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Itsekiris, Ijaws ethnic groups protest alleged subjugation in Edo council

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By Francis Ogbuagu, Benin City

The Itsekiris, Ijaws and other ethnic groups in Ologbo, Ikpoba- Okha local government area of Edo state, on Wednesday, cried for help from the Nigerian government, alleging that the Binis are oppressing them in their land by foisting an administration new to them.

The ethinc nationalities during a protest  march in the area, said that after 400 years of them living independently in Ologbo the Binis, now want to bring a tradition not known to them.

Speaking at a press conference held in the community, spokesperson of the group, Comrade Gregg Temisan Luma, said the Itsekiris live in Ologbo, Ikara, Kolokolo, Ajoki, Ajatiton, Ajamogha, Abiala 1 and Abiala 2.

According to him, what was happening in the area was capable of sparking a community war, and accused the Enogie of Ologbo, Prince Owen Akenzua of allegedly claiming to be their head.

Comrade Lima said the Itsekiris and the Ijaws have their independent heads. He explained that the boundary adjustment made when Edo and Delta states were created, and the use of Ologbo River as a natural boundary, was a mistake which he said was responsible for the Enogie to now lay claim of ownership of Ologbo and other riverine communities in the area.

“The Itsekiris and Ijaws as a people have their own unique identity and will not be subsumed into another tribe in this modern-day Nigeria,” he said.

“Therefore, we don’t recognise any dukedom put in place by the Benins to tactically obliterate the identity of the Itsekiris and Ijaws from Edo state and their right of self-determination in Nigeria.

“These communities have their native laws, customs and local administrative system before the advent of British colonial rule in the areas they are today. We have never been an appendage of the Benin Kingdom at any given time in history, and will not accept that aberration of a dukedom to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.

But reacting to the development, the General Secretary of Ologbo dukedom, Deacon Friday Osazuwa, in company of elders of the community, said the protesters were faceless.

He said: “The people that protested are faceless people. We don’t know them. The real Itsekiri people in Ologbo, the Ologbo people know who owns the land. The  land belongs to the Oba of Benin. Everybody knows that the Odogbo River is a natural boundary,” he stressed.

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