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The conflict between the Ijaw and itesekiri of warri metropolis between may and July 1997 could be regarded as inter – communal feud as a result of economic and political tussles.
There are some Issues worthy of note
The political Issues
This involves land ownership tussles, when the urholo indigenes of warri were presently memorandum to the justices Alhassan Idoko led judicial commission of inquiry on the 19th of June, 1997 at the petroleum Training institute centre auditorium effuru warri, the urhobo testified that the ethnic conflicts between ijaw and itesekiri in warri North, South and southwest local Government Area was due to political and economic problems
Chief Benjamin Okumagba stated that the olu of warri ogiame otuwase II is a ruler in exile and it is an abomination for a traditional to buy a piece of land for his palace chief okumagba told the commission that the father of the present Olu, Erejuwa II begged his father (Okumagba’s father) for a piece of land. Also, okumagba stated that the federal government succumbed to the bidding of the olu of warri Ogiame Atuwatse II and his itesekiri rule warri metropolies through river – rine wards of ode – itsekiri, obodo and ibeji.
Also, the transfer of councilmeant for the ijaw clan of ogbeh – yoh, Isaba and Abaramatu on the 13th of march 1997 to the itsekiri and the citing of the headquarters in an itsekiri settlement called ogidigba in warri North local government, also triggered of the conflict between the communities of ijaw and itsekiri on 17th May, 1997.
THE TITLE OF OLUSHIP
More so, going memory lane chief Bajamin Okumagba allega that changing of the tittle of olu of itsekiri to olu of warri in 1952 by chief obafemi Awolowo Action Group government is one of the remote causes of the tribal feud because of the Urhobo and the ijaw in warri see it as a punitive action against them because 1960 – 1966 they were against Action Group rather they voted for Dr. Nnamidi Azikwe NCNC
Tendering a letter of 13th Septemeber 1952 from the acting civil secrtary western rgion to the chief secrtary to the government, chief Okumagba insisted that subsequent move by the royal father to create chieftaincy title from the itsekiri to redlect warri and the warri communal land trust by the then Action group of the itsekiri was the genesis of the constant communal feud in warri,
The ijaws also complained that the oil companies operating in the area could not embark on any development programme in the areas, instead according to chief E.K. clark, a frontline ijaw senator representing warri and its environs during the second republic testified before the justie Alhassan idoko led judicial commission of enquiry at the petroleum training institute conference centre (PTI) warri in 19th June 1997 that instead rendering help to the various Ijaw communities the oil companies decide to help the olu of warri ogiame otuwatse II thereby leaving the communities in a devastating and helpless state.
According to the chief clark the olu is involved in fund misappropriation and resources from the oil companies operating in the areas especially, chevron Nigeria limited to intimidate people in an attempt to Lord it voer, every body including the ijaws and the Urhobo’s of warri.
This is economic sabotage because instead of keeping the ijaws and the urhobos who’s the oil companies are situated and bless by God as a gift of nature. The oil companies in collaboration with the olu of warri decide to embezzle and babish the money to the masses. For example, lake the case of Ugbodo community who took the oil company to court for allegedly paying the olu of warri the sum of one hundred million naira (N100m). This is money that can be used in developing the communities being wasted in an individual while the masses suffer, in fact, this is purely on economic sabotage.
Though the arrowhead of the discontent was the relocation of the warri south local government headquarters from ogbeh – ijoh in 1997 this in which many lives and property were lost in the warri metropolis
An ijaw leader, Mr. Ekpebibe Akeh, enumerated the historical background of the ijaw relationship with the itsekiri dand the oil companies especially, chevron (formally Guif oil company) which he said, started operartion there in 1960. He disclosed this in the Guardian News paper of 13th October 1998 while conducting the Guardian reporter round the ijaw communities. Mr. Ekpebibe traced the ethnic group feud from the colonial days when forcados, an ijaw town was headquarters of Nigerian and as a district, had a native court sited at Ogidigben for the ugorodo, thus establishing itsekiri leadership over Ijaws.
The Issue of the relocation of warri south Local government headquarters from ogheh – ijaw to ogidigben in 13th March 1997 was a return to colonial times.
Subsequently, there are counter claims on the true of the ownership of warri from all ethnic group corners example concerned itsekiri professionals Guardian
Thursday 1st May 1997 in an adventional title
“ITSEKIRI REQUEST FURTHER ACTION BY FEDERAL MILITARY GOVERNMENT”
Stated among other tings that the ijaws enclave settlement of ogbeh – ijaw, Egbema and Abramatu all in warri metropolis are itsekiri land.
They also cited a suptreme court judgement suits number sc/37173/3. in the same way the itsekiri regard the urhobos as customary tenunts of itsekiri
This was in line with statements of a prominent itsekiri leader and retired judge of the defunct bender state, justice franklin Atake in the front page
News story, 13th June 1997 with the headline – ijaws, Urhobos are tenants in warri. Justice Atake claimed that the ijaws came from their homeland of western ijaw while Urhobos migrated from Agbarho – Otor.
More so, the ijaws and the Urhobos also have their claims, for example, the Guardian of 30th April 1007 titled “URHOBO INDIGENES OF WARRI” chief Benjamin Okumagba (JP) referred to itsekiri clainms as a repeact of the itsekiri and the olus usual false propaganda and reckless in timidation of government functionaries over the warri crisis.
This was actually reported on 29th April in the Guardian Newspaper. In this report titled” THE OLUAND HIS ITSEKIRI PEOPLE HOMELAND THEORY” chief Okumagba stated that every human being has a homeland and that he olu and his itsekiri leader homeland is in ode – itsekiri and their respective villages not in warri metropolis. He also stated that the olu and his chiefs are strangers in warri metropolis. He cannot lay claim to a square metre of land acquired through inhertance as compared to his humble self and other Urhobos of like situation whose landed property in warri metropolis are acquired through inheritance for a period spanning 600 – 650 years. He also disclosed that the father of the present Olu was a tenant of okere Urhobo clan. Warri as confirmed by the consent judgement in suit number w 28/65 and situated that thuse is nothing like warri kingdom but there is okere Urhobos egbama, Ogbeh – Ijoh, Abavamatu, Agbara and itsekiri kingdoms, all in former warri local government area and each of these have their own homelands.
The ijaws maintain their claims in statement by chief E.K clark, that the olu and the itsekiri’s who claim to be leaders of though have no land in warri metropolis and their place is Ode – itsekiri.
He also stated that the ijaws are the bonafide indigenes of warri, the ijaws were already there and it was called ogbe – ijoh village and was support by citing confessional statement by the late chief Dore Numaa, an itsekiri leader in 1923.
To understand clearly the location of both the ijaw and itsekiri communities it is necessary to study the map attached to this study in page 1. The ijaw /Itsekiri communities are location in Delta state and Delta state was carved out of the old Bendel state.
According to the west by the ijaws and itsekiri in the north by the Benin in Edo state and in the South by Isoko and the Ijaw. There is also vital issue that is worthy of note also and that is issue of lease.
LEASE AGREEMENT FROM 1898 – 1930’s
In 1906 Ogbeh – ijoh in warri urban areas was leased to the British colonial government by itsekiri chiefs at an annual rent of 100 pounds for 99years.
Alders Wilkey and pessy towns (Now Davdu) were leased by itsekiri chiefs in 1908 at an annual rent of 60 pounds. On 5th February 1911, itsekiri chiefs of the colonial government at an annual rent of 30 pounds leased Agbassa village. These three important leased were existed by chief Dore and Ogbe Yowuren on behalf of itsekiri people as olu representative on 5th October 1904, late Ogbe Yowuren an itsekiri chief and depaty of chief Dopre, as Olu representative granted a parcel of land to masser john Holt and inconsideration of the surrender of the said lease by the grant the said chief ogbe made another grant to the said John Holt on 16th October 1911.
On 5th February, chief Dopre Oghe and Egbegbe all itsekiri chief people granted apart of warri Land to messer. African Traders company, the deed of which was registered as 15/1907 in the registry of deeds calabar and on 6th 1918 the said lease was assigned to messer. John Holt and company (liver pool) ltd. And registered accordingly.
On 6th July 1908, chief Dore acting as Olu representing granted a parcel of land at warri to Rollard Harvis Dewetty acting as Aitorney of German firm, know as masser pangentecher and co. the said lease was later assigned to messer. John Holt and co. (Liver pool) ltd. In October 1917, No wonder chief pessu said in 1922, that it was chief Dora one had to go for a lease in warri. If one desires to have it a British company messer. African Association to him to obtain a lease of a part of warri in 1898. also he made a grant of an adjoining land to another Brish company messer. Miller Brother in 1901. The two companies were taking over by UAC ltd.
In 1979 and 1958, the Olu of warri granted to UAC a revised lease of the above name two leases.
In 1900, the colonial government of Nigeria applied for and by 1901, was granted a large parcel of land known as “NWKI WARRI” on yearly oriental basic for a term of 99 years for the purpose of building residential quarters, barracks and offices.
The deed of this grant was sign by chief Dopre and ogbe for and on behalf of themselves and the itsekiri people. No wander justice webber in 1926 in the case of ometain against chief Dorte said in terralia.
The defendant (Dopre) as a successor to the olu of jekris and the paramount chief of the jekris has exercised… socereign rights over all there lands.
Moro so in 1922, prima pendo and other as descendants of olu Akengbyna I, sued chief Dopre over the control of that parcel of land in warri known as ogbeh – ijoh and Aider’s town and terranded and account of rents received by him from the ten colonial government of Nigeria in respect to the said lands.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The relocation of warri south local government headquarters from ogbeh – ijoh to Ogidigbeh in 13th March 1997 by the military government of Late general Sani Abacha. Other News reports on the announcement follows broadcast by the media resulted to protest sand demonstration by ogbeh – ijoh people.
More so mass media’s function is to educate the masses, especially the conflicting communities on the negative implications of such crisis.
Persuasion function is another function of the mass media. The masses should be persuaded to eschew violence and embrace peace, Organising special programmes for the paper to watch can do this.
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Therefore, the aim of this study is to defermine the contribution of the mass media in the resolution of ijaw / itsekiri crisis. More so, examine if mass media Organised specific c programme to help resolve the crisis, if there is any specific programme designed for that purpose, the extent met the need of feuding communities and helped to resolve the crisis.
Therefore, these are the areas to be determining by this study.
The effort mass media made to improve the socio-economic and political development of both communities is equally to be determine by this study.
More so, there are aims/objectives of media if the society is deprived of media, the society will mostly feel the impact of the observe of the media.
Therefore, the extent, which the media can help the society is a vital issue. The individual is placed in a certain social/physical environment, which he assimilates through a higher form of perceptions stocking item later in his memory where they make up the actual content of his brain at each moment. The main channel, which acts as a relay between the environment and the individual, are the mass media.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
These research questions will reflect in the questionnaire. Responses will be elucted from the respondents in order to confirm where mass media played any role in the resolution of ogbeh – ijoh/itsekiri crisis the research question are:
1) What specific programme has the mass media organized to change attitude and behaviour of the conflicting communities?
2) What has been the contribution of the mass media in the resolution of ijaw/itsekiri crisis?
3) Did these programmes meet the needs of the feuding communities?
4) Did mass media report grievance of the communities or is it only when there are conflicts?
5) Does mass media care about the grievances of the communities’ remote causes of conflit?
6) What effort has mass media made to improve the soci-economic and political development of both communities?
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
To effectively ascertain the role of mass media in crisis resolution of ijaw / itsekiri crisis the following hypothesis was tested.
H1: The mass media had not contributed meaningfully to the resolution of ijaws / itsekiri’s crisis.
H0: The mass media contributed meaningfully to the resolution of ijaws / itsekiri crisis.
H2: The mass media have not organized programmes to change attitude and behaviour of conflicting communities.
H0: The mass media organized programmes to change attitude and behaviour of conflicting communities.
H3: The mass media does not care’s about the grievance of the communities.
H0: The mass media does not care about the grievances of the communities only when there are conflicting.
H4: The mass media care about the grievances of the communities only when there are conflicting
1.5 DEFINITION OF TERMS RELOCATION
According to the Advanced learner’s Dictionary relocation is the moving into a new place or area the relocation of population, the has to do with the compulsory evacuation with resettlement in a New area.
Dictionary defines conflict as to be in opposition or in disagreement, fight, struggle, and quarrel.
According to the same dictionary resolution is having the quality of being resolved. Fixity or boldness or determination.
From the research hypothesis it is assumed that the mass media did not contribute positively to the ijaws/itsekiri crisis resolution and this had prolonged the speedy resolution of the crisis.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Research of this nature is not without problems as there are myriads of shortcomings, which the researcher encountered such as:
a) In accessibility of some relevant data: both rivalry communities find it difficult to give confidential information, which they treated as confidential material. Therefore, the researchers were not able to obtain all relevant information.
b) Time constraints: the time is short and so, the researchers did not have enough time to go beyond the scope.
c) Lack of fundamental fund is required to do beyond the scope.
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