By Akpos Oghenetega,
The people of Aladja Community, Udu Local Government Area, Delta State has demanded the relocation of headquarters of the Warri South-West LGA from Ogbe-Ijoh to its original location at Ogidigben in Warri, claiming that since the break out of hostilities between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh communities, well over 20 souls have been lost on Aladja side.
Addressing a well attended press conference on Thursday in reaction to recent publications by the Ogbe-Ijoh people, at the Aladja Community town hall, Chief Christian Whiliki, First Deputy President General of Aladja Community Council recounted the ordeals of Aladja community since the beginning of hostilities.
He said that Ogbe-Ijoh had been laying siege on Aladja indigenes, kidnapping, killing and burning their houses, alleging that the malicious publications born out of alleged plan by Ogbe-Ijoh to erase Aladja and her people from their own land.
Chief Whiliki, who was flanked by Chiefs and prominent leaders in the community, described Ogbe-Ijoh people as war-mongers who were out to foment trouble and instigate crisis capable of wiping out Aladja through periodic, but unprovoked attack on the people, which he said have resulted in loss of over 20 persons in Aladja community in recent times.
He disclosed that overtime, Aladja had always acceded to peace overtures from government agencies with the Aladja people, ‘’in the interest of peace accepting 1, 236 hectares of land as the dimension of the land in dispute as identified by the Prof. Ekoko Panel of Inquiries, but the Ogbe-Ijoh have refused to accept the recommendations of the panel’’, declaring that Aladja can only discuss peace after the true ownership of the land is first established.
The community vehemently rejected any attempt to demarcate the disputed land as such will not bring permanent peace to the crisis-torn area, ‘’rather only truth about the original owners of the land could heal wounds and give Aladja the peace of mind to discuss the way forward’’, he added.
The Community warned against indiscriminate and forceful taking over of the disputed land by government without first establishing the true owners, adding that Aladja was willing to accommodate Ogbe-Ijoh but on terms of having been clearly identified as original owners of the land who harboured Ogbe-Ijoh out of cheer magnanimity, so that the evidences in historical records, oral history with reference to customary land ownership and previous recommendations by commissions of inquiries could be respected.
The community also called on the Federal Government to wade into the matter in order to restore peace between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh communities.