Fresh tension has mounted the Benin River as well as Delta waterways in the Niger Delta region, as several Ijaw traditional rulers were allegedly stopped from accessing Olodiama community to install a new traditional ruler for the Ijaw people located in Edo State, BigPen Online has gathered.
*FG, Oba Of Benin accuse as masterminds behind stall coronation
The installation of the new traditional ruler, HRM Alagba Bunafa, the Pere of Olodiama, an Ijaw Kingdom in Ovia North Local Government Area of Edo stste was trancated on Tuesday by soldiers who allegedly overan the community.
The troops were allegedly deployed by the Oba of Benin, who had been accused of making several attempts to annex Olodiama Kingdom as part of Benin Kingdom.
The Ijaw traditional rulers who were on their way to Olodiama via the Benin River were reportedly stop half way as news filtered in that soldiers had blockage access to the community Monday night.
The development, a source said is already causing tension among Ijaw and Benin communities as some Ijaw youths have threatened to also disrupt traditional activities of Benin Kingdom.
BigPen Online gathered that the paramount ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketakpe (Agadagba), the Pere of Iduwimi Kingdom on the Atlantic fringe in Ekeremor council area of Bayelsa and Delta state, were among the monarchs stopped from performing the installation rites on the new monarch in Edo state.
Following the development, the Ijaw monarchs who had left their various Kingdom in Delta state including those from Bayelsa State have to stop over at the Warri club jetty, Delta state where they address journalists of the incident.
Addressing newsmen, the spokesman of Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama who spoke on behalf of the monarchs, accused the federal government as well as Oba of Benin over the reported deployment of troops to stop the installation of the new monarch for the people of Olodiama Kingdom in Edo state.
He said that the stalling of the coronation by the Federal Government agents and Edo state government was a desecration of the traditional values and norms of the Ijaw people who forbid the situation whereby their traditional rulers would set out for an event and get bar from accessing the venue of the event for no just reason.
Giving a chronological details of what transpired, Gbenekama said that the monarchs and their entourage comprises of their chiefs were on their way to the coronation ceremony of the King of Olodiama Kingdom but got informed that soldiers had lay siege to the community for reasons yet to be fathom.
“We just got information, actually throughout the night that there was a military siege in the Kingdom.The people, elders, youths protested and they were cleared out this morning only to hear again that they have blocked all access to the area. As it is now, nobody can go in through land to the Kingdom neither can anybody come out.
He said that the action of military who he accused of acting a script was an an abberetion, and unprecendated to their history for their Kings to leave their palace and bar from accessing their own sister Kingdoms by external forces.
“This to us is desecration of the traditional institution in Nigeria, most especially the Ijaw people of Niger Delta, and the gods wouldn’t be happy with this treatment of our people. Our monarchs are being degraded, treated as second class citizens, not to talk of being regarded as second class Kings.
“This is unacceptable. They were on a peace mission to celebrate their kins and kindred of Olodiama Kingdom. One wouldn’t known why the military went there to mount road block. This is very unacceptable. The Kings tried to go to Olodiama but they were repealed by the military”.
“We are not happy over it. This is not an issue of militancy, neither an issue of criminality. For the federal government to be able to talk to the people they need a head (King) to talk to and the people say they want a head (King) that they can discuss with or government agency can discuss with and the same federal government that is seeking for peace is saying they should not have a direction? It is an abberetion and something that we can never accept.
“The Ijaw nation is not at war with the Nigeria state, Ijaw Kings are not at war with Nigeria state. The best they have being doing is to ensure there is peace in the Niger Delta region but this is what the Nigeria federal government has succeded in paying them with.
The Benebowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom said that the incident has disenchanted the people of the various Kingdoms who had wanted to facilitate with the Olodiama monarch, saying “their subjects and chiefs are angry. We want to say those in authority should put an end to this maltreatment”.
He said that the monarchs were going on a peace mission and to falicitate with their kinsmen over the coronation of the new monarch and see no reason why soldiers should be deployed to stop them.
According to him, over the weekend the Nigerian Navy inaugurated 20 sophisticated gunboats at the Warri naval base and some of monarchs being humiliated were in attendance when top military brass admonish the traditional institution to ensure there’s peace and order in their respective domain.
“We (monarchs) also promised the Nigerian Navy that we will work with the Nigeria military and law enforcement agency to ensure that criminals wherever they are found would be exposed. I don’t know if this is how people who have devoted their life to work with the government for the seek of peace should be treated. It is unfair and it is not good at all.
“If in the upland we are not allowed to move about, we wonder what would happen in the Rivers. Therefore we want to plead with the Nigeria authorities to give peace a chance, we really want to be part of this coronation.
He however alleged that the Oba of Benin may have instructed the military to storm the community in a bid to truncate the planned coronation ostensibly because he want to annex Olodiama Kingdom as part of Benin because of oil resource in the Ijaw community.
“From what is happening we can deduce the hand of Oba of Benin is in the plot to stop the coronation of the Ijaw monarch in Olodiama.
‘The Benin Kingdom has been struggling to annex the Olodiama Kingdom as part of their territory because of the oil and citing of the Sea Port project so one wouldn’t be surprise when this kind of thing happen. We deduce the hand of the Oba of Benin is behind what is happening. it is just the face of the military but the hand of the Oba of Benin”.
Speaking on whether Olodiama have a monarch before now, Gbenekama said, “they had kings before but there has been an interregnum so they are in a bid to install a new King because the period of the interregnum is over so they want to install a new one and this is happening.
“We are making frantic efforts to go there but information at our disposal suggect that the place has been condoled off. Some other Royal Fathers that have gone there were pushed back so we are not expecting that ours will be allowed to pass. We are just making the world to know of the maltreatment being melted out to our traditional rulers who have sworn to maintain peace in the Niger Delta region.
He said that the implications of the incident is that the federal government has succeded in drawing the entire Ijaw nation who have been drumming for peace into the Olodiama crisis, appealing however that the monarchs be allow access to their own sister Ijaw Kingdom.
Gbenekama also appealed to the Godwin Obaseki-led government of Edo state not to draw all Ijaw Kingdom into the crisis that they have generated in Edo state.