PREMEDITATED, UNPROVOKED, BLOODY, AND BARBARIC ATTACK ON THE DEFENCELESS
PEOPLE OF OKERE-URHOBO KINGDOM OF WARRI METROPOLIS
Planned and Executed by The Olu and His Itsekiri People
1. MR. EDWARD EBURU
2. MASTER JULIUS EBURU
3. MR. VICTOR OMOSOHWOFA
4. MR. FELIX OGHNEMINE
5. MR. INNOCENT OKORO
6. MR. BONNIFACE NKEM
The Olu and his Itsekiri people resumed their attack on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom in the early hours of Sunday the 6th of June 1999. At this stage our people had no option than to defend themselves.
It should be noted that the level of sophistication of the arms and ammunition used by the Olu's Itsekiri army during the attack on the people of Okere-Urhobo kingdom are among the best you can think of in modern warfare. They include such equipment as self-loading automatic machine guns, bazookas, grenades and dynamites as could be easily seen from the houses pulled down by the Itsekiri people in the heart of Okere-Urhobo kingdom. It is sad to note that the Nigerian Army in Warri headed by the Commanding officer, LT. COL. GARLCO and his notorious aides, namely: CAPT. KASWE and LT. AJIBOLA, openly took sides with the Olu and his Itsekiri people in killing, burning and destroying the properties of Okere-Urhobo people.
We dare say with all sense of responsibility that most of the army officers in Warri immediately before and during the attack, including LT. COL. GARLCO, were on the pay-roll of the Olu and his Itsekiri people who directed them to do their bidding during the attack on the people of Okere-Urhobo kingdom
A proper appraisal of the attack by the Olu's Itsekiri army on the people of Okere-Urhobo kingdom between the 4h and 7th June, 1999, and the enormity of the killings and the destructions that took place during which over 100 lives were lost and over 1,500 houses were completely destroyed under the clear supervision of the Commanding Officer of the Nigeria Army in Warri, LT. COL GARLCO and his military aides, would show clearly that he LT. COL GARLCO was to a great extent heavily responsible for the destruction that took place. Otherwise there is no way anyone could explain such massive destruction taking place over a length of time and covering such an extensive area under the eyes and nose of a military commander on land in Warri metropolis.
We also wish to state the unhealthy role that the Chevron Oil Company has been playing in Warri and on this particular occasion by helping the Olu and his Itsekiri people in providing the helicopters that lifted some members of the Itsekiri army from Aruton in Excravos to Warri to come and join in launching the premeditated, unprovoked, bloody and barbaric attack on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom from the 4th - 7th of June 1999.
This goes to confirm the allegation that Chevron Oil Company helped to provide the sophisticated arms and ammunition that the Itsekiris have been using to fight in the Warri area. We wish that the Government of Nigeria and the entire International Community and Nigerians in particular should take note of this role played by the Chevron Oil Company.
It is worthwhile to mention at this stage that the leaders representing the Itsekiris at the meeting of the three ethnic groups, namely: Urhobo, Ijaw and Itsekiri with the Governor, the Deputy Governor and other Delta State Government functionaries stated that they Itsekiris heard rumours that the Urhobos were going to join the 1jaws in attacking them, and so they decided not to wait. Hence they launched the attack of the 4th - 7th June 1999, as they were pushed to the wall. These were statements made by three Itsekiri representatives, namely; JUSTICE F. O. ATAKE, leader of the delegation, MR. JOHNSON AYOMIKE and AFOLABI UMUKO at different times during the meetings. It was at this juncture that CHIEF A O. OKUMAGRA (JP), the leader of the Urhobo delegation, demanded that the Itsekiris be declared the aggressors of the attack of 4th - 7thJune 1999 on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom in Warri metropolis and it was accordingly noted.
I wish to take this opportunity to invite members of the press and the entire International Community and Nigerians at large to take time and visit Otor Orere in Okere-Urhobo kingdom to see things for themselves. That is the only way you can see what actually happened. It is worse than what you see on the TV screen in Kosovo, in Yugoslavia. You need to see it for yourself.
Among the important land marks and relics destroyed by the Olu and his Itsekiri army in Okere-Urhobo Kingdom are Ogwan R' Olodi, the very well known ancestral hall of the people of Okere-Urhobo kingdom, the Traditional Okere market of the people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom and other Traditional places and relics of great importance.
It should therefore be seen from the above that the objective of the
Olu and his Itsekiri people are:
It is also important to remind you that the Olu and most of his noise-making Chiefs are complete stranger elements and tenants in Warri metropolis. They cannot lay claim to one square inch of land in Warri metropolis which they inherited from their fore-fathers, as compared to the people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom and others of a like situation whose landed properties in Warri metropolis are through inheritance for a period spanning over six and half centuries. In fact, the father of the present Olu, who was the Chairman of the Itsekiri! Socio-Cultural Co-operation, is a tenant of the people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom in Warri metropolis as confirmed in consent judgment in the Warri High Court in Suit No. W/28/65.
It is also necessary to remind the Olu and his Itsekiri people who claim
to believe in the rule of law to concede to us the people of Okere-Urhobo
Kingdom who defeated them in the celebrated Okere Warri land case in Suit
No. W/48/68 in the Warri High Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court
of Nigeria in Suit No. SC/309/74 where the courts found among other things:
(i) That the ancestors of the people of Okere-Urhobo kingdom namely Idama, Owhotemu, and Sowhoruvbe founded Okere;Okere is in Warri metropolis and therefore part of Warri and Warri therefore cannot and can never be the exclusive homeland of the Itsekiris. It is therefore most contemptuous for the Olu and his Itsekiri people to continue to parade the Olu as the overlord of all lands in Warri, including Okere. Indeed it is the Olu's ambition to exercise his non-existent over-lordship rights over the people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom that fired the Olu and his entire Itsekiri people into launching the premeditated, unprovoked, bloody and barbaric attack on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom between the 4th and 7th of June, 1999.
(ii) That the Olu's Kingdom did not extend to Okere; and
(iii) That the Olu's over-lordship rights did not extend to Okere.
It must be recalled that the Urhobos have refused to join in the confusion and fighting between the Itsekiris and 1jaws in Warri in spite of the regular provocation and all the attempts by the Itsekiris to drag the Urhobos into their conflicts with the Ijaws. This we have done in order to help contain the conflict itself. The present premeditated, unprovoked, bloody and barbaric attack by the Olu and his Itsekiri people on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom is therefore aimed at giving the impression that the Urhobos and Ijaws are together in fighting the small Itsekiri tribe.
This the Olu and his Itsekiri people have done with the aim of eliciting the sympathy and possible support of the unsuspecting International Community and the Nigerian public at large, just as they had always done in the past. This is why it has therefore become necessary for us to call this press conference, in order to tell Nigerians and the International Community at large the truth, the whole truth and the undiluted truth about the Itsekiris and their antics.
You have heard it all and we wish to say with all emphasis that though painful, it is not our intention to go on a reprisal course. However, we want to say with all humility that we reserve our rights as human-beings to exist and therefore will defend ourselves whenever they come to attack us again.
We believe in peaceful co-existence with all our neighbours and want an arrangement that will make for lasting peace in Warri area that will eventually lead to peaceful co-existence with all our neighbours.
We therefore wish that the following arrangements be made as a matter of grave urgency for the attainment of lasting peace in our Warn area:
(i) Reversion of the Olu's title from Olu of Warri to its original title of Olu of Itsekiri. This is the genesis of all the Warri problems. The title was changed from Olu of Itsekiri to Olu of Warri only in 1952.Finally, we call on both the State and Federal Governments, the International Community and all persons of goodwill to come to the aid of the Okere-Urhobo people by way of reliefs and compensation towards the envisaged massive re-construction work in Okere-Urhobo Kingdom, Warri.
(ii) Creation of Okere-Agbarha Local Government Area for the Urhobo indigenes of Warri in line with the recommendations of Justice Nnaemeka Agu's Commission of Inquiry Report, Justice Alhassan Idoko 's Commission of Inquiry Report and General Magaji's Report.
(iii) The Olu and his Itsekiri chiefs as well as the Army Commander in Warri, LT. COL. GARLCO and his notorious military aides should be tried for their actions as required by the laws of the land in respect of their premeditated, unprovoked, bloody and barbaric attack on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom between the 4th and 7th of June, 1999.
(iv) The Olu and his Itsekiri chiefs should be made to pay for the unprecedented wanton destruction visited on the defenceless people of Okere-Urhobo Kingdom starting from 4h - 7h of June, 1999.
Signed: For and on behalf of the
URHOBO INDIGENES OF WARRI
CHIEF B. O. OKUMAGBA, JP
(The Otota of Okere, Warri.)