To Engage Okirika leaders on peaceful resolution
“ELEME WILL NOT SIT BACK AND WATCH YOU SHRINK OUR TERRITORIES ” – KING CHU TO NEIGHBOURING KINGDOMS
The Oneh Eh Nchia X, Paramount Ruler of Ogale and Egbere Emere Okori Eleme Rivers state, His Royal Highness King Dr. Amb. Appolus Chu JP has declared that the people of Eleme will not sit back and watch their territories invaded and taken over by neighboring kingdoms as he and his council members will not hesitate to employ all legal apparatus to protect the territorial integrity of Eleme Kingdom.
King Appolus Chu made this known during a press conference at his palace in Ogale clan, Nchia Eleme in response to the allegations of incessant destruction of crops and economic trees of Eleme farmers and illegal encroachment on Eleme soil by her neighbours, mostly Okirika.
King Appolus Chu noted that there have been reports of regular attacks on Eleme farmers in their farm lands as well as encroachment on Eleme soil by some persons alleged to be Okirikans, which amounts to contempt of the supreme court judgement of 1957 that clearly identifies the geographical mapping and boundary of Eleme Kingdom in relation to there neighbors.
King Chu added that the government of Sir Dr. Peter Odili in the year 1999, set up a panel of inquiry into the communal crisis between the people of Eleme and Okirika which was succeeded by a boundary adjustment committee that further placed a new demarcation between the two neighboring communities following a tradeoff agreement reached, just to maintain peace, but their Okirika neighbours have continued to disrespect and disregard this peace treaty by further encroaching on Eleme land beyond their boundaries which is highly provocative.
In His words “Around 1999, we also had an issue and peter odili set up a panel of inquiry and white paper was issued, the boundary adjustment committee was set up to identify the areas and for the purpose of peace, there was a give and take and the government have been able to place a boundary between Eleme and Okirika.
Eleme people had to adjust even when we were not satisfied for the purpose of peace, but we still observe that our Okirika brothers are still crossing over to our area to establish structures. This is undermining the strength of Eleme people and we will not sit back and watch them encroach into our territory”
King Appolus Chu stated that he does not believe that the traditional rulers of Okirika are aware of the encroachment on Eleme soil by their subjects and as such his council members have resolved to communicate their traditional rulers and leadership to notify them of the developments and charge them to call their subjects to order, stressing that anyone erecting structures on the soil of Eleme is doing that at his or her own risk as Eleme people will certainly engage the apparatus of the law to secure their territories.
King Appolus Chu further stated that it is there responsibility as leaders to maintain peace and therefore will not tolerate any action that will provoke their youths to resort to self help while calling on the entire youths of Eleme to maintain peace and remain calm as the issue will be resolved amicably.
He also warned other neighbouring communities planning or already encroaching on Eleme land to desist forthwith as the people will not hesitate to protect their ancestral territory.
Also addressing newsmen at the conference, the Paramount Ruler of Ekongor community in Alesa, Nchia Eleme and member of the Peter Odili boundary adjustment committee in 1999, Chief Peter Olukanwi stated that he has witnessed four successive communal crises between Eleme and Okirika as a result of land disputes, adding that the lands disputed for are located at the back of Aleto, Alesa and Akpajo to the west and Alode, Onne, Eteo and Ekporo to the east and that these communities have had wars with the Okirikans as far back as 1946 which he has on record.
He however said prior to 1946, precisely in 1885, there was a serious war between the people of Eleme and Okirika but that of the 1946 laid a foundation for a legal suit instituted by King Samuel Adoki against Samuel Ngoke and Michael Igwe from Eleme, both of blessed memory.
Chief Olukanwi said the suit which began from the High court in Port Harcourt finally ended at the supreme court in Lagos where a judgement was issued clearly stating that Eleme land ownership begins from the water edge and there has been no appeal against the judgement ever since it was delivered.
He said the Peter Odili commission of inquiry in 1999 identified and predicated there report on the supreme court judgement but however appealed that the Okirika people be allowed to settle as customary tenants on a total of one thousand feet (1000ft) from the water edge to enable them cultivate, but not to extend beyond and claim other parts as they are currently engaged in.
“The Peter Odili commission of inquiry confirmed that Eleme has title to the land up to the water edge, that the remote causes of the conflict between the two neighboring communities is land, but referenced to the judgement of the supreme court of Nigeria, in 1957 actually identifies that Eleme owns the land to the water edge, but that because the Okirika people have been existing there as our customers, they were given the right of customership as our customary tenants, that every where they have their settlement on our land, they should be allowed one thousand feet so that they will have where to bath and plant but not to extend and keep claiming that there land has no end except it gets to River Niger” he said.
Chief Peter Olukanwi further said that Eleme land has a seal by virtue of the supreme court judgement as anybody encroaching on the land is taking a risk, adding that the sons and daughters of Eleme will no longer sit back and and watch their neighbours intimidate them and take over their properties as they have resolved to initiate a process of recovering their properties while thanking the governments of Dr. Peter Odili and Rotimi Ameachi for their efforts in maintaining peace between the two kingdoms.
In the same vain, the Paramount Ruler of Alesa clan, Nchia Eleme His Royal Highness, Prof. Isaac Eyi Ngulube had earlier raised an alarm over the destruction of Alesa farm lands, crops and other produce by the Okirika neighbours in a letter addressed to the Area Commander of the Nigeria Police Force, Eleme command who has already launched an investigation to determine the causes of such actions.
Credits: Michael Osaro