Ownership Of Sapele: Okpe Leaders Give NPC One Month Ultimatum
WARRI, DELTA, June 03, (THEWILL) – A growing tension is rearing its ugly head among the Urhobos over the ownership of Sapele as Okpe leaders have accused the National Population Commission (NPC) of lending itself to suppression of truth and outrageous propaganda of falsehood in the verdict of the Sapele Land Case.
The plaintiffs, namely, Chief Ayomanor and Chief A. Edwin on behalf of themselves, Chiefs and people of Okpe clan on one hand, and the defendants, Ginuwa 11, His Highness, the Olu of Itsekiri for himself and as representing the Itsekiri people of Sapele on the other were in contention on the land case.
The bone of contention is 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.
They are particularly disturbed by the use of 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 Supreme Court.
At the end of an emergency meeting in Sapele, Wednesday, the Okpe Community leaders asked the commission to withdraw the book from circulation to avoid members of the public being misled from riding on falsehood and misrepresentation.
They also asked the commission to do a retraction in the print media and apologize in writing to the Sapele Okpe Community for the embarrassment and pain caused by the publication of the said falsehood.
The leaders warned that unless the commission complies with the two demands within 30 days, it would commence necessary legal action to call the commission and its consultant to order.
It would 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 an extra mile 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.
This, according to them, is also by virtue of the provision of the Apportionment of Assets and Liabilities Regulations, 1954 and also by a Deed of Assignment dated the 15th of 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.
A number of top Okpe Sapele Community leaders were in attendance including Senator David Dafinone, Chief D. O Abeke, Chief Itodo Joseph Ogodo and Chief Sunday Temiagin.