Following the continuous detention of four community leaders of the Uzanu community by the Edo State Police Command (29 Days), after they willingly went for a meeting of reconcilliation over boundary dispute between Igiode and Uzanu, called by Edo State government, a community Leader in Edo State, SHC Kennedy Izuagbe has strongly appealed for their release.
The appeal is seqeuel to a letter of reply dated April 22, 2021, done by Prince Clem Agba, the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, inviting him for a meeting in Benin by the office of the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon Phillip Shuaibu currently circulating in the social media and private efforts the Community Leader has been making to have the boundary dispute issue between the Igiode and Uzanu communities resolved amicably.
Those detained communityleaders are Chief Emmanuel Ikeme, Chief Peters Ajegba, Chief James Alugbei and Anthony Ademu.
In his letter, the Honourable Minister noted that the matter of the boundary dispute was already in court seeking judicial resolution, the Minsiter pointed out that it was at an similar meeting between Uzanu and Igiode Communities leaders called by the State government that Uzanu community leaders were arrested and are being detained.
He disclosed that before the dispute brewed to the present level, the people of Igiode and Uzanu who are brothers and sisters had lived peacefully for years with the boundary issue settled and gazetted adding that judicial processes should be allowed to adjudicate on the matter.
“Without prejudice to thematter in court, I strongly appeal that directives be given to the StateCommissioner of Police to release the representatives of the Uzanu community similar to the initial directives given to him to detain them at the close of the last meeting. These old and unsuspecting elders, fathers, and grandfathers have been in detention for 29 Days” Prince Clem Agba said.
He said, “Your Excellency, my brother, thank you for the invitation extended to me to attend a meeting rescheduled at your office in Benin.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the proposed meeting designed “to discuss the recent crisis between Uzanu and Igiode communities in relation to their boundary demarcated by the State Government”.
“Consequent to the preceding, I find myself unable to come to terms with the narrative on the issue ‘crisis between Uzanu and Igiode communities in relation to their boundaries’.
“Indeed, the two sister communities in the past had boundary disputes, which were resolved judicially, with communal affirmation by the two communities: thus, there had been no hostilities between the communities,
“Issues on the boundaries only arose after the State Government interfered with the boundaries of the communities, as defined and affirmed judicially and communally with a gazette.
“The Uzanu community is a peaceful, law-abiding and civil-oriented community. As such, we disagreed with this disruptive process of the state government by way of Judicial action against the State Government.
“The Uzanu people kept to their values and did not reduce themselves to taking up arms against the Igiode community.
“I would also like to highlight that the Igiode community also did not challenge the ancestral, communal and legal rights of the Uzanu people as affirmed by the courts.
“Recall that I was earlier invited to attend a meeting at your office on March 29, 2021, for which I sent an apology.
“Leaders of the Uzanu community were present at this meeting to honour your invitation and come to an amicable resolution between both communities.
“At this meeting, my letter was read publicly, and the arrest and detention of onlythe leaders of the Uzanu community was ordered effective immediately.
“Therefore, this platform is optimal to express some concerns in the hope that this letter would also be read like its predecessor:
a) The unilateral boundary demarcation is before the court;
b) It could be considered an act of judicial contempt to seek to discuss the subject of the judicial proceeding without the leave of the court and in the absence of the legal representatives;
“Further to the preceding and after much deliberation, I do not think it is judicious and considerate towards my community for me to engage in talks on the matter while my community leaders are still detained unlawfully:
“However, I consider the matter as one that can be resolved communally and honourably.
“To this end, and without prejudice to thematter in court, I strongly appeal that directives be given to the StateCommissioner of Police to release the representatives of the Uzanu community similar to the initial directives given to him to detain them at the close of the last meeting.
“These old and unsuspecting elders, fathers, and grandfathers have been in detention for 29 Days.
“Their families, community and even neighbouring communities are concerned for their welfare.
“We continually look forward to all genuine steps to move both the Igiode and Uzanu communities forward as well as the entirety of our great State” Agba concluded.
Izuagbe in his remarks said “Without prejudice to the matters in court, I strongly appealed to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki to order the release of the detainees in his capacity as the father of all Edo people and one who is erecting social structures and consistently suing for peaceful coexistence of our people for necessary developments to thrive in our dear state”
He added “as a major Stakeholder who has been involved in high level mediation between the two leading figures of the warring communities, Senator Francis Alimikhena and Hon Minister Prince Clem Agba on the need to resolve the lingering crisis, that he strongly believes that the dispute could still be amicably resolved by the two communities”.
The Senior High Chief equally called on the Deputy Governor, Rt Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, an Afenmai son to intervene in his capacity to ensure that the detainees are released to lay a solid foundation for the permanent resolution of the over half a century lingering boundary dispute.
He advised that an amicable resolution of the intractable boundary dispute by their administration will be akin to writing their names in gold.