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Warri Boils Again

Warri Boils Again

Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt

  • Ijaws in Warri North on warpath

  • Presidential panel wades in, sues for peace

WARRI, the commercial nerve centre of the Delta state axis of the Niger Delta, is on the boil again. This time the frontline is shifting from Warri South- West Local Government Area, where the Ijaws of Ogbe-Ijor were locked in a protracted battle with their Irsekiri neighbours over the headquarters of the council area, to Warri North Local Government Area.

The Ijaws of Egbema Kingdom in Warri North Council area, are spoiling for a renewed war in Warri over what they described as their ‘’provocative and unconstitutional exclusion’’ from participating in the state government.

Leaders of Egbema General Assembly, a socio-cultural group, are alleging that their state government, Dr, Emmanuel Uduaghan, an Irsekiri, who hails from Abigborodo, in Warri North, has been making appointments from the council area in favour of his Itsekiri Kinsmen.

According to the boiling Ijaws of Egbema Kingdom, ‘’the person represnting Warri North in our state House of Assembly is Mrs. Irene Imila, an Irsekiri. All the appointments so far made by Uduaghan from our local governments area are Irsekiris. They are Mrs. Shola Wiltiams, a commissioner, Solomon Areyenka, Chief of Staff, Olatilewa Edward, Special Adviser, Dr. Emmanuel Tetsola, member of the state civil service commission and several others”.

Continuing, they alleged that all the 413 staff of the Warri North Local Government are Irsekiris.

These facts are contained a memorandum presented to the Chairman of the Niger Delta Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee (NDPCRC), Senator David Brigidi. In it, they are accusing Governor Uduaghan of violating Section 14 (3) and (4) of the 1999 constitution.

Accounding to the Egbema leaders, ‘’the governor and his collaborctors, have concluded plans to install another Iirsekiri as the Chairman of Warri North Council in the forthcoming council polls.”

Their alleged exclusion from the affairs of the state and local governments, “ is a complete breach and violation of the provisions of the peace agreement we reached on June 15, 2004 during the Warri crisis’’.

Paragraph five of the peace deal however, states that no ethnic group, kingdom, clan, person in the three Warri council areas should marginalize one another. Paragraph 14 also states that there should be proper representation of the Irsekiri and Ijaw ethnrc groups in Warri.

Leaders of the Egbema socio-culttural group who signed the memorandum are their National Chairman, Chief Abel Ugedi, the National Secretary Midwest Kukuru, Chief Godwin Oligoro, chief Augustine Ukulor, JP. Dickson Asoki, and Morrison Egin.

‘’We have been bearing this injustice for 16 years and so, we are saying enough is enough. The Ijaws have been voting for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 100 percent. The Irsekiri on the other hand have always split their votes into two political parties and yet, they are the most favoured, “ they said.

On receiving an advances copy of the memorandum, the Chairman of the presidential panel and his term who were in the creeks of Ondo state, had cut-short their engagements for trouble-shooting mission in Egbema.

From the creeks of Ukparama in Ese- Odo Local Government Area of Ondo state, the Brigidi panel navigated the Ekpetorun Rivers, and arrived Ajakoroma in Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo state, at 5.30 p.m and moved straight for talks with chiefs and leaders of Egbema Kingdom behind closed doors.

Going by the expression on the faces of Egbema leaders and their dangerously armed youths, it was very obvious that all was not well in Warri North.

Brigidi pleaded with them to give the committee time to digest their memorandum properly to enable them make informed presentation to the authorities.

Briefing anxious journalists at 7.15 p.m when they rose from their trouble –shooting mission, the NDPCRC Secretary, Kingsley Kuku, said, ‘’we have given the Egbema leaders our word that we mean well. We have also agreed to lay all the available facts on the table”

Earlier at a militant camp in Ese-Odo, their Spokesman, Lubi Ebi, alleged that the Ijaws in Ondo state were being neglected by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and the Ondo State Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADECC).

According to them, “ the level oF development in the Ijaw area is not in tandem with the pace at Ilaje Local Government Area.


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