Controversy Trails AGF’s Statement On Maritime University

Some Ijaw inhabitants and their Itsekiri’s neighbours in Delta State have locked horns over the ownership of the location, where the Nigerian Maritime University is sited and with the latter citing a Supreme Court judgment, affirming their ownership of the area.

This has generated a lot of reactions including from the Federal Government as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami in a memo to the clerk of the National Assembly, on October 17, 2017, advised the National Assembly to change the name of the location of the Maritime University, from Okerenkoko, to Okerenghigho.

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In this controversy, prominent Niger Delta activist from Gbaramatu in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, High Chief Micheal Johnny condemned the purported memo emanating from the AGF.

Johnny, who is also a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, accused the AGF of deliberately trying to cause a fresh crisis in Niger Delta.

“Malami’s advise as contained in his memo to the National Assembly to rename the location of Nigerian Maritime University from Okerenkoko, to Okerenghigho is mischievous and taken to deliberately want to cause a fresh crisis between the Ijaws of Gbaramatu kingdom and our Itsekiri brothers in Warri South West local government area of Delta State.

“I am an Ijaw man from Okerenkoko, where the Maritime University is located, the Itsekiri people cannot claim ownership of Ijaw land for whatever reason,” Johnny, who is also the immediate chairman, Egbema Gbaramatu communities said.

Reacting to this development, President of Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC), Agbateyiniro Weyinmi says the decision of the Supreme Court has become a law, adding that the world is watching to see the outcome which has become a test case for the National Assembly.

The Maritime University, which was established by Former President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2015 has suffered a lot of setbacks with litigations and accusations. It took a lot of lobbying and perhaps even the resumption of hostilities in the Niger Delta region before an approval was given for its take off

The Itsekiri leaders called on the Senate to relocate the institution to Okerenghigho in Omadino community, saying the movement is imperative and in consonance with a valid court judgment supporting their claims.

Delta PDP Members Protest Imposition Of Candidate

PDP Members Protest Imposition Of Candidates In Delta
File photo

Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Itsekiri region of Warri South West Local Government Area have rejected the imposition of candidate on them by some party leaders.

The aggrieved protesters, who stormed the PDP State Secretariat on Thursday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, chanted various songs to express their displeasure with the development.

This comes amid preparations for the local government elections in Delta State scheduled for January 6, 2018, as political parties have begun the process of selecting their flag bearers for the polls to elect the officers of the third tier of government.

The ruling party in the state – PDP is also an integral part of this process with some local government councils already producing candidates for the elections.

But members from the Itsekiri region of Warri South West LGA have accused some party members of disrupting the political harmony of the local government.

Spokesman for the group, Andrew Igban, who decried the alleged imposition of one Taiye Tuoyo as the PDP candidate for the polls in the region, maintained that the voice of the people must be heard.

He said: “We the PDP leaders of Itsekiri extraction of Warri South West LGA wish to inform the state leadership of the party and the state governor that the Ugborodo axis and the Ijaws have taken their turn of the LGA chairmanship in the persons of David Tonwe (presently the Director-General, Delta State Security), and George Ekpemupolo (the immediate past chairman of the LGA), and that it is now the turn of Benin River (Orere) axis to nominate the chairmanship candidate for the forthcoming contest.

“With every sense of seriousness, we have in one voice rejected the candidature of Taiye Duke Tuoyo as he is not even from Warri South West but Warri North and has not been playing politics with the Itsekiris in Warri South West LGA.”

According to a communique issued by the protesters, they have urged the party’s leadership to order the immediate release of the nomination form to one Johnbull Atse Edema Atumu.

The protesters were received at the party’s secretariat on behalf of the PDP state chairman by the Organising Secretary of the party, Sunday Onoriode.

Onoriode commended the people on their decision to drive home their demand in a violent free manner and promised to pass their requests to the party’s leadership for possible consideration.

Itsekiris Protest At Olu Of Warri’s Palace Over Traditional Titles

Angry Itsekiri indigenes besieged the palace of the Olu of Warri today in protest against the Olu’s intention to confer very important traditional titles known as the Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of the Warri Kingdom on Chief Ayiri Emami and two others.

According to the protesters, the people reserve the right to either reject or accept nominees.

In this case, the protesters said the Itsekiri people have rejected the nominations for reasons bordering on integrity and loyalty to the cause of the ethnic nationality.

They vowed to ensure the end of mono-monarchy system in Warri should the Olu proceed with the plan of making Ayiri Emami the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom.

The Olu of Warri is said to have planned to confer the second most powerful title or authority (Ologbotsere ) on Emami in the first week of August

Carrying placards, men and women, old and young marched through the streets of Warri to the Olu’s palace singing songs of solidarity

They forced themselves into the palace and headed straight into the chambers of the traditional ruler but they were stopped by some palace chiefs who intervened and calmed the situation.

After calm was restored, the protesters expressed their concerns and insisted that they would rather die defending the ancient prestige of the kingdom than to live to see it being taken over by personalities that are not worthy of leading it.

One of the leaders of the protests, Weyimi Agbateyinero asked the Olu to reconsider his stands and appoint qualified people also taking into cognisance the tradition and belief of the people.

He said, “Persons so nominated in the selection and nomination of Ologbotsere fall short of all known traditional standards and requirements paraded by previous occupants of such chieftainship in terms of age, integrity, intellectual capability, status, etc.

“The issues surrounding the selection of Iyasere and Uwangue titles did not follow all known traditional procedures and processes. Nominees for the Iyasere and Uwangue titles also lack the requirements for such exalted chieftaincy titles.”

Speaking on behalf of the palace and the candidates in question, Prince Yemi Emiko denied claims that that the Olu wants to impose traditional leaders on the people adding that families involved have been engaged in meetings before reaching an agreement on those to be presented.

He said, “It is not true that the Olu wants to impose anyone, that’s why it is so annoying. The title family has been engaged in meetings almost every other week in the last one year, trying to agree on who to present.

“Finally, about three months ago, they came in large numbers to the palace, presenting the three names.”

Meanwhile, it appears the protest may have yielded positive fruit as a source said the Olu may have suspended plans to confer the titles as planned in response to the protest by his subjects.

Ijaw Leaders Raise Alarm Over Threat To Attack Host Communities

Ijaw Leaders Raise Alarm Over Threat To Attack Host Communities
Godspower Gbenekama

The Ijaw leaders in Delta State have raised an alarm over possible threats by the Itsekiris to attack their communities.

According to the spokesperson for Gbaramatu Kingdom, Mr Godspower Gbenekama, the land in dispute belongs to the Ijaws and no other group has the right to claim ownership.

The leaders called for the intervention of the federal and state governments in the matter, in order to protect their territories from any possible attack.

The appeal followed a warning purportedly issued by a group of youths from over 250 Itsekiri communities in Delta and neighbouring states.

The warning tagged the ‘Deghele Declaration’, read: “That all resources within the stretch of land and water in Itsekiri Ethnic Nation belong to the Itsekiri people as provided by God for their perpetual survival. We hereby notify all our communities that are host to these oil companies to be on red alert and be ready to defend our territories against the aggressors (internal and external), since the oil wells are preferred to the dignity of our people”.

Reacting to the warning, Mr Gbenekama lamented that: “We have always lived here for many years and for the Itsekiris to come up to say that they own this land is completely unacceptable”.

“It is the duty of the government to provide security for us and that is why we are bringing this to their notice. The only thing we need is development for every community in the region and we will not exchange words with the Itsekiris,” he added.

The Delta State Police Command said it was aware of the possibility of the threats and that it was doing all it could to prevent any occurrence of such.

The State Commissioner of Police, Zanna Ibrahim, said: “This is a legal matter so we are doing everything we can to ensure that there is peace in the region.  We will work with relevant stakeholders to solve this problem”.

Delta Gets Seven-Day Ultimatum To Abolish DESOPADEC Bill

desopadecThe Delta State Government has been issued a seven-day ultimatum to reverse or abolish the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission (DESOPADEC) Bill passed by the State House of Assembly and recently signed into law by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. 

At a press briefing organised by leaders and representatives of oil producing communities, drawn from the Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo and Isoko ethnic nationalities in Warri, Chief Mrs Rita-Lori Ogbebor, said the oil producing communities in Delta State have been denied their rights since the introduction of the derivation principle.

Chief Ogbebor explained that the principles of derivation remained clear that 13 percent of the revenue accruing to the federation account from any natural resources shall be allocated to the oil bearing communities.

She further noted that the Delta State Government has not done much for the oil producing communities, despite the nearly N5 Billion monthly derivation fund the state has received for over 16 years.

She warned that the oil producing communities would institute a criminal action against the Delta State Government in the Court of law, if the Bill and Law passed by the House of Assembly and signed by the state governor respectively is not urgently reversed.

On Tuesday, Governor Okowa signed the DESOPADEC amendment bill into law emphasising that the new law would also allow the establishment of a Management team for DESOPADEC to meet with the expectations for which the commission was initially established.

Exploring the Ijaw-Itsekiri crises

BY MYNE WHITMAN!

“Bonfires of the gods” is very well written and quite deeply researched; the author shows off his creative chops and interweaves it with hands-on knowledge of the area he is writing about.

The story of the various crisis that have ravaged Warri, most recently in the late 1990s is one that has been rarely explored in books, but Andrew Eseimokumo Oki tackles it boldly in this book.

Using various well developed characters, he asked historical questions that demand answers till today because relations between the various ethnicities in Warri remain touchy.

“Bonfires of the gods” will suck you in and force you to confront your own prejudices; it will also encourage you to view the real people behind ethnic disturbances, not as villains, but as human, and sometimes, victims of their own circumstances.

Reading the novel left me with a niggling sense of sadness at the stories of the different characters – especially the star-crossed, lovers Tonye and Laju.

There is also the conscientious reporter, Jolomi and his wife Toju, and the two young men Mogha and Seye, thrust into a scenario they could never have imagined through no fault of their own.

“Bonfires of the gods” is a novel, but reads like non-fiction.

It crafts a vibrant story around events that genuinely happened and are relevant in discussing the history of Nigeria, especially as it concerns the Ijaw, Itsekiri and other ethnicities in Warri and some other areas of the Niger Delta.

The book starts when the initial match was struck in 1997 and wraps up the final chapter in 2003.

There is in addition, an exquitely written prologue and epilogue that succinctly grounds the chapters between. You will definitely want to discuss this book with someone.

Reading “Bonfires of the gods” demands that Nigerians look inwards at the different nationalities that make up the country and find a way that means we can all get along for the greater development of our people and the survival of our culture.

Myne Whitman is a writer and the renowned author of “A Heart to Mend” and “A Love Rekindled”. She is the Editor of Naija Stories. For more information about Myne Whitman and her works go to www.mynewhitman.com  

 You can buy the Amazon Kindle of “Bonfires of the gods” here and the Amazon Paperback here. “Bonfires of the gods” releases in Paperback in bookstores across Nigeria in a few weeks.

 Title: BONFIRES OF THE GODS

Author: Andrew Eseimokumo Oki

Genre: Fiction – Literary

Publisher: GRIOTS LOUNGE

ISBN: 978-978-922-479-1

Year: 2012

 

Host communities accuse Chevron of denying them oil contracts

A group known as Chevron Host Communities Registered Procurement Contractors (CHOCOPROCO) on Tuesday protested over alleged marginalisation by the procurement department of Chevron Nigeria Limited.

The group with membership drawn from the Itsekiri, Ijaw, Elaje and Urhobo ethnic groups, all host communities of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) in Delta State called on the company to relocate its headquarter to its operational base in Warri, Delta State instead of Lekki Lagos in line with the Federal Government requirement.

CHOCOPROCO which led a protest to the Chevron Nigeria Limited base in Warri early on Tuesday morning and subsequently briefed journalists alleged that the company is colluding with some persons to marginalise the host communities giving them less than the local content policy of the Federal Government demands.

Led by their chairman, Emmanuel Adidi, the group said while they were open to dialogue the company chose rather to dub them criminals and warned that if every attempt to dialogue fails they will have no choice than to take more drastic steps.

They claimed that while they are contractors to Chevron as host communities and as stated in the Local Content Law the bulk of contract goes to a select few and others who are not members of the host communities.

The group alleged that persons who are staff of Chevron use business names to carry out contracts for the company effectively denying the host community members their rights.

They demanded to be carried along in the day to day procurement opportunities and awards and the immediate relocation of the Purchasing/procurement headquarters from Lekki back to Warri the operational base of Chevron Nigeria Limited as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Fair basis

However in its reaction, the Nigerian arm of the American oil company in a statement by its Communications Manager, Sola Adebawo, maintained that “the contractors under the aegis of Chevron Host Community Procurement Contractors (“Chocoproco”), which is also known as E-Procurement Contractors are benefiting or have benefited from purchase orders awarded by the company through a rigorous competitive tendering process that provides opportunities to all the Procurement Contractors in our operating areas.”

Chevron Nigeria also claimed that “it continues to follow Local Community Contractors Standard Operating Procedure, which is part of a well-established contracting process developed to ensure contracting opportunities are managed on a fair basis and for the benefit of its communities – East and West of the Niger Delta.”

“The Local Community Contracting process is driven by the Global Memorandum of Understanding where the Regional Development Councils (RDCS) are pivots of empowerment” the stated said, adding that “there has been marked growth in the contracts awarded to community Contractors over the past three years.”

“We continue to work with all stakeholders including the contractors to overcome challenges, seek ways to continually improve our processes and come to an amicable resolution” the company added.

CNL also noted that its highest priority remains the safety of its employees, contractors and the security of its assets in its areas of operations.