The people of Ozoro Kingdom in the Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State have charged the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of States Services (DSS) to thoroughly investigate the incident that led to the killing of 12 indigenes of Oleh community in Isoko South LGA of the state.
They also declared that Ozoro Kingdom is innocent of the allegation that indigenes of the community were behind the gruesome murder of the 12, urging the security agencies to look inwards the Oleh Community following established internal land dispute where the killing allegedly took place.
At a press conference on Sunday by the President-General of Ozoro Progress Union (OPU), Hon. Nicholas Areh, while condemning and describing the killing of the victims as barbaric, clarified that the land where the victims were working before they were brutally murdered was not in contention between both communities, warned against dragging the names of Ozoro indigenes into the unfortunate incident.
The President-General who described the people of Ozoro Kingdom as peace-loving, noted that her people will at no cost wage war against her neighbour when a truce on the disputed land had longed be reached on the portion of land that was in dispute.
“The Ovie, Community leaders and the good people of Ozoro kingdom without reservation, condemn in totality, the unfortunate, sad and gruesome murder of indigenes of Oleh numbering about 11 and one still allegedly missing at Ada bush, Oleh, as reportedly discovered and their bodies recovered on 16th October, 2020, and 21st October, 2020, respectively.
“The act is barbaric, unacceptable, inhuman, callous and savage. With heavy hearts and great distress, we condole with the families who have lost their dear ones and indeed the entire Oleh Community over the loss of these illustrious sons and daughters of Isoko land at this ruthless and harrowing incident which has left every Isoko indigene lugubrious.
“We therefore urge the Nigeria Police Force Investigating Team to leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of this dastardly and very heinous act. We pray God Almighty to grant their souls a place of rest in his bosom.”
Areh, while exonerating the people of Ozoro from the attack, he observed, “While we empathize with those nursing the pains of this agonizing situation; it is only proper that some points in press release which is loaded with conjectures and phantasms and fanning into flames the embers of hatred and suspicion, be properly dissected and bring the true facts to bear.
“The allusion ‘… Oleh indigenes killed in cold blood on Friday 16th October, 2020, at Ada bush, by persons believed to be from Ozoro Community” raises a lot of questions. Who are these persons from Ozoro? What are their names? Who saw them? How do they look? The said conjectured belief which dwells solely in the realm of suspicion is at best a product of delusion which cannot crystallize on any existential fact.
“Hon. (Barr) Lucky Okperi who hired the deceased and missing persons to his land for farming purposes in Ada bush, owned by Oloro family of Oleh kingdom, should ordinarily account for the whereabouts of his workers and should answer investigative questions to offer assistance to the security operatives who are investigating the matter. To whip up sentiments, to diverse the focus of investigative activities to people who have no proximate knowledge of what happened is to simply act a script.
“It must be emphasized that Oloro family land in Ada bush, Oleh, where the innocent citizens were hacked down by unknown and unidentified persons is not in dispute at all, and is more than two (2) kilometers away from the location of the parcel of land in dispute between some families of Ozoro and some in Oleh.
“In obedience to the peace accord pursued by the then late Ovie, HRM Letter Adhekegba of Ozoro Kingdom and the current Odiologbo of Oleh, HRH Anthony Ovrawa, as traditional rulers of the two communities, the boundaries of the lands of Ozoro and Oleh were properly delineated by the two traditional rulers themselves with natural landmarks of Iroko tree, Swamp and Palm Trees plantation in the year 2000, which has been respected by all parties till date.
“More specifically, one Odhomor planted the palm plantation from the agreed boundary line into the Oloro family side, which plantation is still in existence till date. The representatives of Odhegbe family of Ozoro at the said demarcation exercise are still alive to testify to same and they have since then strictly adhered to that decision.
“It must therefore be clearly stated that the allegation that members of this family from Ozoro had consistently threatened the people of Oleh with dangerous weapons without any name specifically mentioned to have masterminded such consistent attacks is not only wicked but unfounded, and calculated to bring into disrepute the good image and reputation of Ozoro kingdom.
“The purported letter of 21st August, 2020, which is a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Delta State, claiming to have reported an incident of dispossession of cutlasses, phones and Chainsaw, was a well calculated act of laying a foundation for the current unfounded allegations as no incident of such took place.
“This piece of allegation of criminality must be well scrutinized. Thus, who were the indigenes of Ozoro that dispossessed Oloro family members of their work/farm implements? Why was there no report at the Oleh Division of the Nigeria Police Force? Why was the Area Police Command which is in Ozoro not petitioned to immediately fish out those involved? It is not enough to cook up cock and bull stories of criminal allegations; same must be substantiated with credible and compelling evidence on facts which must point irresistibly to a probable conclusion. Anything short of same must fall like a pack of cards!
“It is never in doubt that disputes over boundaries of lands between Ozoro and Oleh dates back to generations past, it must be placed on record that such have always been resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms which have yielded results that brought peace; and same have been respected by families from both communities.”
The statement which also cautioned the leadership of the Isoko Development (IDU) from taking side in the mysterious attack, noted that only a thorough investigation by security agencies and the state government would unravel how the victims were killed.
“Ordinarily, we have no intention to react to any publication, or arrests and detention(s) of any indigene(s) of Ozoro, who have been invited for questioning by security operatives on this issue, being that we have ordinarily pledged to support the investigation process to help in any manner possible to fish out the perpetrators of the killings, but for the shreds of lies, misinformation and heinous allegations levied against innocent persons and the entire Ozoro kingdom, we just thought it wise to simply straighten the records and let the public, security agencies and the government see the facts as they are.
“While our heads are still bowed low in grief, we call on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the DSS, and the government of Delta State to put in their best and unravel the mystery behind the murder of the 11 Oleh people and the yet to be found twelfth person so as to look beyond the ill-motivated arrest of Ozoro indigenes and to resist any diversion or misleading intrusions into the investigation process that may attempt to sway the focus of investigation into the wrong direction.
“We therefore, call on the IGP, the DSS and the government of Delta State to direct investigations into Oleh, particularly the leadership of Oleh, Oloro family, Chief Patrick Alakri and Honourable Okperi; these people are not telling the truth on this piece of land and the gruesome murder.
“We urge the well-meaning indigenes of Ozoro, strangers living in Ozoro and our brothers and sisters in Oleh, to exercise and maintain a peaceful disposition towards each other and await the outcome of investigation. We also call on the rest of Isoko people to believe in Ozoro peoples’ claim of innocence, knowing that what happened at Oleh bush is not part of Isoko tradition of war”, Hon Areh further stated.