Ownership Of Sapele: Okpe Leaders Give One-Month Ultimatum To National Population Commission

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Okpe leaders have accused the National Population Commission (NPC) of lending itself to suppression of truth and outrageous propaganda in the verdict of the Sapele Land Case, which was fought in the name of Chief Ayomanor and Chief A. Edwin on behalf of themselves and Chiefs and people of Okpe clan (Plaintiff) v. Ginuwa 11, His Highness, the Olu of Itsekiri for himself and as representing the Itsekiri people of Sapele (Defendants).

The Okpe leaders described item 7 at page 3 of the listed events in the book, titled: National Population Commission Historical Events of the South- South Geo- political Zone of Nigeria (1940-2006) in Delta State, compiled by Prof E. J Alagoa and printed by Onyoma Research in Port Harcourt particularly words like 'A land dispute between Sapele-Urhobos vs. Itsekiris' and 'The Itsekiri Victory over the Urhobos' as an intentional, malicious and false misrepresentation of the verdict of the highest court of the land.

Rising from an emergency meeting in Sapele, on June 2nd 2010, the Sapele Okpe Community leaders asked the commission to withdraw from circulation and destroy the book to avoid members of the public being misled and trouble makers from riding on falsehood and misrepresentation in the book.

They also asked the commission to do a public retraction in the print media and apologize in writing to the Sapele Okpe Community and indeed the entire Okpe community for the embarrassment and pain caused by the publication of the said falsehood.

The leaders warned that unless the commission comply with the two demands within 30 days, it would commence the necessary legal action to call the commission and its consultant to order

It could be recalled that the trial judge granted the Plaintiffs, Ayomanor and Omarin and members of the Okpe Clan who are the blood descendants of the founders of the settlement now known as Sapele lands, a declaration of title that they are the owners of that land commonly known as Sapele Township.

The West African Court of Appeal confirmed the verdict of the Supreme Court while the Colonial Government not only recognized and respected the Sapele Okpe Community Ownership of Sapele by paying the rent reserved in the Lease to the Sapele Okpe community, the Government went on extra milestone to acknowledge the Sapele Okpe ownership of Sapele land by vesting the rights of the Sapele Okpe community Land Trust Association at independence in the Governor of Western Region for Sapele Okpe community by virtue of the provision of the Apportionment of Assets and Liabilities Regulations, 1954 and also by a Deed of Assignment dated the 15thof March, 1960 and registered as No. 60 at page 60 in volume 313 of the Lands Registry, Ibadan but now kept at the Lands Registry office at Asaba, Delta State wherein the land comprised in the Sapele land lease was assigned by the Governor of Western Region of Nigeria to Sapele Okpe Communal Lands Trustees.

Those in attendance include Senator David Dafinone, Chief D. O Abeke, Chief Itodo Joseph Ogodo and Chief Sunday Temiagin

Ebireri Henry, Media Officer to the Okpe Clan wrote from Lagos state.

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