Gelegele /Pere controversy: Edo monarchs throw weight behind Oba of Benin, EDSG
· As Ijaws maintain stand
Abavo Kingsley, Benin
The Council of Traditional Rulers in Central and Northern Senatorial Districts of Edo State has in solidarity thrown their weight behind the people of Benin Kingdom, the Oba and the State Government in the resurgence of the ownership claim of the oil rich and sea – side town of Gelegele by the Ijaws, and subsequent attempt to crown Godwin Ogunyiebo as ‘Pere’ of Olodiama Kingdom.
Condemning the act of the Ijaw people, the Council termed it as an aberration, abomination and unacceptable as it called on the security agents to urgently intervene, arrest and prosecute persons behind it to nip a looming anarchy in the bud.
The Traditional Rulers briefed the media on Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 in Benin – City, the State capital.
The Onojie of Opoji, H.R.H Aidonojie Ehidiamen who is also vice Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, Edo State noted that from time immemorial, the area in contention has always been part of the Benin Kingdom.
According to him, in the 14 – 15 century, the Portuguese accessed Benin through Gelegele as the only existing sea port and even built an up – stair there.
“In the old Mid – Western region, there existed two Provinces; Benin and Delta, Gelegele was part of the old Benin Province and there had never been any other Kingdom in Edo South apart from the Benin Kingdom with the Oba of Benin as the only recognized Monarch.
“Eventually, the old Benin Province was transformed to the present day; Edo State with Gelegele as an integral part of it.”
Ehidiamen condemned Ijaw monarchs in Bayelsa and Delta States who allegedly were behind the attempt to crown a King in an existing Kingdom of Benin. An act he described as a misnomer and an abomination.
Saying the alleged act is unacceptable, he added; “So we decided to come together to add our voice that government should not take this lightly.
“The Governors of Bayelsa, and Delta States should be contacted by Edo State Governor to talk to their People to stay in their territory.”
Also speaking, the Olokpe of Okpe. H.R.H Oba Idogu III (JP), aligned with the Onojie of Opoji declaring that no part of Edo land should be ceded to anybody under any guise.
In the contribution of H.R.H Sule Idabo (Alh.), the Imah IV of Somorika; Edo land is a property for the Edo people. Right from the creation of Edo/Delta, the Ovia area has always been under Benin Kingdom.
“So, for somebody to come from Bayelsa to Benin land to confer chieftaincy title on or claim the land as theirs we all condemn it, we disagree with everything they do, and I want to send the message back to them; the Governors of these States should call their people to order.”
The monarch demanded that the Ijaws should send apology to the Oba of Benin, and his people.
In the same vein, the Onojie of Ewu, H.R.H Alhaji (barr.) Razak Ojeifo III condemning the act said; “As far as we are concerned, the Omo N’ Oba of Benin is the only prescribed and appointed traditional ruler in Benin Kingdom and anything outside that becomes a criminal act which we urgently call on the security agents to nip in the bud.
“We have the list of traditional rulers in Edo State and as far as we are concern, the title of ‘Pere’ is not recognized by law. It is illegal, and it remains so.”
While Sheikh Deke Y. Karoba (JP) the Egiebgai II of Ekperi Kingdom urged the Ijaw people to retrace their steps and embrace peace.
Also at the media briefing were; H.R.H Omogbai Ogieneni of Uzairue, Onojie of Ugun, H.R.H Ehizogie Oboh Ehigiator, Onojie of Okalo H.R.H Egualona I (JP) and H.R.H the Ogie of Ivbiaro.
Meanwhile, Ijaw leaders in the area in contention had few days earlier in a media briefing in Benin insisted that their communities with the ‘Pere’ as King have been in existence since time out of mind.
Adding; “The Pere of Olodiama is gazetted in the Mid – Western State of Nigeria. Gazette No. 56 of 18 October, 1973.”
“Even before the said gazette, the Ijaw people of Olodiama clan have their recognized Pere of Olodiama with his seat at Ikoro in Ovia – North – East Local Government Council Area of Edo State.
“A case in point was the coronation of Ogunyiebo Asulu as the Pere of Olodiama at Ikoro which was evidenced and published in the Daily Times Newspaper of 27 February, 1958.
“It is on record that Oba Akenzua II of blessed memory sent his son, then crown prince; Solomon Akenzua who later becomes Oba Erediauwa in 1958 to Ikoro to represent him in the installation of the Pere of Olodiama, Pere Asulu Ogunyiebo (Traditional ruler of Olodiama).”
Expressing shock at the stand of the State Government in the raging controversy, the Ijaw leaders stated; “Government all over the world stands as the umbrella body that protect its people irrespective of tribe, race, and religion and cannot be different in the case of Edo State