By Christy Ichofu
The President General (PG) of Ozoro community in Delta State, Chief Daniel Miller Akpoili, has condemned a recent violent attack on indigenes of the community by persons reportedly from Oleh community, even as he expressed fear that the existing peace between the two communities would be threatened if urgent and decisive steps were not taken by the state government and law enforcement agencies to nip the new phase of recurring violence in the bud.
Chief Akpoili, made this known during a press briefing at his office at Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State.
He passionately called on the Delta State government to expedite action and implement the recommendations of the White Paper on the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the boundary dispute between Ozoro and Oleh communities, so as to averting looming crisis in the communities.
Continuing, Chief Akpoili said that the implementation of the recommendations of the White Paper is the panacea to the lingering Ozoro/Oleh boundary dispute, lamenting that the recurring violent attacks on the people of Ozoro community by irate Oleh persons is becoming unbearable.
Narrating a recent violent attack on the people of Ozoro community, he said, “The most recent of the violent acts perpetrated by persons from Oleh community against the people of Ozoro community happened on June 12, 2023. It was an unprovoked attack that caused a pandemonium in the community. The attack was not unconnected with the ongoing execution of a community development project – creating of access roads in Ozoro by the Ozoro community.”
He continued, “On that fateful day, while an earthmoving machine was working on the ongoing project around the Ozoro end of the ‘disputed boundary,’ a group of persons from Oleh community armed with cutlasses and guns chased the Ozoro people working on the road project away and seized their motorcycles, including the diesel at the site.”
According to Chief. Akpoili, the sad development caused a pandemonium and created panic in the community.
He described the development as unfortunate, stating that the people of Ozoro community had been resolute towards sustaining a peaceful coexistence with Oleh people, adding that they would continue to fulfill that obligation to ensure the existing peace is not tampered with.
Chief Akpoili said, “Ozoro people are law abiding and would totally obey the recommendations of the White Paper in order to foster peaceful coexistence among the indigenes of both communities.”
Continuing, he brought out a copy of the White Paper and handed it to journalists, and emphatically said, “The White paper recommended and approved a demarcation of the area in dispute between Ozoro and Oleh and it was also saliently captured in the demarcation map that accompanied the White Paper.”
He added, “We, the Ozoro people have studied the White Paper and would abide by its recommendations to the letter. We’ll never contravene the directives of the White Paper, hence we chose to conduct ourselves peacefully to ensure that peace reigns.”
The PG, however, said, “While we remain law abiding, we passionately call on the Delta State government and other relevant agencies and stakeholders to take urgent action and implement the recommendations of the White Paper without wasting further time,” stressing that the peace between the two communities is being endangered in recent times.
He wondered why the people of Oleh community would not abide by the recommendations of the White Paper and subscribe to peace, saying, “We have maintained commendable silence in the face of the aggressive tendencies of the people of Oleh community, and we have never written any petition against anybody or instigated any arrest of persons.
“Regrettably, the reverse is the case in the way and manner the people of Oleh conduct themselves. Rather than toeing the path of peace, they have resorted to perpetrating violence by continually dispensing their energy and time writing series of petitions against the people of Ozoro community which oftentimes resulted in invitations of members of Ozoro community by the law enforcement agencies.”
Chief Akpoili reiterated, “We stand for peace; we are not prepared for any war; neither are we saying that we should be killed by anyone or be driven out of our land or community.”
He added, “Our message is, ‘we need a peaceful coexistence of both communities,’ just as he lamented that, “It has become an embarrassment to us to face the barrage of petitions coupled with invitations from police.”
“Just last week, l received a letter from Zone 5 concerning petitions written against our people by persons from Oleh community,” he stated.