Otulu Land Ownership Tussle: Ubulu-Okiti Monarch Appeals To Okowa For Peace

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

By Frank Oshanugor

The last may not have been heard on the controversial Otulu land in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, ownership of which is being claimed by Ogwashi-Uku and others, as the Ubulu-Okiti community has made its position known on the same land, even as its King has appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to quickly restore peace to avoid further bloodshed.

In a letter to the Delta State Governor, Ref. UOTC/DSG/01/21 dated 12th October, 2021 a copy of which was sighted by AtlanticNewsonline the Ubulu-Okiti Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Agbogidi Edward Isichei II, Obi of Ubulu-Okiti on behalf of his community said
“we appreciate your timely intervention in quelling the violence that erupted in Otulu
Community which resulted in the death of at least one person and injuries to many people.

“However, despite the call for peace from your office, several other communities have
continued to make very spurious claims to the ownership of Otulu Community and by
inference some parts of Ubulu- Okiti Community land which now compel us to state the
position of Ubulu – Okiti Community with respect to the subject matter. We are confident
that this letter would, in great measure, assist His Excellency in finding lasting solution to
the dispute.

“Ubulu – Okiti people were dismayed by the unfortunate incidents resulting in fatality and
widespread violence over an alleged claim of ownership or rather annexation of Otulu land
by Ogwashi – Uku and the Issele Communities comprising Issele-Uku, Issele-Mkpetime
and Issele-Azagba. The incident was unfortunate and was in fact an embarrassment to
Anioma people, particularly Ubulu-Okiti Community who had enjoyed very peaceful coexistence with Otulu Community and her other neighbours for many years.”

The letter added that “it is an obvious fact that amongst all the neighbouring communities to Otulu, that Ubulu–
Okiti is geographically the closest neighbour to Otulu and its market. Otulu settlers were predominantly farmers who migrated from various places within and outside Delta State to
reside in the place now known as Otulu. They either leased land annually to farm for
themselves or lived as farm Labourers on hire to work for Ubulu-Okiti farmers.

due to the hospitality of Ubulu-Okiti people, many of them were offered houses to live as
tenants or granted lands to build their own houses. It is therefore, not surprising that most of
the present day Otulu dwellers or farmers have Ubulu-Okiti landlords whom they still pay
ground rents, tenancy rent or royalties till date.

“Again, it is an incontrovertible fact that we the people of Ubulu-Okiti have a very long historic, customary, religious and traditional affinity with the Otulu Community to the extent
that we jointly make use of Anwai stream, which was the major source of water supply for Ubulu- Okiti people and Otulu settlers for over a century and this has never been disputed.

“It is instructive also to mention that the then Ubulu-Okiti Chief priest was the official
worshipper of the Anwai stream deity. None of the contending communities now, knew
where Anwai stream source was or how it was maintained by Ubulu-Okiti and Otulu
Community youths.

“Similarly, Ubulu-Okiti Community has consistently constructed culverts and maintained the road that leads to Otulu, the last of which was done by the Ubulu-Okiti
Development Association. The Anglican Church and Catholic Church established in Otulu
are offsprings or baby churches established by their mother Parishes in Ubulu-Okiti.

“Nevertheless, despite the above adumbrated facts of exercise of obvious acts of overlordship
of Ubulu-Okiti over Otulu Community, we do not claim exclusive ownership or dominance
of the entire Otulu Community land as is mischievously being done by Ogwashi-Uku and the
Issele Communities. Such reckless and provocative utterances are attempts at over-reaching
the well-entrenched rights of other communities like Ubulu-Okiti and Issele Azagba that
share common boundaries with Otulu on western, northern, southern and eastern boundaries
of the community.

“The incursion of Issele-Uku into Otulu is even more provocative when you realize that it does not share any common boundary with Otulu Community, neither does
it own any plot of land in Otulu Community and cannot boast of granting any title or
possessory right to any of the settlers in Otulu. Ubulu-Okiti Community and Edo-Ogwashi
know their boundaries around Otulu settlement and it has never been a source of dispute
between our communities.

The letter further stated that “the people of Ubulu- Okiti and all persons conversant with activities of land grabbers in the
area are aware as a fact that the present crisis in Otulu has nothing to do with ownership of

Otulu land by the present claimants, but is a well premeditated and tactful aggression by
notorious land speculators majorly from Ogwashi-Uku and Issele-Azagba, who having
exhausted the opportunity to expound their unholy enterprise have decided to invade and
forcefully take Otulu Community land.

“These land grabbers within the two communities have been desperately scrambling for land
in the neighboring communities to sustain their insatiable hunger for free land grabbing
having exhausted all opportunities in their respective communities long before this crisis.

“The violence and mayhem unleashed by these people and their agents at Issele-Azagba,
Okpanam, Ogwashi-Uku and Issele-Uku attest to this fact. Regrettably, the traditional
leadership of these communities and their various town unions or associations have allowed themselves
to be lured into this nefarious act of land grabbing now masquerading as Otulu
community ownership tussle.

“It is unfortunate because the leadership of these communities
should have known better and been able to read the handwriting on the wall before engaging
in this embarrassing and most unnecessary act of breach of public peace and harmonious coexistence of the communities within the area under reference.

“Mischievously, these communities seek to justify their shameful conduct and illegitimate
expansionist misadventure by citing Supreme Court judgment which has nothing to do with boundaries
or ownership of Otulu land. We therefore challenge any of them to show us from
the judgment any of the orders of court granting them title to any portion of Otulu land.”

The Ubulu-Okiti community in the letter argued that “assuming without conceding that issues which were determined by the court was on land
ownership, was Ubulu-Okiti community party to that suit? It is elementary in law that
whatever decision that emanated therefrom is not binding on Ubulu-Okiti or any other party
that was not a party to the suit.

The Ubulu-Okiti Traditional Council acting for themselves and on behalf of all sons and
daughters of Ubulu-Okiti have therefore used the medium of the letter to appeal to Governor
Ifeanyi Okowa to “urgently use the instrumentality
of his most revered office to call to order the traditional rulers of Issele communities,
Ogwashi-Uku, and their various land speculators who are sponsoring these acts of violence
and crisis.”

They added that “Ubulu Okiti people are law abiding people, peaceful and Godly. We do not want
these communities to import violence and lawlessness into our community and distract our
focused and hardworking youths.
We have implicit confidence in your ability to restore peace and order to Otulu Community
and its neighbours,” the letter concluded.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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