Gelegele Seaport: Ijaw group demands implementation of peace agreement

Governor, Godwin Obaseki
Governor, Godwin Obaseki

Ijaws of Edo State Emancipation Movement (IESEM), on Tuesday, issued the Edo State Government a 21-day ultimatum to implement a peace agreement on the Gelegele (Gelegele-Gbene) Seaport project.

The group said failure by the state government to implement the six-point agreement will result to both the government and its Chinese partners, China Habour Engineering Company (CHEC), being treated as raiders of Ijawland.

IESEM, in a statement by its Coordinator and Spokesman, Joel Keniwenimowei and David Ebipamojo, warned that, “Failure to do so (meet the conditions), we, the owners of the land shall have no option than to treat the presence of Edo State Government and its Chinese Partners, China Habour Engineering Company (CHEC), as enemy invaders in our land.”

The group said Edo State Government should provide a letter of intent with regard to Gelegele-Gbene Seaport project; produce and make available, an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, report if any to the Agadagba of Olodiama Kingdom and the Gelegele community.

It said, “Produce and make available the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, entered into by the government of Edo State and CHEC to the Olodiama Kingdom, otherwise the composition and recommendation work of the Gelegele (Gelegele-Gbene) Seaport Committee will not be recognised by us.

“Accord the Gelegele community and Olodiama Kingdom, all the rights, privileges, benefits and royalties accruable from the project operations as owners of the land; and the Edo State Government should immediately shelve their plan to change the name of Gelegele Seaport to Benin River Seaport.

“This plan is borne out of evil and we shall resist it with our God-given rights and by all means necessary. Gelegele is in Olodiama Kingdom (Ijawland); the naming of the port should reflect land ownership and recognise the rights of the indigenous communities. The public should take note that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State will be held responsible in this matter if there is any breakdown of law and order.

“His Excellency, your secret visits and those of China Habour Engineering Company officials to Gelegele community on May 5 and 19, respectively without a courtesy call on the Pere (king) in council, Pere Godwin Ogunoyibo, the Agadagba of Olodiama Kingdom is a sacrilege against the revered Ijaw traditional institution and a demonstration of raw power that tramples on the rights of the indigenous people and communities.

“The Gelegele (Gelegele-Gbene) Seaport project is exclusively situated in the Ijaw communities of Olodiama Kingdom in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo state.”

The group noted that both international and local statutes concerning any development and infrastructural projects avers that a Letter of Intent, MoU and an EIA report be compiled and published for the stakeholders (including host communities) to be abreast with the benefits and adverse effects of such particular projects.

It faulted the Edo State Government’s refusal to make known to the critical stakeholders the existence of any of the above documents.