Urhobo Historical Society
CONSCIENCE, NURTURED BY TRUTH
LAGOS, NIGERIA. Monday, June 30 2003
By Itse Sagay
IN a purported response to my article entitled "The Itsekiris, Ijaws, Urhobos and the Political control of Warri Territory" one Chris Akiri launched a venomous, virulent, vicious and violent tirade of insults, abuses and disinformation against the Itsekiri Nation and myself specially. I shall come to that later. From what I could decipher from Chris' rantings, he had set out to establish that the Itsekiri Kingdom did not extend to Warri Township (Okere in particular) before the Urhobo from Agbaro-Otor migrated to Okere-Urhobo of today.
But beyond relying on the case of D.O. Idundun & Ors Vs Daniel Okumagba & Ors to establish that the Kingdom founded by Olu Ginuwa the 1st, the first Olu of Warri, did not extend to Okere, Chris Akiri's sound and fury came to nothing. Now in trying to counter my arguments in my earlier article, Akiri established a rule for discourses, namely - that "if any premise in a logical argument is false, the conclusion thereon cannot stand". Let me now hoist him on his own petard.
As noted above, Akiri indulged in lengthy quotations from Idundun's case to establish that the Itsekiri Kingdom did not extend to Warri. In fact, all Idundun's case decided was that Ginuwa the first died at Ijalla and he Ginuwa the 1st, could not have founded a Kingdom which included Okere. In other words, the facts of the case were limited to the Kingdom founded by Ginuwa 1, the first Olu of Warri. The court did not purport to make a pronouncement on the subsequent expansion of the Kingdom by Ginuwa's successors. In the 500 years or so since Ginuwa's death at Ijalla, there have been 18 other Itsekiri Kings, not counting the four Governors and Chief Dore Numa who ruled doing the interregnum of 1848-1936. And so how can Itsekiri founding of Okere be exclusively hinged on the territory controlled by only the first out of 19 Monarchs? So it is clear that Akiri's premises are false and his whole case evaporates with that grossly defective premise. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it not to crash.
Indeed, Ginuwa the first merely planted the seed of the Kingdom. It grew under subsequent Olus. As the revered Itsekiri historian, J.O.S. Ayomike has established in A History of Warri Kingdom it was Ijijen, alias Ogbowuru the eldest son of Ginuwa and the second Olu, who established Warri Kingdom, proper, basing his headquarters at Ode-Itsekiri (Big Warri). Ginuwa never got to Ode-Itsekiri. By Akiri's logic, since Ginuwa did not found Ode-Itsekiri, it cannot be part of Warri Kingdom. Thus Akiri's case epitomises a classic case of the dearth and death of logic, for he completely overlooks the expansion of the Warri Kingdom by the following subsequent Warri Monarchs: -
Indeed Ayomike notes that Irame, the second Olu, expanded the boundaries of the Kingdom by conquering neighbouring peoples and that Ojoluwa who reigned from about 1550 "commenced the process of integration of Ekpen's descendents of Okere with the local population of the Kingdom." So if Ginuwa the 1st did not extend his Kingdom to Okere, his successors did. Ekpen incidentally was of Benin origin and he was the founder of Okere and the progenitor of the Itsekiri Community of Okere.
It is important that since the Sapele case in 1941 (on which Akiri also builds his castle) and the Idundun case in 1976, the Itsekiris, who epitomise respect for the rule of law, have completely accepted and complied with the two decisions. On the contrary, the Urhobos and Ijaws have consistently defied the courts on all the numerous cases which establish conclusively that Warri territory comprising Warri South, Warri South-West and Warri North Local Government areas, belong to the Itsekiris. The cases include Ometan Vs Dore; Sillo Ors Vs Adumojurumor; Pessu & Ors Vs Numa; Aya & Ors Vs Okoro & Ors; Apoh Vs Perememighan; Pessu, Apoh & Olu of Warri Vs Brigbo & Ors; Chief Oloiki & Ors Vs Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees, etc.
In an attempt to denigrate the Itsekiris, Akiri also asserts that they aided and abetted white slave 'raiders' to enslave able-bodied Urhobo men. Can Akiri assert with confidence that Urhobos did not capture fellow Urhobos for sale to slave traders? By the way there were no white slave 'raiders'. Blacks raided blacks and sold them to white slave traders. Can Akiri swear that no Urhobo person ever sold another Urhobo into slavery? This puerile attempt to tar the Itsekiris as being singularly responsible for the enslavement of the Urhobos is despicable. The guilt of selling our own people into slavery is a joint one.
That is why I do not believe in reparation. The black man has always been his own worst enemy. It was so in the distant past and remains so today. Perhaps the most stupid and irrational utterance of Akiri in his gospel of hatred, was the bald assertion that I have never read any of the books of the history of Warri history. Akiri does not know me. We have never met. And so this is not merely illogical and irrational, it is arrant nonsense. I now come to the violent language employed by Akiri to make his case. He replaced logic, facts and reason with insults and sheer abuse. Here are samples.
Presumably there are no Urhobos mulattos.
The above is just a sample of the verbal violence visited on the Itsekiri by Akiri in a single article covering about one-third of one page of The Guardian. How many other Chris Akiris are there in the Urhobo population? In view of the Urhobo dominance of Delta State, how safe are the Itsekiris going to be if they continue to cohabit in the same state with the Akiris of this world? This is a very grave issue the Itsekiris will have to ponder on before the inevitable national conference. As for my poor self, Akiri calls my view ludicrous and preposterous. He does not stop there. He refers to what he calls my "crooked tricks" and calls my article a "rank prostitution of scholarship". Thus Akiri style of disputation is simply to replace rational argument with violent abuse, insults and more abuse.
I don't know this Akiri called Chris. Samson Akiri was my classmate over 50 years ago at primary school; CMS School Warri. He was self-confident, even brash at times. But he was warm, friendly and responsible" not destructive. Our paths have not crossed since those childhood days. Better still, I know Princess Monica Akiri, a foremost leader in the struggle for the liberation of the Niger Delta from Oppression and Injustice, who has sacrificed her time, energy and resources for the unity and progress of the Sister nation of the Niger Delta. So if Chris belongs to this wellknown Warri Family, it simply goes to show that every large family has its prodigal son.
My dilemma in having to respond to Akiri's virulent ranting, is that if I do not respond, the emptiness of his ferocious onslaught on the Itsekiris might not be appreciated. On the other hand, if I respond as I am now doing, I might dignify the gaseous emissions of a nonentity like Chris Akiri. I chose the second alternative, in order to expose Chris Akiri as a pseudo" intellectual. More seriously, if even only a minority of Urhobo elite harbour the sort of deep primordial hatred for the Itsekiris that Akiri has demonstrated, the ethnic and territorial integrity of Delta State can no longer be guaranteed.