The Itsekiri National Youths Council, INYC has called on the Delta State government to ignore the demand for the creation of ward in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State by the Ijaws, noting that the original 13 Wards in the defunct Warri Division, later Warri Local Government Area, clearly shows that the Ijaws have no place in the present Warri South Local Government Area.
The Warri South Local Government Chapter of INYC in a statement signed by its Chairman and secretary Comrade Ofoyeju Izuagie and Comrade Jemi Ajemijeroma Mene Ejegi listed the 13 Wards in the defunct Warri Division:
“Ward One: Ode – Itsekiri, Orugbo, Orere, Omadino etc. (57 polling units) Ward Two: Ogbe – Ijoh, Isaba, Gbaramatu etc. (54 polling units) Ward Three: Gbokoda, Ogheye, Ekekporo, Ugogoegin, Ebrohimi etc. (46 polling units) Ward Four: Eghoro, Deghele, Bateren, Bresibe, Tisun etc. (30 polling units) Ward Five: Gborodo, Ogidigben, Madangho etc. (30 polling units);
“Ward Six: Koko, Ajagbodudu, Abe – Ugborodo etc. (21 polling units) Ward Seven: Ogbinbiri Ogbudugbudu, Opuama, Polobubo etc. (22 polling units) Ward Eight: Dimikporo, Right and Left of Robert Road, Ometan, Lower Erejuwa etc. (15 polling units) Ward Nine: Maciver Road, Odion Road, Cemetery Road etc. (16 polling units);
“Ward 10: Market Road, Ikpara Layout, Odion Road etc. (12 polling units) Ward 11: Upper Erejuwa, Okumagba Layout etc. (41 polling units) Ward 12: Okere, Hospital, Police Barrack, Edjeba, Ogunu etc. (29 polling units) and Ward 13: Odibo Street, Hausa Quarters, Essi Layout, Igbudu Market Road, Marine Quarters etc. (31 polling units).”
The statement emphasised that “the Ijaw are aware that the leases of 1906, 1908 and 1911, legal instrument with which Chief Dore Numa and in some cases Chief Ogbe of Ugbuwangue, on behalf of the Itsekiri people, gave those lands, the Ijaws are illegally occupying in the present day Warri South, to the Colonial Masters.
“Therefore by 2006, 2008, and 2011 respectively, these leases became legally terminated, and naturally, the lands go back to the rightful owners, which are the Itsekiri people.
“From the delineation of the old 13 Wards and the associated communities captured in each of the wards by FEDECO (Federal Electoral Commission), it shows clearly that by August 27, 1991, when Delta State was created and the defunct Warri Local Government was divided into Warri North and Warri South, everything about the Ijaws in the defunct Warri Local Government Area, in terms of polling units, communities, and wards, as exemplified in the then Ward 2, comprising of Ogbe-Ijoh, Isaba and Gbaramatu Communities, Ward 7, comprising of Ogbinbiri, Ogbudugbudu, Opuama, Polobubo Communities, etc. were taken to the then Warri North Local Government Area completely! Furthermore, in 1996, due to political exigencies, what is now known today as Warri South – West Local Government Area, was carved out from the old Warri North Local Government Area.
“Hence erasing the Ijaw history in Warri South Local Government Area! Furthermore, in 1996, due to political exigencies, what is now known today as Warri.
“All over the world, it is the primary responsibility of government at all levels to ensure the protection of lives and property, enforce all government policies and decisions as well as judicial pronouncements.
“Let it be placed on record that the INYC has a compendium of the legal owners of all the properties of the leases, which is not different from the White Paper with the government.
“We acknowledge that in a democratic setting, peaceful protest by any group of persons is allowed, the reason put forward by the Ijaws in their demand for creation of additional ward in Warri South Local Government Area, was indeed laughable. It could be likened to the Itsekiris or the Urhobos going to Burutu Local Government Area to demand a ward.
“The inability of the government to completely enforce the then Commissioner of Special Duties, Conflict Resolution, Comrade Ovuozorie Macauley led Committee’s Recommendation/ Government White Paper on the illegal occupation of properties on the aforementioned leases, during the Warri crisis, whereas in line with government directives, Comrade Ovuozorie Macauley had completely paid all the illegal occupants.
“We are therefore calling on Delta State Government and authorities of the Nigerian Navy, to immediately evacuate all illegal occupants in properties found in the 1906 and 1908 leases without hesitation, to avert a looming catastrophe. Since it is the illegal occupation that Ijaws are leveraging on to demand polling units, communities, and wards in Warri South Local Government Area.