Sunday, February 28, 2016 8:22 pm
By Jethro Ibileke/Benin
Following the attack, heavily armed security operatives, including soldiers and policemen, have been drafted to the two communities to maintain peace as there is serious tension in the area as both communities jointly lay claim over the disputed land.
Carcases of burnt motor-cycles, partly damaged houses and vehicles, were seen at Erhurun community during the fracas.
The traditional ruler of Uneme-Erhunrun, HRH Oba Moses Omoarelogie Braimah, who lamented the attack, said it was a deliberate provocation to harass him and his subjects.
He explained: “What happened was that the Okwokpelagbe invited BUA [cement company] to go and prospect minerals which is in our area in Uneme land in Akoko Edo LGA. I personally stopped the BUA not to prospect anything because I am the appropriate authority to deal with such issues.
“This led to my series of protest letters sent to the state Governor, DSS, the police and other relevant agencies. In-fact this brought a stop to the company’s activities.
“On the 11th of February, one of our brothers, a registered timber contractor duly registered in Akoko-Edo was attacked. Each time the Okwokpelagbe wants to foment trouble, he uses his vigilante people to come and terrorise us. He is claiming that this is his land; but it is not true.
“He cannot come from Etsako East local government area to own a land in Akoko Edo. He took the vigilante boys to where our kinsman was sawing his wood in my own area. This is a place where my great grandfather lived and died, it is over 300 years that we settled here. He is from Agenebode and we have no connection with them at all. Since the colonial era was abolished, Erhurun-Uneme has been on its own. We don’t do anything with them. We have nothing in common.
“We have minerals in that land. The police invited us on the 2nd of February. When we got there, they said we should be peaceful that land case is never the responsibility of the police but that any of us who felt cheated should go to court. And I told them I am ready to go to court.
“In 1981, we had a dispute on this land which led to a commission of inquiry. The white paper released by that commission blamed the Okpella people to have entered our land. Even the forest officer who gave them permit was dismissed from service.
“I want the government to come and give us a boundary so that every body will know his area. Since he jumped from Etsako East to come to Akoko-Edo to drag our land, it means he does not know his boundary. So I want the government to come and demarcate the boundaries so that he will know,” the Erhurun monarch said.
On his part, the Okwokpellagbe of Okpella, A.Y Dirisu, said the immediate cause of the recent fracas was the sawing of wood in the land, adding that it was not the entire Okpella that has problem with Erhurun but only Ogute.
He said the wood they were bringing was sawn by somebody from Okpella and Erhuhun people attacked the person, prevented the boy from carrying the logs out of the community as they claimed that the land belongs to Erhurun.
According to the traditional ruler, the report showed that the land belongs to Okpella not Erhurun, and Okpella has boundary with Damgbala.