Port project: Obaseki dismisses Ijaw group’s ultimatum
The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has dismissed the ultimatum issued by an Ijaw group over the construction of the Benin River Port in Gelegele community, Ovia North-East Local Government Area of the state.
The group, Ijaw of Edo State Emancipation Movement, had in a statement on Wednesday, given the state government a 21-day ultimatum to implement six peace conditions over the port project, failure of which it said that both the government and its foreign partner would be treated as enemies of the community.
According to the statement by its coordinator and spokesman, Joel Keniwenimowei and David Ebipamojo, respectively, the group urged the government to provide a letter of intent, with regard to the “Gelegele-Gbene seaport project,” and make available an environmental impact report, “if any, to the Agadagba of Olodiama Kingdom and the Gelegele community.
It asked the government to produce and make available the Memorandum of Understanding it entered into with a Chinese construction firm to the Olodiama Kingdom and “accord the Gelegele community and Olodiama Kingdom, all the rights, privileges, benefits and royalties accruable from the project operations as owners of the land.”
It also called on the state government to immediately shelve its plan to change the name from “Gelegele seaport to Benin River Seaport,” as such was “evil” and would be resisted.
“Failure to do so (meet the conditions), we, the owners of the land, shall have no option but to treat the presence of the Edo State Government and its Chinese partner, as enemy invaders in our land,” the statement added.
But Obaseki described the ultimatum as inconsequential, adding that the claim of land ownership by the group was false as “no community has jurisdiction over any land in Nigeria.”
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said, “All the land in the country is presided over by the government and the head of the (state) government, who is the governor, is the one who has authority over land, according to the Land Use Act of 1978.
“Therefore, these people who made these claims do not have the power to make the claims. A community does not have the power to superintend over any land in the state and the laws of the state are sacred and sacrosanct concerning this position.