Ben Dunno, Warri
Over 200 displaced indigenes of Ugboegungun community (an Itsekiri settlement) in Escravos River, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state, have pleaded with the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiamme Ikenwoli, to assist in fast-tracking their return to their ancestral home.
The community’s indigenes, who presented their case for a peaceful return to their homeland in an open letter addressed to the Warri monarch, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, in Warri, on Tuesday, noted that they were victims of oppression by few powerful forces in the community.
The letter signed on behalf of the community by Pius Madamedon, Sunday Edema, Godwin Ogedegbe, Samson Edemadundun, Mrs. Otsanibi Jaleno, Benson Ayemidejor, Abe Urowayinor, Abi Edema, Debi Omebeyinje and Mrs. Olufe Edema, urged Olu of Warri to look into their plight and return them to Ugboegungun to live the normal life style they are used to with their families.
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They recounted how life had been made so difficult for them after their unlawful eviction from the community since February 12, 2018, when the military were used to chase them out by some of their kinsmen and appealed to the royal father to use his influence to reintegrate back to their homeland as they have to other home to go.
The displaced indigenes who claimed they owned about 90 percent of the houses in Ugboegungun, alleged that they were chased out of their homes by some community leaders who they opposed their style of leadership after they had occupied the position for more than nine years without any meaningful development in the community.
According to them, “these were the same individuals who contacted the military men to invade the community on February 12, this year and chase them out after labelling them security risk due to their demand for equity, justice and fairness in all dealings between the community and the oil companies operating in their area”.
They explained that due to this ugly development, they have lost their means of livelihood as well as some valuable property, adding that most of them now roam the streets of Warri, Sapele, Benin, and other towns aimlessly, even as their children have been denied learning in the school they attend in Ugboegungun.
While disclosing that effort to get police protective intervention to return to their homeland was denied based on the assurance of the Olu of Warri to mediate in the matter, the people lamented that the matter was still being allowed to linger despite the traditional ruler earlier promise to resolve the crisis.
It was learnt that every effort made by the Olu of Warri to resolving the issue were often met with strong resistance from those in the community who masterminded their being sent packing who obviously does not want them to return to their homes.
They however appeal to the Olu to act fast in resolving the issue so they can return to their homes and continue to live their normal lives again.
“We have no other King or Kingdom but his Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the Olu of Warri,” they stated.