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Ownership of Warri: Itsekiri slam Ijaw over outburst

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By Emma Amaize

WARRI—THE Iwere People’s Congress, IPC, Warri, Delta State, has  lashed out at  the Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, and the Niger Delta Scholars, NDS, which recently faulted the claim to the ownership of Warri by the Itsekiri ethnic nationality, saying that the groups were misguided and misdirected in their eruption.

Secretary of the Itsekiri group, Raymond Aderejor, in a statement, said that no matter how the leases by Chief Dore Numa referred to by the Ijaw organisations were embedded, “For historical and legal clarity, those leases referred to are Warri Land leases granted by Chief Dore  Numa (Itsekiri) and other Itsekiri chiefs, acting for and on behalf of the Olu of Warri and Itsekiri people of Warri.

“It has been held by courts of competent jurisdiction that the name on the leases is not indicative of ownership. They are mere descriptions. It may interest the aforementioned groups, authors of the news item, to know that Alder of Alders Town was a Yoruba man. No one can give that which he does not have (Nemo dare potest quod non habet).

“Another false claim by the Ijaw groups in their attempt to misdirect the general public is on the so called ‘Chief Dore Numa’s letter to Ogbe-Ijoh people, dated 1923.’ This so- called ‘Chief Dore’s letter of renunciation over Agbassa Land’ was drafted by S.L. Bucknor,  legal counsel to the Agbasa Urhobo on the instigation of his clients, the Agbasa people.

“This letter was tendered in evidence in the case of Ometa vs Chief Dore Numa in 1926, where Bucknor, under cross examination, admitted under oath that his clients instigated him to forge the document. Needless to state that the Agbassa people lost the case in all courts up to the Privy Council in London.

“Besides, if the so-called ‘Chief Dore’s letter of renunciation’ was important and of any legal value to the Ijaw to maintain their claim on Warri land, why did they not rely on it in their claim of ownership of Warri, in the case of Chief Izoukumo Olioki (m) and 5 others vs Itsekiri Communal Land Trust and one other, on 9/7/64?

“It is pertinent to mention that the Ijaw lost the suit. They went to the Supreme Court in 1965 and again lost. At the Supreme Court, due to the  frivolity of their action, the Ijaw were precluded from ever bringing any further actions or action against the Itsekiri in respect of the leases above.

“IPDI and NDS, deliberately tried to misinform the public when they said, ‘It is pertinent to note that the Itsekiri were visitors to Ijaw land. This is a fact you cannot put under the carpet. They were nursed and given Adirimo, an Ijaw woman from Ogulagha to raise the purported Itsekiri Kingdom. How can a man who visited Ijaw at Amatu and Oruesolemo and squatted for several decades turn to own such lands?”

“The history of the origin of the Itsekiri people have been long settled by plethora of erudite historians and judges in landmark judgments. More recently, Prof. Obaro Ikime (Professor Emeritus), one of the authorities on the Niger Delta history said in 1982, ‘All I consider necessary to stress is the fact that we must always draw a distinction between the origins of the people and that of the monarchy. The people always pre-date the monarchy and Kingdom. Let me repeat that: the people always predate the Kingdom

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