WARRI—THE Olu  of Warri, Delta State, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, has fingered the Federal and Delta State Governments for allegedly acquiring the site of the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state, now a matter of disagreement between Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups, from impostors.

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Vice President of “Nigeria” Dr.Yemi Osinbajo and Delta State governor, Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, during the courtesy visit to the Olu of Warri’s palace. 

The Olu, who bared the Itsekiri position when he hosted visiting Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at his palace in Warri, demanded that the Federal Government appropriately acquire the NMU site from the Itsekiri people of Omadino, the lawful owners of Okerenghigho community, and not interlopers, who renamed it Okerenkoko. There has been no love lost between the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities in the state over the ownership of the location of the university. While the Ijaw claim that NMU is in Okerenkoko, a Gbaramatu-Ijaw land, the Itsekiri say it is in Okerenghigho, belonging to Omadino people of Itsekiri, which Ijaw acquired by force and renamed Okerenkoko. Ogiame Ikenwoli, however, pointed out that he was not against the university, but wanted the site to be legally acquired from the true owners. His words:

“We, therefore, demand and appeal that the Federal Government should properly acquire the land for this university from Omadino the rightful and legal owners of Okerenghigho community and pay them their rightful due”

Given its potential to train high level manpower to explore and exploit our vast marine resources, the Itsekiri support this institution to be established at Okerenghigho, an Itsekiri community, which is one of the communities our neighbours have forcefully annexed and renamed Okerenkoko.” According to the monarch: “But we are miffed that the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, in connivance with the then Delta State government, purportedly acquired the land from certain individuals who possessed neither historical nor legal title to the land, and reportedly even went ahead to pay compensation to these impostors. “Similarly, Abiteye and Uton-nanna, where there is the flow station, are illegally annexed as if they were part of Gbaramatu.

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The Olu of Warri (Left), with the Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.

Security “We plead with the Federal government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, to continue, and even intensify its constitutional responsibility of protection of lives and properties throughout the Niger Delta region. Criminality should be punished and not rewarded in any form, which has remained at the heart of the crisis, leading to an endless cycle of violence, reward, and then more violence and senseless destruction of oil facilities located mostly in Itsekiri areas, followed by brazen stealing of crude oil, accompanied by massive environmental pollution.

“We enjoin Mr. President to, as a matter of urgency, establish military bases in selected locations in the Escravos and Benin River axis.” VP mum on Olu’s claim In his response, Osinbajo was silent on the issues raised by the monarch on the proper acquisition of the site of the university, a development that did not go well with the Itsekiri chiefs in the palace. However, before he visited the palace, he had spoken about the maritime university at Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom, where he told the people that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to take over the university   and that everything thing was being done in that regard, while the bill for its establishment had passed the second reading in the Senate.

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The Olu of Warri, HRM Ogiame Ikenwoli

He said: “The President is an honest man, who has always had the passion to rule the country even when he was a military officer. I admit and agree with the Olu that I am an in-law to the Itsekiri nation by virtue of my marriage to my wife. “The Federal Government is in a haste to bring lasting solution to the unrest in the Niger Delta region so that peace can prevail. It is only in peace that the government can achieve success in its determination to bring rapid development to the area. “The Federal Government must complete the Lagos/Calabar rail project in no distant time and China is currently collaborating with the Federal Government to complete it. “Demand for oil has fallen as US, UK and other developed nations have seen other alternatives to fuel energy. China now has electrically-driven vehicles.

“The cause of underdevelopment in Niger Delta is because of corruption of its leaders and politicians, up till now. The future is now, so the Federal Government should be encouraged to develop the area by stopping all forms of crime against oil facilities and federal government installations/institutions in Niger Delta.”

concerning the EPZ project in Ogidigben, Ogiame Ikenwoli said:

“This is a project very dear to us as a people. Ex-President Jonathan performed a colourful ground-breaking ceremony on this project at Ogidigben in 2015, and since then, nothing much has happened there. We appeal to Mr. President to use his good office to fast-track the commencement of this project, as this has huge potentials to create jobs and provide trickle-down economics for our people. “We understand that the Federal Government will not require to finance the entire project but only to provide the basic infrastructure and the enabling security backing for the international investors, who are eager and waiting to be so encouraged”, he added. 

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