Urhobo Historical Society

One of the strangest events arising from the invasion of Bayelsa by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1999 was a fissure in a community of Nigerians from Edo State and Delta State living in North America who ordinarily should share kindred interest in the Niger Delta. Support and sympathy for the Ijaws and Odi were spontaneous and firm among most Deltans, although it was muted among the Itsekiri with whom the Ijaws had a feud in Warri in recent times. Peter Ekeh's and Andrew Edevbie's letters to President Olusegun Obasanjo protesting the invasion were significant in galvanizing public opinion against the invasion, inside and outside Nigeria, especially in the Human Rights Community. Together with Chief David Dafinone's strong stand against the invasion, these letters signalled support from Urhobos of the Niger Delta for their besieged neighbours, the Ijaw.

Such support and sympathies were absent from the pages of the exuberant and spirited internet forum of the Edo Community in North America, arguably one of the most active discussion groups in the internet. On the contrary, support for President Olusegun Obasanjo's invasion was quite high. To be fair, details of the atrocities at Odi were not in evidence at the point in time when support for the President was most strident. But the Federal Government's position that a military invasion was necessary was largely adopted in these pages. Furthermore, there were open attacks against Peter Ekeh and Andrew Edevbie for their letters to the President. Such views were remarkably scaled down when Dr. Kienuwa Obaseki cautioned that the Edos might be facing the same problems of exploitation of their resources as the Ijaws currently face.  The debates that followed were important in shedding some light on the complexity of the situation in the Niger Delta. In reading the initial reactions from the Edo Community, it is important to take into account a disclaimer that Dr. Nowa Omoigui has entered into these discussions suggesting that if there was an official and representative position from his group it is in the Edo National Association's letter to President.

The messages exchanged on this score were numerous. Many of them were abusive and probably not fit for reproduction here. But a good number of them were thoughtful and added analytical insights to discussions of Nigerian politics. While they do not directly help us in understanding the conduct of the Nigerian Federal Government in its invasion, we will benefit in our knowledge of Nigerian politics and of Nigeria's military behaviour from reading these documents.

Dr. Nosa Egiebor Strongly Supports President Obasanjo's Invasion
And Rejects Peter Ekeh's Arguments Against Invasion
November 24, 1999
Dr. Victor Akhionbare Supports President Obasanjo's 
Invasion of Bayelsa State As A Matter of Law And Order
November 24, 1999
Segun Toyin Dawodu, M.D., Rejects Andrew Edevbie's 
Opposition To Obasanjo's Invasion of Bayelsa State
November 27, 1999
 Edo National Association/Edo Community in the Americas 
Appeals To President Olusegun Obasanjo
November 28, 1999
 Mr. Godwin Odia Praises President Olusegun Obsanjo 
For Handling The Situation In Bayelsa "Astutely"
November 28, 1999
 Dr.. Kienuwa Obaseki Cautions Edos Against Giving "Wrong Impressions" On Where They Stand On Niger Delta Crisis
November 28, 1999
 Phil Oviasogie, President-Edo Association Of Florida, Inc., Praises Obaseki's Contribution, Implores Edos To Ask For Their Rights
November 28, 1999
 Peter Ekeh Thanks Edo National Association for Support for Niger Delta But Complains About Attacks By Correspondents in Edo Community Internet Forum
November 28, 1999
 Dr. Nowa Omoigui Comments on Patterns of Internal  Deployment of Security Forces And  Provides A History of Nigeria's Military Behaviour In Combat.
November 29, 1999
 Patrick Lawani Advocated A Common Front For 
Edos and Deltans in the Niger Delta Crisis
December 2, 1999
 Andrew Edevbie Challenges "Edo Community Internet Forum 
and Its Support for the Invasion of Baylesa State"
December 7, 1999
 Oluremi Ladeji On "The Vietnamization of the Niger Delta - Historical Lessons." Discusses How Previous Regimes Handled Criminals Like Oyenusi And Anini
December 10, 1999
Nowa Omoigui:
A Disclaimer On Views Presented in the Edo Community's Internet Medium