By ODEYA OGBETUO
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a Warri based Niger Delta leader Mr. Igho Egheba Okumagba has reiterated the position of Urhobos of Warri in their determination to retain their territory and ensure that an Urhobo man represent Warri South Constituency 2 in the Delta State House of Assembly in the 2023 general elections.
Okumagba who made this assertion while speaking to newsmen in Warri, Delta State said that to avoid looming crisis no Itsekiri man should use proxy to claim indigene of Urhobo of Warri to enable him contest in Warri South Constituency 2 which is predominantly Urhobo people, adding that this political intrusion would not be acceptable to the people of Okere Urhobo and Agbarha Warri Kingdoms.
According to him “Warri South Constituency 1 which belongs to Itsekiri always have Itsekiri man representing them at DTHA, but ironically another Itsekiri man the current Warri South Local Government Chairman has declared his interest to contest under Constituency 2 which is predominantly Urhobo territory with over 90 percent of the indigenes are of Okere Urhobo and Agbarha Warri Kingdoms”.
He disclosed that there are three kingdoms in Warri South Local Government Area with Itsekiri kingdom known as Warri kingdom, Okere Urhobo kingdom and Agbarha Warri kingdom with their different territories, stressing that INEC decided to create two Constituencies with Constituency 1 for the Itsekiri and Constituency 2 for Urhobos of Agbarha Warri and Okere Urhobo kingdoms in Warri metropolis.
In his words “An Itsekiri man from Itsekiri territory should not pose to be an Urhobo man to enable him contest in Urhobo territory. The purported endorsement of an Itsekiri man to contest in Constituency 2 by some Agbarha Warri women has been arranged to gain political relevance. It is a gimmick and cantankerous. This arrangement will not yield fruitful results as Urhobos are aware of the trick to claim ownership of Warri metropolis”.
Okumagba clearly stated that Olu of Warri title belongs to the Itsekiri monarch and the Itsekiri people and does not mean ownership of Warri metropolis.
“Urhobos of Okere Urhobo and Agbarha Warri are contented with their territory. None of these kingdoms should extend their political influence over another territory”.
Okumagba who recalled what led to the ownership crisis in Warri said “In 1952, the then leader of the Action Group party and minister in the defunct Western Region Government, Chief Obafemi Awolowo established an Itsekiri Communal Land Trust over Warri land with the Olu of Warri as Chairman. The Urhobos protested and requested that Olu of Warri should restrict himself to Itsekiri territory in Warri and this led to several court cases that ended at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in favour of Urhobo”.
He affirmed that Urhobos won’t accept political manipulation to claim Warri South Constituency 2 by another tribe to validate purported ownership.
He called on the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to call Dr. Mike Tidi to order to avoid crisis that may erupt from his ambition to contest under Warri South Constituency 2 of DTHA.