…Orogho chief seeks Gov Obaseki’s intervention
The elders and people of Orogho Community in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State, have contradicted the claims of Joseph Okueku, a Delta State Chief and his supporters from Agbon Kingdom, in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, in a heated border and crude oil derivative rights dispute between both communities.
The leaders of Orogho Community say the claims of the Agbon Kingdom Community representatives’ amount to an effort at land grabbing and sowing the seed of communal crisis.
The Orogho Community leaders are consequently calling on Edo State Governor, His Excellency Godwin Obaseki, to use his good offices to intervene in the matter.
They described as false and spurious, a statement credited to the said Chief Okueku, which was published in a national daily newspaper on Monday, May 15, 2023. They further said the statement was capable of scuttling the peaceful co-existence with the Urhobos, Itsekiris and Igbos living in the dukedom.
Speaking on behalf of elders and people of Orogho Community in a press statement, Pa Ferguson Egharevba, the Odionwere of Orogho , lamented the actions of Chief Okueku, saying they amounted to an aberration in Benin Kingdom.
Pa Egharevba said the boundary between Orogho Dukedom in Edo and Eku in Delta State, is the Ethiope River, which is a natural boundary regularised by the National Boundaries Commission, (NBC) in conjunction with the Surveyors-General from both states, as harmonised in a report dated November 25, 2017.
Pa Egharevba, further observed that Chief Okueku confirmed that Agbon Kingdom is in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State and actually the people are not with him in the crisis which he is brewing.
Egharevba wondered how some Delta State indigenes, who, have been allowed to use Orogho land for farming and sundry purposes and settled there under the Benin Traditional Authorities, would try to circumvent the privilege by extending Agbon Kingdom across the state boundaries and claim ownership of territories in which they are customary tenants in Edo State.
Egharevba listed Obagie Numuamen, Obanakhoro, Owuo, Iwevbo, Ekigbe and Ugbigun as territories under the control of Orogho Dukedom which the enogie, has both administrative and traditional power to oversee, since the Urhobos, Itsekiris, Ijaws, Igbos and others, living there, owe their allegiance to the Oba of Benin through the enogie.
He further recalled how the Urhobos of Iwevbo under Orogho Dukedom, led by one Chief Eyitoye Efe, who, have consistently demonstrated their loyalty to the Oba of Benin, recently debunked the false claims of Chief Okueku and his cohorts, alleging that Iwevbo is now a community on its own in Orogho, to enable it deal with the oil prospecting companies as a ‘Host Community’ to achieve their selfish interest.
He added that it was apparent that Chief Okueku’s actions were a bid to covet oil exploration benefits after he might have deceived and misled oil prospecting/production companies in the area to treat these Urhobo-based areas in Orogho Dukedom as “Host Communities” under the Petroleum Industry Act.
This, he said, was without recourse to the fact that the Odionwere and elders of Orogho, gave consent to the foundation of Iwevbo before the Oba of Benin appointed an enogie to rule over the dukedom in January 1988.
Egharevba is therefore appealing to, Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin and President Muhammadu Buhari, to intervene, before the said Chief Joseph Okueku and cohorts engulf the two states in an interstate communal crisis.
He asserts that a purported host community cannot exist in an already known, established and documented host community in the same dukedom.
Egharevba further advised the authorities of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to withdraw the letter given New Cross Petroleum Company to deal with “these sycophants from Delta State”, against the original Orogho Dukedom in Edo State which has the statutory right.
The NUPRC should also apologise to the people of Orogho Dukedom for the error and embarrassment the purported letter may have caused Egharevba demands.