Ijaw Nation attention has been drawn to the unguided, inciting and rogue statement made by the secretary of Benin traditional council ,one Frank Irabor on vanguard newspaper dated 2nd March, 2019 citing one purported and irrelevant supreme court judgment to have given the Benin a right of ownership over Ijaw community lands in the state.
The purported judgment only referred to unidentify parcel of farm land in an unknown location in one Unexisted imaginary gelegele. Our community is not gelegele but gelegelegbene. The said judgment has nothing to do with Gelelegegbene community and other Ijaw lands in the state.
Ijaws are not tenants in Edo state. We outlive them. It is Benins that are the strangers. They met us at Ovia river. We ferry them. The current Benin city was already existing, founded by the Ijaws before the coming of the Benins from Ife. The city was called Bini, meaning water people. This is historical fact. The judgment referred to 30years ago has nothing to do with Gelegelegbene and other Ijaw lands in the state.
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 only the Ijaws that greet Adoo and Dolo in Nigeria which is a indisputable fact.
Again ,J .U. Egharevba, book titled the short history of Benin (1968) also holds this view. 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, writes, ‘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. We make bold to say that the Benins are the invaders of Ijaws who are the original aborigines of Edo state .
It is worthy of note that Gelegelegbene, Ikoro, Okumu, Ikenwan were amongst the Ijaw villages that confronted the Yoruba invaders which is now the Benins that is recorded in the book titled ,The Origin and Title of Yoruba Rulers (N.D) Page 6, the author stated: ‘About 1170 AD, Prince Oranmiyan, one of the sons of Oduduwa of Ife, the father and progenitor of the Yoruba Obas………succeeded in reaching the city after much trouble at Ovia River with the ferryman (ibid)” same book page 9, he stated again, “about a century later, another Oba, Ewedo, had to undergo similar troubles to those which his great-grand father, Prince Oranmiyan, had from the ferryman at Ovia River
Enough of this nonsense ,Ijaw nation have alreday directed Ijaws in the state to deal with anybody coming to trespass and steal their land . We have directed them to go into self_defence and the sky will not fall. We are ready for the worst.
Be warned henceforth ,tresspassers will be on their own risk in Gelegelegbene community and other Ijaw lands in Edo state as Ijaw nation has directed a total clampdown of such criminals.
Comrade Ozobo Austin
National president Ijaw People’s Development initiative,IPDI.