Published On: Wed, Jan 10th, 2018


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Sir, it is sad that your prestigious office\humble disposition has become an albatross around your neck. Fighting for the underdog has its intricate consequences, especially when you are misinformed. More so when you have not talking the pain to personally investigate the details, as the burden of vulnerability becomes a signpost.
The Malam Maina issue coupled with your latest memo to the National Assembly in respect to demanding change of the community’s name on the Maritime University as reported, calls to question your role as an unbiased Attorney General of the Federation -AGF.

Sir, you were misinformed.
(1) The present site of the University and it’s environ was created as a Local Council Area under Warri Division in 1952 and named GBARAMATU LOCAL COUNCIL AREA, an Ijaw enclave. This was one of the seven councils of the Warri Division. All Gazetted under the then government of Western Region. Others were Ogbe Ijoh, Egbema, and Isaba\Diebiri. LCAs all four (4) in Ijaw communities. The remaining three (3) which were mostly inhabited by the Itsekiris were Ode Itsekiri, Warri and Benin River Local Council Areas. Even then, only Ode Itsekiri was exclusive of the Itsekiris. These details are available at the National Archives and in London.
(2) Subsequent creation of States in 1967 and 1991 when Delta State was created and especially October 1996 when additional LGAs were created by the Gen Sani Abacha regime, this was when former Warri Division with 7councils became 3 LGA. One Council Area in Koko town for the Itsekiris, one in Ogbe Ijoh town for the Ijaws and the third in Warri for the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo as a metropolitan city. However, the Itsekiris did what they are presently attempting by misinforming the federal authorities that Ijaws were never part of Warri Division, therefore the Ogbe Ijoh Council, now known as Warri South West, should be relocated to Ogidigben in Itsekiri enclave. As a military government, it did without proper investigation, but reverted only when the crisis emanated. But then death and destruction have been recorded.
(3) Recall or be informed that when the previous government started the University project, the Itsekiris were against it vehemently. They did not claim ownership of the community; rather, they claimed the site will not be accessible, because it was sited in Tompolo’s evil den. They described him severely as a criminal in whose territory a federal institution should not be sited. As they claim that students and staff will be kidnapped by the criminals of that unsafe environment. They even suggested that Koko an Itsekiri town in Warri North was better, because, according to them it could be reached by land and water. Everything was done to stop the government, but they failed.
When this government was sworn in 2015, they raised the matter again, this time it was from the angle of corruption. As they claim that the previous government fraudulently purchased the University site from a criminal for N13billion and that no work has been done on the site. It was on this premise that the Minister of Transportation announced the cancellation of the University. There was a loud ovation in Itsekiri land. They did not hide their joy. On the contrary, the Ijaws and the immediate community mourned. Recall also that the Minister of State for Petroleum took it personal with his counterpart, arguing that his ministry was ready to take charge of the project. PANDEF which the Itsekiris rejected took up the issue with our listening President as a core demand. Then, the Acting President decided to visit the site with only the Ijaws of that community welcoming him and behold, he was amazed. Structures including Lecture Theatres were ready and the Acting President gave a declarative order. ‘This University is starting academic session next year” end of quote.
(4) The next step by our brothers is the agitation that the community where the institution is sited is Itsekiri land and that the original name is OKERENGHIGHO and not OKERENKOKO. Dear Sir, they have tried this line earlier with the National Assembly, but failed. Unlike you, there are Assembly members with more facts than you do. If they were in want of advice from the Executive on this matter, they would have perhaps consulted you earlier when our brothers visited them on an open hearing. In any case, as far back as 1952 the original Ijaw name of that town was AKANRANKOKO which our more urbanized/ educated Itsekiri brothers could not pronounce properly, but sounded as OKERENKOKO, which in its true sense is already corrupted by the Itsekiris? They also corrupted Egbema as Igbenma. We the Ijaws are originally Izons, but accepted the English corruption. (IJAW). In fact the earlier discoverers refer to us as Ijohs. Nonetheless, we know ourselves as (Izontu) meaning Ijaw people. Therefore, it is not the Itsekiris that will tell us what name to bear.
(5) AGF, it is very derogatory for you to have accepted that Ijaws who are aborigines of the Niger Delta are classified as ‘migrant settlers’ to the Itsekiris from Yoruba and Benin land. Itsekiri is a sub tribe of those ancient tribes. Ijaw is also an ancient tribe. Please find out. Ask more questions.
And if I may ask, would you use the same parameter to accept Hausas in Jos as migrant settlers to Beroms of the Plateau? Don’t do to others what you may not accept others do to you.
Power remains transient.
(6) As I write, a group in Yoruba nation has just declared that no portion of their land would be ceded for a cattle colony and they specifically mentioned the Six (6) Yoruba States in South West and ITSEKIRI in far-away Niger Delta. This should further inform you that the ITSEKIRIs in the Delta South of the Niger Delta are actually from Yoruba land with the King’s dynasty coming from Benin.
The Itsekiris are the smallest ethnic group in Delta State in the mist of Six (6) major ethnic groups, with Urhobo being the singular largest group, occupying largely Delta Central senatorial district. The Itsekiris like the biblical devilish woman who demanded that King Solomon should share the baby into two parts, have consistently worked against every developmental stride in the region, except it is sited in their bedroom. They fought against the creation of Mid-western Region, Bendel and Delta State. Yet, they have been the greatest beneficiary having produced two Governors. (Ibori and Uduaghan).
In conclusion, I will advise that you remove your hard earned name and reputation from what could lead to an unnecessary blood Bath and death. The signs are too obvious. Afterwards, how could you have a village with over 5000 inhabitants, yet none of the acclaimed aborigines live in it? This is turning logic on its head. Can the Gbagis claim to own Abuja without one Gbagi indigene found in Abuja? Yet they want a Gbagi name for the town. How does that help their course? I am sure the National Assembly will prefer a more peaceful Niger Delta.

  • Manijar Seigha is the Chairman of Niger Delta Nationalist Forum -(NDNF) Lagos

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