The Ijaw ethnic group in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, have issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Ondo state government to revert with immediate effect the ceding of their ancestral land to Irele and Ilaje Local Government Areas, in the newly created Local Councils Development Areas.
The traditional rulers, made up of Prof. Sunday Adejimola Amiseghan, the Kalasuwei of Apoi land and Pere Zaccheaus Doubra Egbunu, the Agadagba of Arogbo-Ijaw, led the protesting Ijaw communities in Akure on Thursday.
The aggrieved communities with their first class traditional rulers staged a massive protest at the venue of the Public Hearing on the Bill for the Creation of LCDAs.
The people are shocked that the whole of Ukparama 1 and II and Ogidigba were ceded to Ilaje, while part of Apoi 4 and 5 were ceded to Irele Local Government.
The viewed the action which Balkanizes the Ijaw communities who are indigenous to Ese-Odo to the two Yoruba speaking local government areas as brazen and provocative.
Also, the protesting Ijaws said they want more LCDAs to be created out of Ese-Odo Local Government instead of ceding their land to Ilaje and Ikale.
Prof. Amiseghan, the Kalasuwei of Apoi land, speaking at the Public Hearing on the Bill for the Creation of LCDAs, vowed that they would reject any action leading to the ceding of their ancestral land.
“We are the only non-Yoruba speaking people in Ondo State. We are ready to defend our cultural and traditional identity. We are making our observations regarding the creation of LCDAs. The Ijaws have been marginalised a long time ago in Ondo State.
“We are special people in Ondo State because we have bitumen and abundant oil. We should be given special condition. We demand for more LCDAs in Ese-Odo. We will never concede one inch of our land to either Ilaje or Ikale. The Ondo State Government must withdraw that map,” he said.
Pere Egbunu who was represented by Ondo Chairman, Ijaw National Congress, Bonsuwei Ominidouha, said they would resist the ceding of their land.
“We are a peace loving people. We are calling on the Ondo State government to stop the nonsense. INC will fight the course to make sure that one inch of our land will not be ceded. The whole of Ukparama 1 and II and Ogidigba are ceded to Ilaje. Part of Apoi 4 and 5 are ceded to Irele Local Government. We do not want to fight with anybody.
It was failure of leadership that led to the Ijaw/Ilaje crisis and we do not want a repeat of that war,” he added.
It would be recalled that a total of 33 LCDAs were created out of the existing 18 local government areas of the State.
Instead of creating LCDAs from the Ese-Odo which is inhabited by the Ijaws, the Acting Governor of Ondo State, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa, an Ilaje man, decided to share the parts of the Ijaw Local Government Area to two Yoruba local Government Areas.