Bayelsa deputy gov. leads peace committee to visit disputed land

Deputy Governor, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo

Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo

Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo

The Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo-led Isoni/Azama Peace Committee has indicated its readiness to visit areas in dispute between the two communities.

The move is part of efforts put in place by the committee, for a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict.

The Deputy Governor, Ewhrudjakpo, gave the hint during a meeting between the committee and representatives of the Isoni community at Government House, Yenagoa, on Sunday.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, Ewhrudjakpo assured the two feuding communities of the committee’s commitment to neutrality and fairness in resolving the dispute.

Atasi said the deputy governor also restated the need for both parties to maintain the prevailing peace.

Ewhrudjakpo noted that the interest of the present administration is to ensure peace in all communities across the state, in a bid to attract sustainable investment, development and prosperity.

He said the deputy governor also called on the Azama and Isoni people to have confidence in the steps taken so far by the current administration to settle the dispute.

While appealing for restraints from both parties, Ewhrudjakpo urged them to refrain from making public statements that could preempt the decisions of the committee and jeopardise its efforts in achieving lasting peace in the area.

The deputy governor, who commended the people of Isoni for their peaceful disposition thus far, enjoined them to continue in that regard, adding that the committee had concluded plans to visit the disputed area thrice, to enable it make informed decisions.

He also acknowledged extant court judgments on the disputed land and appealed to both parties, particularly the Isoni community to suspend all pending litigations, to enable the committee carry out its mediatory assignment effectively.

“Be rest assured that we must visit that place. It is a must and we are going to go there three times.

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“We will go with you first because we heard from them first; we will go with them second and then the three of us (the committee, Azama and Isoni), will go there for the third time.

“We are going to be as neutral as the white polish, as neutral as water and as gentle as the dove.

“But we will not be as timid as the cockroach. So, let us continue to wave the olive branches of peace,” he added.

The deputy governor stressed that there was no sacrifice that was too much to make, to achieve peace while commending the contending parties for not taking the laws into their hands.

“We want you to continue to maintain the peace even in the face of very grievous unwarranted and undeserved provocation. Government appreciates your peaceful disposition.

“We are aware of the several judgements on this matter and even some of the cases in court.

“We are also aware of the gravity of the allegation levelled against you. But we still appeal that you allow the state Attorney-General, who is a member of this committee to wade into it, to put it on hold,” he said.

In his remarks, the Ebenanaowei of Ohiakiri Kingdom and Leader of the Isoni delegation, King Joshua Igbagara, said both the Kalatoru Creek and the expanse of land in question known as ‘Seibou”, were exclusively owned by the Isoni community in Sagbama Local Government Area (LGA).

Giving a historical perspective to the dispute, King Igbagara highlighted a series of court judgments dating back to 1929 and called for the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement, which was in favour of the Isoni people.

The royal father frowned at what he described as “Azama people’s flagrant disobedience to court judgments and constant provocative actions and called on the government to act fast to avoid escalation of the conflict.

Present at the meeting were the Chairman of Sagbama LGA, Mr Embeleakpo Alale, his Southern Ijaw counterpart, Mr Nigeria Kia, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Biriyai Dambo (SAN) amongst others.