By Ekanpou Enewaridideke
FUSILLADE. Tears. Recriminations. FUSILLADE. Tears. Recriminations. Betrayers. Counter-betrayers. Mob action. And Casualties. For Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja Communities in Delta State long infernally excited by intermittent dance of mutually devastating volcanic eruptions from the overflow of primordial pent-up feelings of animosity, claims and counter-claims of aboriginal ownership over a disputed expanse of land, fusillade, tears, recriminations and bountifully morbid harvest of casualties have become their only hereditament. Chief Opudu Boro (Chairman, Delta Water Ways Security) and Chief Smooth Tunde (Chairman, Delta State Peace Committee on Ogbe-Ijoh-Aladja Communal Conflict) are the recent casualties of this macabre communal dance where Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities appear to carry plates morbidly laden with blames upon the Okowa-led government for constantly denying them the space to exhaust their military energies, powers, methodologies, ideas, strategies, etc, on how to become the historic VICTOR on the battlefield.
Which governor of a state would create that macabre space of madness and carnage in this country? The communal war between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja Communities which began in 1996 is gradually assuming the unsightly character of the Israeli-Palestinian war. Right from the beginning of this internecine communal war, the government is always impressively prompt as it has never run short of initiatives on how to end the war. It was a bold attempt to end the communal war that Justice Azinge Panel of 1996, Justice Nwulu Panel of 2009 and Professor Ekoko Panel of 2016 and most recently, the Chief Smooth Tunde-led Peace Committee of June 28, 2017, which is still at work, were created.
All these Panels set up by the sensitive respective governments have not been able to find the cure for the VIRAL DISEASE plaguing Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities. Is the lack of cure for the viral OGBE-ALAD DISEASE due to the failure of the Panels to come up with workable recommendations, or is it due to government’s failure to act decisively on the recommendations of these panels? Or could it be that the government is scared of the arrogant stand and opposition to the recommendations and the anticipated white paper by the two communities? Must government pander to the interest of any of the two communities? However the inhibitions and challenges, genuine or manipulated, on the path to decisive resolution of the crisis, it saddens that the crisis has taken enigmatic shapes and attributes, more lethal and worrisome than the early beginnings of the communal war, now that government institutions, agencies and individuals engaged as peace-makers are irrationally termed betrayers and CANNIBALISTICALLY fed on as disposable latest casualties of the communal war.
A communal war becomes absurd and endless when supposed PEACE-MAKERS positioned to resolve the crisis are derogatively looked upon as the causative agents of the war and consequently maltreated by the owners of the crisis. So Chief Boro goes down in history as the latest casualty of the communal war; so too Chief Tunde.Accustomed to its dance of intermittent eruptions, the Ogbe-Ijoh-Aladja crisis reared its ugly head again in March 2016 and harvested many casualties on both sides on the battlefield, and made Governor Ifeanyi Okowa the unfortunate inheritor of the long-existing communal war. In the heat of the fierce outbreak of gun-to-gun exchange between the two communities on July 27, 2017, armed Navy personnel from the Warri Naval Base allegedly fusilladed Ogbe-Ijoh and destroyed the sacred temple of war in the grove. Precisely, two sacred giant traditional pots stationed in the temple of war in the grove were desecrated and broken into pieces by the Navy personnel. By this time the people of Ogbe-Ijoh had begun a marathon race to the forest for escape. Even the JTF soldiers stationed at Ogbe-Ijoh for security reasons were endangered by the unprofessional fusillade of the Nigerian Navy personnel.
The Navy sobered up and stopped when the JTF soldiers and Chief Boro allegedly awakened them to the impropriety of their military action. Up till now nobody knows why the Navy did what they did. Even Chief Boro was allegedly baffled and provoked by the alleged fusillade directed at Ogbe-Ijoh. The brief invasive action of the Nigerian Navy personnel whose normal responsibility is to take a neutral position was later irrationally interpreted by some persons in Ogbe-Ijoh. To these self-acclaimed irrational interpreters, it was Chief Boro who engaged the services of the Navy personnel to fusillade Ogbe-Ijoh as a one-sided strategy to end the communal war. While Chief Boro was verbally at war with the Navy over their misguided action, he was seen as a betrayer and killer of his own Ijaw people. In the eyes of his own people Chief Boro has taken side with the government against the Ogbe-Ijoh people. To teach Chief Boro a lesson for the unfounded betrayal, his house was set ablaze by some unknown persons in Ogbe-Ijoh community on August 7, 2017.
To restore peace in the community in the midst of the misinterpretation of the role of Chief Boro and other developing issues, Chief Tunde, the current Chairman of Delta Peace Committee on Ogbe-Ijoh-Aladja communal conflict, had to go to Ogbe-Ijoh on August 8, 2017 but was chagrined that he was treated as a betrayer and chased into the river, stoned and almost got drowned but for a Samaritan speedboat driver who rescued him and sped off to safety. By the laughable impetuous interpretation of the diseased interpreters, Chief Tunde had colluded with Chief Boro to sell Ogbe-Ijoh Community into the hands of the Navy personnel.
The impetuous action against Chief Tunde is barbaric, crude and murderous and so the instigated perpetrators should be tamed so that this murderous barbarism does not become a habit in the community.For a man who was appointed by the Delta State Government to resolve the communal war between the two communities, and who sticks to his avowal that there should be peace between the two communities, what is the traitor in Chief Tunde on this matter? Is peace-making now synonymous with betrayal in Delta State? I am sure there is a hidden hand good at deliberately painting persons traitors to justify a mob action unleashed on the victim. If not, by what logical analysis could one arrive at the irrational position that there is a trace of betrayal in Chief Tunde and Chief Boro over their roles in the communal war just now? Are the Navy personnel whose unprofessional fusillade on 27 July 2017 bred monsters among the Ijaws in Ogbe-Ijoh happy that their action has begot another conflagration? Are they happy that professional LIE-MONGERS have used the fusillade to fill the air with teleguided misinformation and propaganda, resulting in the burning down of Chief Boro’s house in Ogbe-Ijoh on 7 August 2017 and the near-drowning of Chief Tunde in the river?
The satanic propagators of the misinformation that Chief Boro was the traitor who brought Navy personnel to fusillade Ogbe-Ijoh and defile the temple of Justice in the sacred grove should be fished out so that these progapandists do not make this idiocy a lucrative career. Marks of betrayal are easily identifiable anywhere in the world; with regard to this particular matter in Ogbe-Ijoh concerning Chief Boro and Chief Tunde, these easily located marks of betrayal do not exist in actuality. If these marks do exist, they only exist in the mind of satanic propagandists who must be up to something sinister yet to be seen.
So Chief Boro and Chief Tunde are not the rightful owners of the badge of betrayal foisted malevolently on their clothes. These paintings of ‘betrayer’ targeted at Chief Tunde and Boro must be the genius of a vindictive diseased fine artist in Ogbe-Ijoh who operates from invisible corners of the world – insidiously wrecking havoc on humanity. The word ‘betrayer’ rightly belongs to a man who declares peace publicly and insidiously incubates VIOLENCE to kill the publicly declared peace. The current reputational persecution suffered by Chief Boro and Chief Tunde emanates from their unquenchable thirst for peace in Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities. What is indeed the betrayal in a man who says sincerely that there must be peace in the land? If there are traitors in the Ogbe-Ijoh-Aladja communal conflict, those are the persons who passionately hate cease-fire and crisis-resolution – only excited by unending bombardment to exterminate the other.
These are the traitors, not those who labour genuinely to end the hostilities. Could pacifism be equated with betrayal? The alleged fusillade of the Navy personnel has created credibility problem for the State Government whose ardent representatives, Chief Boro and Chief Tunde, have been branded betrayers and scarred REPUTATIONALLY. The vindictive unprofessionalism of the Navy personnel should be questioned and caged for the purpose of tomorrow. Their interventionist approaches should always be marked by neutrality. It is worrisome that the Navy personnel have declared themselves an enemy of the Ogbe-Ijoh community when they should position themselves as neutral peace-makers.
Again, could Chief Boro have colluded with the Nigerian Navy to fusillade his own community and desecrate the traditional temple of worship in the grove, giving people varying gun wounds? Overarching aura of tragedy now hovers over Chief Boro. Whenever there is a sudden outbreak of war between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja, the Aladja community is also quick at pointing accusing fingers at Boro for being the secret mastermind of the attack; and whenever the Ogbe-Ijoh community finds any action of government questionable and unfavourable, they are quick to say Chief Boro Opudu is the architect of their misfortunes. To the capricious dance steps of Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja, Chief Boro is both a betrayer, destroyer and a friend, depending on their whimsical interpretations of government actions. Chief Boro’s name has become a subject of invocation anytime something horrible happens to any of the two communities. On whose side is Chief Boro now? Aladja, Ogbe-Ijoh or the government’s side? What methodology of data collection and analysis do they often use to arrive at the conclusion of Boro’s collusion with the Navy personnel to fusillade Ogbe-Ijoh?In this communal fratricidal war of absurdity between the two communities, can’t Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities take a cue from Ayakoromo community in Burutu Local Government Area and Igbo-Ideh community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State? A coalition of civil organizations from Ayakoromo and Igbo-Ideh converged on the 4th of August 2017 and passionately called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to continue and complete the Ayakoromo-Igbo-Ideh bridge project.
Rather than fan embers of ethnic animosity, the Ijaws in Ayakoromo and the Urhobos in Igbo-Ideh prefer to aggregate resources and energies to solve a common problem of abandonment and underdevelopment. I wish I would wake up one day to see a similar collaborative move between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja to end the absurd communal war. Doesn’t the collaborative move/protest of Ayakoromo and Igbo-Ideh tell the world that Ijaw and Urhobo as nations can never go to war? Unarguably, I do not need the prophetic voice of T.B Joshua or Fufeyin Jeremiah Omoto to tell me that Governor Okowa would commend Ayakoromo and Igbo-Ideh communities for their civilized approach to their common problem of development, and as a listening governor he will swing into swift action and complete the Ayakoromo-Igbo-Ideh bridge.In the intermittently raging communal war, Boro’s predicament proliferates luxuriantly like waterweeds in Akparemogbene River: he will constantly be given different negative names by Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja based on their smug interpretation of the developing events, even where it is clear that it is his desire to see to the quick end of the war. This is the time for Governor Okowa to take a decisive action.
The decisive action of Governor Okowa could be unfavourable to the two communities but it does not matter provided the communal war comes to an end. Even those who hitherto thought they are not part of the war; even those who thought they are only peace-makers; even those who pride themselves as intelligent professional fence-sitters and many others have been gaudily painted as betrayers and destroyers. Sadly, with Chief Boro vindictively painted as a betrayer and supporter of government against his own people, as part of a grand plot at reputational persecution, and many others differently implicated, though rather questionably, this is the time for His Excellency Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa to swing into decisive action and end the fratricidal communal war between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja because to Professor J.P Clark in ‘Casualties’:
‘The casualties are not only those who startedA fire and now cannot put it out. Thousands Are burning that had no say in the matter.The casualties are not only those who escaping The shattered Shell become prisoners in A fortress of falling walls.…We are all casualties,All sagging as are The cases celebrated for kwashiokwor,The unforeseen camp-follower of not just our war.’