Dear High Chief Johnny,
I write to inform you that the open letter which you earlier wrote and published by the Gbaramatu Voice on January 18th, 2017, did not get to His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli;The Olu of Warri because it was assigned a “JJC (Johnny Just Come) status” after a surface analysis of its content. Normally, the office of the warri Monarch shreds letters or contents of this category even before it gets to the table of His Majesty,especially when-
(i) It lacks any facts, verifiable evidence, authoritative references, links or empirical validations and as such unqualified and unpalatable for His Majesty’s reading consumption.
(ii) It was written without a proper knowledge and understanding of the various cases of litigation surrounding the subject matter.
With all due respect chief, I want to inform you that 6 persons on different occasions have been relieved off their positions because they allowed open letters and publications contents marked with “JJC Status” to get to His Majesty without proper checks and screening and I do not intend to be the 7th. So for future purpose, please do ensure your subsequent correspondence meet the above listed requirements if it is to receive a second line attention at all.
(1). I read in your open letter discrediting our claims of ownership to okerenghigho which your clan forcefully occupied and later changed to okerenkoko saying it belongs to Gbaramatu clan and according to you word,
“Your majesty, till this very moment, I am yet to see any justification to why Itsekiri are claiming ownership of Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu kingdom.There is no history or verifiable record indicating that Okerenkoko community land belongs to Itsekiri, no such record anywhere, and if there is any being circulated it is false.”
High chief Johnny, I do not know if you have access to the internet but for the purpose of enlightenment, I have smuggled out three (3) out of the numerous cases we have in our vault which support and validate our claim of ownership to the land and these can be verified anywhere. They are :
CASE No 1
In Suit No.w/20/46, Adurumokumor (Ijaw) acting for himself and on behalf of Bakokodia Ijaw Community took action against Kponu (Itsekiri) of Omadino for a declaration of title to the land described as Bakokodia. The true Position is that the Ijaw inhabitants of Bakokodia and its environs came from Western Ijaw and were permitted by Chanomi Iye on the authority of Omadino people to settle there. Ademola J. dismissed Adurumokumors’ action on the ground that the people of Bakododia had failed to prove their title to the land claimed by them.
As the Ijaws persisted in demanding tributes and rents from those using the land and fishing in the rivers, Omadino people, represented by Chief Sillo and Edremoda Golly, sued Adurumokumor on behalf of Bakokodia people in Warri High Court and successfully obtained a declaration of title over Bakokodia and the surrounding lands and rivers. The court awarded damages for trespass against the Ijaws who, according to the Judge, were put on the land by Omadino people who acknowledge the overlordship rights of the Olu of Warri. The Ijaws went to the West African Court of Appeal and lost.
CASE No 2
After this, the Ijaws continued to disregard the above judgments, and Omadino people sued them for an order of forfeiture at the Warri High Court. Ultimately at the Supreme Court, the Ijaws accepted a compromise judgment in which they clearly acknowledged Omadino’s ownership of the land. See Suits Nos. W/29/51, WACA No. 3707, W/37/61 and SC/393/64.
CASE No 3
Okenrenghigho, another Ijaw settlement in Gbaramatu also fell under the axe of the Omadino people. In Suit 30/62 Chief Sillo (Itsekiri) versus James Uluba (Ijaw), Justice Obaseki held that the Ijaws of Okerenghigho are tenants of Omadino. The Ijaws then appealed to the Supreme Court presided over by Elias, C.J., Sowewimo and Ibekwe S.C.JJ. in Suit No. SC.37/1973. They lost. The effect of these judgments is that the whole of Gbaramatu area is peopled by Ijaws who are customary tenants on lands owned by Omadino people under the over Lordship of the Olu of Warri.Secondly, the original map of Bendel State shows clearly these lands with these names as Okerenghigho and Bakokodia as against the political name Okerenkoko and Kokodiagbene.
(2). In your letter, you cited an instance to Ugbolokposo community in Uvwie and according to you,
“For instance, the way Itsekiri are claiming ownership of Ugbolokposo community in the middle of Uvwie kingdom ( an Urhobo kingdom, that is exactly how the Itsekiri are claiming ownership of Okerenkoko community in the middle of Gbaramatu kingdom ( an Ijaw kingdom), which can never be possible”
High chief Johnny, may I inform you once again that the above comment forms another reason why your open letter was assigned a JJC status as it is laden with irrelevant conclusions borne out of the deficiency of a fact-based argument. I do not know your level of understanding of the international geographical and geopolitical terrains but for the purpose of enlightenment, I will like to take your mind to some places of the world that render your argument a malnourished one.
(I) The island of Guantanamo Bay is in the country called Cuba yet, it is owned, managed and fully operated by the United states govt.
(II) The landmass of the country called Lesotho is one hundred percent inside another country called south Africa and yet South Africa has never for once claimed ownership of the land.
If we were to go by your statement,these places ought to have been taken over by those in whose possession they fall under but unfortunately, your example is not only invalid, it is also not a sound one as there is a stack difference between ownership and possession. I also implore you to check your map or check them on google to verify these facts. Back home, the people of ugbolokposo do not speak urhobo language nor Ijaw but itsekiri language with one ancestry, history, culture and their allegiance is to the warri Monarch and NO ONE ELSE.
Below, is one of the cases rest regarding our ownership of Ugbolokposo which has been laid to rest by the Supreme court of Nigeria.
OTUEDON & ANOR V. OLUGHOR & ORS. [1997 – Supreme Court]
In a statement by Osibakoro Otuedon, Johnson Maleghemi and Donald Iku in Warri Tuesday, they argued that Ugbomro was part of Ugbolokposoland: “The issue was finally laid to rest by the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Friday, July 18, 1997 in Suit No. S.C. 98/1993 in the case of Osibakoro D. Otuedon and another (for themselves and on behalf of Ugbolokposo people) [Plaintiffs/Appellant] and Ambrose Olughor and six others (for themselves and on behalf of Ugbomro village, and on behalf of Abadi and Ogbe families of Erovie quarters, Effurun) as defendants/respondents. It is reported in (1997) 7. S.C.N.J 411 particularly at 444 lines 33-40,” the release said.
(3) you also made mention of living in peace and in your words “This is the time for us as a people to unite, live in peace and harmony, we should not create unnecessary problems for our unborn children, certainly we brought nothing to this world and we are taking nothing out of this world”.
High chief Johnny, while I commend your call for peace, I must also say that living in peace in this way, shows only an entry-level understanding of what the context of peace is all about. Has peace ever worked anywhere there is no justice? does peace entail forcefully and illegally occupying a place while you expect the owners of the place to cheer you up? is that your conception of peace? can there be peace without justice?. High Chief,even the bible (Isaiah 48:22) confirms that there can be no peace for the wicked and I must state here that the oppressor family has been living in peace because the bastard child of the oppressed has not grown up. It wont be business as usual again.
The Itsekiris are a peace-loving people and we are willing to co-exist with whoever values and understands the meaning of peace in its holistic context. However, we will not hesitate to do or act otherwise,when shown otherwise.
May God also give you the understanding of Solomon, which is “The Spirit of conscience”, Amen.
God bless His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli;
The Olu Of Warri
God Bless Warri Kingdom
God bless the Itsekiri Nation
Mr. Felix Odeli
Founder, The Itsekiri Chat Group