By Emma Amaize

WARRI—THE altercation between the Ijaw and Bini ethnic nationalities in Delta and Edo States over the ownership of land in parts of the present-day Edo State, took a different turn, yesterday, with the Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, in Warri, vowing that the Ijaw tribe was prepared to defend its territorial lands in the state against Bini invaders.

The Bini kingdom as accentuated by the Benin Unity League, BUL, in various publications, is laying claim to Gelegele community, which the Ijaw refer to as Gelegele-ama, in Gelegelegbene area of the state.

IPDI in a statement by the national president, Mr. Austin Ozobo, said: “We (Ijaw) are ever ready to defend what is rightly ours. It is our opinion that the threat of war by some misguided Binis can be likened to the adventure of an ignorant cat that dared to challenge the lion for a fight. This is not the era of Oba Ovoranmen where bows and arrows were used to expand Benin territory. This is 21st century and ljaws of Gelegele-ama are not oblivious of modern ways of self- defense.”

The group urged the governor of the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to avoid the Bini trouble makers and proceed with his good intention for the development of Gelegelegbene community by directly dealing with the people in execution of the projects, adding: “Companies exploiting oil in Gelegelegbene community should have a direct dealing with Gelegelegbene community people.”

Accusing BUL of making baseless claims over the ownership of Gelegelegbene, which it described as an “Ijaw community in Edo State,” IPDI advised the Bini ethnic group to steer clear of the community and its affairs.

“We make bold to say that the Binis are the invaders of Ijaw territorial lands, not the other way round. They are expansionist and land grabbers, we challenge the Binis to publish documents showing that they permitted the Ijaw of Gelegelegbene to settle in their present land.

“It is imperative to note that ownership of land is not based on fraudulently obtained court judgments, but on cogent historical facts of founding, deforestation and occupation. It is on record that Ijaws of Gelegele-ama, Gelegelegbene are neither customary tenants nor a conquered people by the Benin kingdom. We want to unequivocally state that Benin should steer clear from Gelegelegbene community affairs, as we will not be deterred by campaign of blackmail and falsehood by the Binis.

“It is wrong to say Ijaws are drumming for war and calling Ijaw all kinds of names is not noble. The truth is that we are not interested in going to war with our neighbours, but we can never be intimidated with war threat by our neighbour.

“It is obvious that the Benin are still relying on fraudulent judgments for its ownership of a place, I think the Gelegele the Binis are talking about is different from the present Gelegele-ama, a homeland of Ijaws of that extraction. We wish to reiterate that the Binis have no place in Gelegelegbene community looking at its antecedents.

“The Beni statements that about100years ago, Ijaws were welcomed as tenants in Gelegelegbene community is laughable. The Beni goofed as they lack proper historical background about Gelegelegbene existence. Gelegelegbene has existed far beyond the coming of Benins in Edo State. These were the Ijaw villages that confronted the Benin invaders as recorded in the book titled, ‘The Origin and Title of Yoruba Rulers (N.D) Page 6.’

“It is funny for Beni self-facing writers to say the founding of Gelegelegbene, which is recorded to be 1170 AD is about 100 years old. This shows the extent of desperation of Benin to annex Ijaw lands.

“Their (Bini people) hostility and inordinate ambition to annex and dominate other peaceful people territories are historically recorded in various history books. Their attack or response is very weak and cheap and authorities referred to are irrelevant. We had raised issues in our previous publications and expected them to cite historical facts of the Binis coming to Edo State and how they own Gelegelegbene, but none was contained in their series of advertorials and publications, which amounted to wasted efforts, time and resources on their part.

“Historically, we cited E. Alademomi Kenyo, who in his book, titled ‘The Origin and Title of Yoruba Rulers’ (N.D) Page 3, stated: ‘Up till time, the Oba (in Benin) and his people were pure Yoruba and did not understand the language of the aborigines, who usually salute themselves and the new people (the Bini) Adoo, Dolo.’ It is an indisputable fact that it is only the Ijaws that greet Adoo and Dolo in Nigeria.

“It is wrong to say we quoted history out of context, we did not only use J .U. Egharevba’s book titled, “The Short History of Benin’ (1968) to back our claims, we equally referred to Prof. Alan Ryder, a British national and former professor of history at University of Ibadan in his book, ‘Benin and the Europeans 1485-1897,’ Page 27, which states inter alia, ‘Whichever of the slave rivers the Portuguese frequented, the people they first met and traded with, would have belonged to Ijo (Ijaw) tribe, which at that time dominated the coastal belt of the swamp forest, extending inland to a depth of 30-40miles in the region.

“It is obvious that the Binis are quoting Isaac Adaka Boro’s 12- Day Revolution out of context. Their argument that the fact that Gelegelegbene community is not mentioned among Ijaw communities by Boro in his book means that it is not an Ijaw community, falls short of the attributes of a rational reasoning. Indeed, Boro did not mention all Ijaw communities in his book and that does not mean that Ijaw communities not mentioned in Boro book are not part of Ijaw or Niger Delta.”
Ijaw, Bini face-off over Gelegele land deepens

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These anti-Edo political organizations you folks went to join are the most anti-African - and Africans - in the world.

They're worse than anything; we obviously can't stop you though, even Ewuare II's manifest destiny lies in our own regional party.

We have egba Omo Oduduwa and so on, NPC, AG, the forerunner of them all NCNC and then now these cancers of today.

Stay "with them", but register for your most important election first: your local election, register Edo Political Front, and if you don't, vote the front.

No self respecting Edo will - in the future - find themselves the flag bearers and cheerleaders of foreign parties with indirect rule political and economic mandates, it just doesn't work.

No sane Edo person lives to "have the ear" of someone who doesn't have Edo at their heart.

The Supreme Court is the place to remove the frustration of these lethargic and "periodic" additions to the voting rolls; here - where I live - you can fill in the forms regarding changing your voter registration at the post office and other easy access places.

At the rate things are going we're going to find ourselves truly in decline as our populations suffer from simple things like protein deficiencies in children

" - Reggie Akpata

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