Fresh Crisis Looms in Warri as Ijaws Give Itsekiris Ultimatum Over 'Missing' Kinsmen
BEVERLY HILLS, September 10, (THEWILL) - Fresh crisis is looming in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta State as Ijaws and Itsekiris are currently engaged in bickering over alleged 'missing' persons whom Ogbe-Ijaw people alleged were abducted by some 'militia Itsekiri youths'.
The Ijaws of Ogbe-Ijaw, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State have alleged that five of their kinsmen are missing after some “Itsekiri 'militia Itsekiri youths attacked their kinsmen who were emissaries at NPA community in Warri.
Following this development, THEWILL learnt that the Ijaws of Ogbe-Ijoh have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the alleged Itsekiri attackers to release the 'missing' persons as well as restore all valuables allegedly stolen from them, failure of which they threatened dire consequences.
But in a counter claim, Chairman of the Itsekiri National Youths Council (IYNC), David Tonwe, denied the involvement of Itsekiri youths in any attack on any Ijaw group, pointing out that his people had no problem with any Ijaw community.
Addressing newsmen in Warri on Wednesday over the matter, the Ogbe-Ijoh Governing Council, Ogbe-Ijoh Youths Council, as well as Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), however called on the Delta State Government, security agencies and Itsekiri leaders to wade into the matter to avert a major crisis.
The group charged the state government to prevail on the Itsekiri youths who they alleged abducted the Ijaw youths to release them without delay, asking further that all the valuables they stole during the attack be restored.
Speaking to newsmen, Lucky Clement Oromoni, chairman of Ogbe-Ijoh Governing Council and the President-General of Ogbe-Ijoh Youths Council, Christmas James, as well as the Chairman of the Ogbe-Ijoh Warri Kingdom of the IYC, Comrade Liberty Arerebo, condemned the alleged unprovoked attack by the Itsekiri youths.
Giving a graphic detail of the incident, the community representatives said that the youths of the community were returning from a meeting with an oil servicing company, Saipem, situated within the Warri Port, when they were suddenly attacked by a hoard of Itsekiri youths, led by one Emiko, alleging that the Ijaw youths had encroached into their territory.
The community leaders claimed that the gang of youths led by Emiko over-powered the Ogbe-Ijoh youths, who were about 16 in number, using dangerous weapons on them and robbing them of valuables, including cash and phones, all running into millions of naira.
“Five of our boys are still missing now from yesterday's incident; Boma Ebiarede, Daubiri Wuruakpo, Zitangbei Doutimi, Sir Ditorusin Lawyerwei and Krokongha Biniebi. They are all from Ogbe-Ijoh and we can't find them. We have reported this and up till now we are still looking for these people.
“Recently, precisely on Monday, my community boys went to Saipem to press an issue over a contract done by indigenous contractors, to demand payment and other benefits for the contractors. When we got there the company welcomed us and discussed amicably and agreed.
“Therefore, we are giving a seven-day (starting from today) ultimatum to Emiko and his Itsekiri group to bring back all the things they took from us; the money is over N500,000, more than 18 phones were taken from us,” one of the community representatives said.
When contacted however on the development, the Delta State Police Command dismissed the purported claim of 'missing' persons , saying it could be false or probably a ploy by those laying claim to the territory to escalate the fracas.
Spokesperson of the Command, Celestina Kalu (DSP), told THEWILL on telephone that she had spoken to the Warri Area Commander of the Command, ACP Hussein Rabiu, on the matter and was informed that steps were already being taken to resolve the fracas.
“I've spoken to the Area Commander, he said it's not true. He said NPA people wrote him as the thing happened inside NPA. He said it's a small problem and that he has invited the two communities for dialogue. He said 30 people entered the place and 30 people left, so there's nobody missing in Ijaw. May be they are just using that to escalate the matter,” she said.