The Ozoro Kingdom in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta have denied having a hand in the gruesome killing of 12 indigenes of neighbouring Oleh community.
The two communities have been involved in bitter land dispute and the recent killing of 12 indigenes of Oleh community at the Ada farm land in Oleh had fuelled fresh acrimony between the two neighbouring communities who are incidentally the headquarters of the two local government councils in Isoko.
In a World Press Conference last week titled “PRESS RELEASE ON THE GRUESOME KILLING OF THE OLEH TWELVE: A CLEAR CASE OF PREMEDITATED MURDER AND CALL FOR JUSTICE:” A REJOINDER, President General of Ozoro Progress Union (OPU), Hon. Nicholas Areh said Ozoro Kingdom condemn in totality, the unfortunate, sad and gruesome murder of indigenes of Oleh describing it as barbaric, unacceptable, inhuman, callous and savage.
He condoled with the families who have lost their dear ones and indeed the entire Oleh Community over the loss of these illustrious sons and daughters of Isoko land at this ruthless and harrowing incident which has left every Isoko indigene lugubrious
He urged the Nigeria Police Force Investigating Team to leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of the dastardly and very heinous act.
Read the full statement below:
Gentlemen of the press, on behalf of the Ovie and the entire people of Ozoro kingdom, I, Hon. Nicholas Areh (President General of Ozoro Progress Union (OPU) welcome you to this World Press Conference in respect of the above subject matter.
The attention of the good people of Ozoro kingdom has been drawn to a press release by the President general of Oleh community dated Tuesday, October, 27, 2020 on the caption: “Press Release on the gruesome killing of the Oleh Twelve: A clear case of Premeditated murder and call for justice”.
The Ovie, Community leaders and the good people of Ozoro kingdom without reservation, condemn in totality, the unfortunate, sad and gruesome murder of indigenes of Oleh numbering about 11 and one still allegedly missing at Ada bush, Oleh, as reportedly discovered and their bodies recovered on 16th October, 2020, and 21st October, 2020, respectively. The act is barbaric, unacceptable, inhuman, callous and savage. With heavy hearts and great distress, we condole with the families who have lost their dear ones and indeed the entire Oleh Community over the loss of these illustrious sons and daughters of Isoko land at this ruthless and harrowing incident which has left every Isoko indigene lugubrious.
We therefore urge the Nigeria Police Force Investigating Team to leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of this dastardly and very heinous act. We pray God Almighty to grant their souls a place of rest in his bosom.
C. Straightening the Misrepresented Facts:
1) While we empathize with those nursing the pains of this agonizing situation; it is only proper that some points in press release which is loaded with conjectures and phantasms and fanning into flames the embers of hatred and suspicion, be properly dissected and bring the true facts to bear.
The allusion “… Oleh indigenes killed in cold blood on Friday 16th October, 2020, at Ada bush, by persons believed to be from Ozoro Community” raises a lot of questions. Who are these persons from Ozoro? What are their names? Who saw them? How do they look? The said conjectured belief which dwells solely in the realm of suspicion is at best a product of delusion which cannot crystallize on any existential fact.
Hon. (Barr) Lucky Okperi who hired the deceased and missing persons to his land for farming purposes in Ada bush, owned by Oloro family of Oleh kingdom, should ordinarily account for the whereabouts of his workers and should answer investigative questions to offer assistance to the security operatives who are investigating the matter. To whip up sentiments, to diverse the focus of investigative activities to people who have no proximate knowledge of what happened is to simply act a script.
2). It must be emphasized that Oloro family land in Ada bush, Oleh, where the innocent citizens were hacked down by unknown and unidentified persons is not in dispute at all, and is more than two (2) kilometers away from the location of the parcel of land in dispute between some families of Ozoro and some in Oleh.
3). In obedience to the peace accord pursued by the then late Ovie, HRM Letter Adhekegba of Ozoro Kingdom and the current Odiologbo of Oleh, HRH Anthony Ovrawa, as traditional rulers of the two communities, the boundaries of the lands of Ozoro and Oleh were properly delineated by the two traditional rulers themselves with natural landmarks of Iroko tree, Swamp and Palm Trees plantation in the year 2000, which has been respected by all parties till date.
4). More specifically, one Odhomor planted the palm plantation from the agreed boundary line into the Oloro family side, which plantation is still in existence till date. The representatives of Odhegbe family of Ozoro at the said demarcation exercise are still alive to testify to same and they have since then strictly adhered to that decision.
It must therefore be clearly stated that the allegation that members of this family from Ozoro had consistently threatened the people of Oleh with dangerous weapons without any name specifically mentioned to have masterminded such consistent attacks is not only wicked but unfounded, and calculated to bring into disrepute the good image and reputation of Ozoro kingdom.
5). The purported letter of 21st August, 2020, which is a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Delta State, claiming to have reported an incident of dispossession of cutlasses, phones and Chainsaw, was a well calculated act of laying a foundation for the current unfounded allegations as no incident of such took place.
This piece of allegation of criminality must be well scrutinized. Thus, who were the indigenes of Ozoro that dispossessed Oloro family members of their work/farm implements? Why was there no report at the Oleh Division of the Nigeria Police Force? Why was the Area Police Command which is in Ozoro not petitioned to immediately fish out those involved? It is not enough to cook up cock and bull stories of criminal allegations; same must be substantiated with credible and compelling evidence on facts which must point irresistibly to a probable conclusion. Anything short of same must fall like a pack of cards!
6). It is never in doubt that disputes over boundaries of lands between Ozoro and Oleh dates back to generations past, it must be placed on record that such have always been resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms which have yielded results that brought peace; and same have been respected by families from both communities.
7). It is however, noteworthy to state that while the press release under reference accused Ozoro people of disrespecting decisions, which is not true, it has been characteristic of elements from Oleh Community jumping into the heart of lands owned by families from Ozoro, running into kilometers and have by this conduct disobeyed the directives of the Governor of Delta State through the Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee headed by Chief Edwin Uzor to the extent of breaking into the restricted area in dispute and have been erecting structures on same on daily basis by Oleh indigenes and those they surreptitiously sell these lands to.
The government of Delta State and particularly, Chief Edwin Uzor’s Committee is very much aware of the disobedience of indigenes of Oleh who have through their violent acts truncated several efforts of the committee to resolve the issues surrounding the disputed area.
8). If Ozoro people are actually troublesome and violent as the Oleh marksman has attempted painting to the world to believe, would it not have been easier to destroy the buildings being speedily erected on their lands? Of course! But the continuous suing for peace against all the provocative actions of the Oleh people has earned both the Ovie of Ozoro and the real owners of these lands the position of weaklings.
9). As against the sugar-coated lies from the pits of hell being painted by the said press release, the reprehensible posture of taking sides by the current leadership of Isoko Development Union in the course of the peace process before the chief Edwin Uzor committee clearly shows that someone is busy icing the cake of blackmail and discord instead of helping the peace process.
10). It is most unfortunate and condemnable in the strongest terms to drag Sir Raphael Afemari who has left the leadership position of President General of Ozoro Progress Union over seven (7) years ago into an alleged killing that took place on 16th October, 2020, even when the said press statement clearly exonerates him as not being a member of any of the land owning families that shares boundary with Oleh and has no interest to protect or serve.
This same man was the person who provided shelter for Oleh indigenes at Opute hall, Ozoro, when they had Communal Crisis with their neighbours and suffered 2012 flood; and in the two occasions, fed Oleh indigenes numbering over 2000 for periods of three (3) weeks and one (1) month respectively, through the financial support sourced from Ozoro sons and daughters!
Thus, if Sir Raphael Afemari had been at the forefront of violent agitations against Oleh, how could he have shown such empathy and support? It is hereby urged that those who are fanning the embers of discord and blackmail should urgently reconsider their stand. It is self-undoing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!
11). To allege that Sir Afemari and Hon. Nicholas Areh (current President General of Ozoro Progress Union) led youths, armed with sophisticated weapons with bulldozers to open up streets in Oleh lands with a depth of about 2 kilometers is a blatant lie. Was there any video that shows the presence of the duo at the Ozoro/Oleh road as painted?
It is a great lie to allude that streets were created in any land that forms part of Oleh. The established streets were created by the owners of the lands where the streets were created. The area the streets were created have never been in dispute. The swift action of the I.D.U President General to call on the law enforcement agents to stop the opening of the streets with an unfounded apprehension that is now dragging that part of Ozoro into dispute, is a clear case of bias and is highly condemned.
I.D.U is expected to be an unbiased arbitrator in this issue. Why did the same Chief Iduh Amadhe who acted as the whistleblower (who brought what was never in dispute into dispute) shut his eyes to the massive encroachment by Oleh people into the area marked out as being in dispute with the erection of buildings without calling the Oleh people to order? There is no doubt that the allegations being traded is just the acting of an age-long prepared script.
12). The indictment against HRM Anthony Ogbogbo, the Ovie of Ozoro Kingdom to have made a speech on 5th of August, 2020, preceding all the acclaimed recent successive violent attacks against Oleh people is very laughable. The said meeting was well recorded, and had His Majesty’s speech already published in the social media by Oleh people. It is gullible and callous of Oleh people to deliberately fabricate these allegations to whip up sentiments in their favour, whereas none of such can be gleaned from the video clip.
Gentlemen of the press, make time to listen to His Royal Majesty Anthony Ogbogbo’s speech and discern for yourselves if that was a call for war.
13). The alleged attack on Oloro family on 9th August, 2020 is untrue and a fabricated lie. It is also a delusion that Sir Raphael Afemari, Idisi Felix, Hon. Nicholas Areh and Prince Patrick Otekpo on 9/10/2020 went with armies of heavily armed youths to destroy any property(ies) belonging to Idivre and Ekre-Ethe families or any Mr. Desmond Obokparo Erijo. Basic questions that arise are: (a) At what time of the said day were the alleged destructions carried out? Are there any video clips revealing the faces of the names mentioned? Why were the Police not brought in to arrest those that carried out the destruction at the scene? The grave allegations made by Oleh against prominent sons of Ozoro are barely calculated to malign and assassinate their character.
14). Statements made by individuals on social media which are incriminating in nature cannot be transposed on others who never did. Criminal liability is personal and not vicarious. The robust criminal laws in Nigeria and those currently regulating the social media are sufficient enough to deal with such. To post a script of a transferred epithet is, to say the least, invidious.
15). On the highly condemned and unjustified killing of innocent indigenes of Oleh at Ada bush, a press release made by Oleh United Front (OUF) puts paid to the issue. An excerpt from the said press statement:
“The narrative that there was a clash is false, alarming and a deliberate attempt to deceive the public. Let it be known that there is no dispute on the land were (sic) the Oleh people were mercilessly hacked to death, as the Oloro family of Oleh that owns the land has secured a court judgment years ago in Suit No. HCO/13/1982.”
“There have been boundary issues between families of both communities and we have never seen it as a battle between Oleh and Ozoro”.
“To interpret what happened as a communal clash between both communities that have lived as neighbours for centuries is the height of mischief and we seriously frown at it”.
It is a clear case of mischief making for Comrade (Chief) Alakri to deny the obviously known truth (as contained in the excerpt produced above) within Oleh and beyond, and already published in different media channels, of the rift that ensued between Oloro family and the Odiologbo of Oleh on the one hand; and the interests of Hon. Lucky Okperi and the foreigners to whom the land was initially sold on the other hand, lends credence to the fact that the entire allegations are cooked up to whip sentiments against Ozoro people.
These obvious facts are to the effect that Oloro family land at Ada bush where the innocent citizens were hewn down is not in dispute between Oleh and Ozoro.
16). The Ada bush and the area in dispute between Egbedemi family of Oleh and Adokpe family of Uruto Community, Ozoro, are two different bushes, far apart, with a distance of about three (3) kilometers. It is wicked, callous and unfair to rub the deaths that resulted in Oleh bush on Ozoro people. It is unacceptable, condemnable and ill-advised.
17). Gleaned from the videos uploaded into the social media, the horrible deaths are not in tune with the known tradition of Isoko people. Sticking feathers to the ground, killing of women and children and littering of corpses numbering 11 is out of tune with the act of an average Isoko person even in a war situation.
18). It is also a known fact that in a bit to anchor and hatch the pre-planned racket of the well-orchestrated accusations, which still dwell in the realm of unfounded suspicions, the Chief Alakri had called on Hon. Nicholas Areh at about 8.00am in the morning of October 16, 2020, alleging that he was informed of Ozoro people preparing to prosecute a war against Oleh; and when he was told that there was nothing of such, and requested to supply some details to enable his Ozoro counterpart swing into action, the requests were sheepishly dismissed by him (Alakri). However, at about 10:57am the same day, and barely two and half hours after the call, the news of discovered persons already killed at Ada bush reached us with rude shock. Thus, the plan to rope Ozoro people into the gruesome act had been hatched!
19). On the issue of the disputed land which has no connection with the much condemned killings, the two communities had earlier agreed to oath taking and agreed on date and time, but upon arrival of the agreed spot with six (6) deities from Ozoro in readiness for the oath-taking, the rival family from Oleh led by one Alh. Ekpete Ogheneruemu Usman and his company came with foreign materials which were out of tune with the belief system of the parties and thus truncated the process just to show the insincerity and pranks being played by the Oleh rivals. All these, the Isoko Development Union (IDU), led by Chief Iduh Amadhe did not see anything wrong with, but rather took over the gloves and entered the boxing ring to champion a base cause such as this one.
Ordinarily, we have no intention to react to any publication, or arrests and detention(s) of any indigene(s) of Ozoro, who have been invited for questioning by security operatives on this issue, being that we have ordinarily pledged to support the investigation process to help in any manner possible to fish out the perpetrators of the killings, but for the shreds of lies, misinformation and heinous allegations levied against innocent persons and the entire Ozoro kingdom, we just thought it wise to simply straighten the records and let the public, security agencies and the government see the facts as they are.
While our heads are still bowed low in grief, we call on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the DSS, and the government of Delta State to put in their best and unravel the mystery behind the murder of the 11 Oleh people and the yet to be found twelfth person so as to look beyond the ill-motivated arrest of Ozoro indigenes and to resist any diversion or misleading intrusions into the investigation process that may attempt to sway the focus of investigation into the wrong direction.
We therefore, call on the IGP, the DSS and the government of Delta State to direct investigations into Oleh, particularly the leadership of Oleh, Oloro family, Chief Patrick Alakri and Honourable Okperi; these people are not telling the truth on this piece of land and the gruesome murder.
We urge the well-meaning indigenes of Ozoro, strangers living in Ozoro and our brothers and sisters in Oleh, to exercise and maintain a peaceful disposition towards each other and await the outcome of investigation. We also call on the rest of Isoko people to believe in Ozoro peoples’ claim of innocence, knowing that what happened at Oleh bush is not part of Isoko tradition of war.
We pray God to help fish out all those behind the gruesome murder of Oleh indigenes.
Thank you and God bless.
Hon. Nicholas Areh.
Ozoro Progress Union.