose requested.

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