• Tony Igele

Gelegele EPZ: Bini Group Warns Ijaws Against War Threats

BENIN—THE Benin Unity League, BUL, a socio- cultural organisation in Edo State comprising Benin intellectuals and professionals, has warned Ijaw in the state to stop beating drums of war and allow the government to commence work on the multi-billion naira Gelegele Export Processing Zone, EPZ, saying that the claim of ownership of Gelegele land by the Ijaw was not only criminal but clear mischief.

The group was reacting to the statement by the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, which insisted that the Gelegele land belongs to Ijaw, contrary to the Supreme Court ruling on the matter on August 19, 1983, which held that the Ijaw in Gelegele were tenants of His Majesty, Oba Akenzua II, the Oba of Benin.

The BUL statement by Prof. Denis Agbonlahor, Prof. O.G. Oshodin and 34 others, noted that Ijaw settlers as well as Itsekiri and Urhobo at Gelegele were welcomed over 100 years ago as tenants and some as war refugees due to the accommodating nature of the Bini.

It said: “We have relied on the facts of history and the finality of the courts of law, in our insistence on the rule of law, in peacefully accommodating our tenants and settlers.”

We are not unmindful of the fact that the sudden interest in Gelegele is emanating from the economic potential of the area. The will of the Bini should not be tested for the consequences may not be bearable.

“The position of the BUL is therefore, a clarion call to the IPDI and others beating drums of war to join hands with the Edo State Government to ensure that the bold effort to develop the seaport in Gelegele comes to fruition.”

After all, if a seaport is developed therein, is it not for the benefit of all and sundry? Let there be peace,” it stated.

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