By Henry Ovie
A member of the Okumagba Royal Family in Delta State, Prince Louis Okumagba, on Monday apologized to the Alema of Warri Kingdom, Chief Emmanuel Oritsejolomi Uduaghan, for his comments on Warri land.
“I sincerely apologise for dragging the name of the Alema of Warri Kingdom, Chief Emmanuel Oritsejolomi Uduaghan, in the mud’’ Louis Okumagba said in a statement entitled ‘’Okumagba: Warri Land Scandal.”
Louis Okumagba said he was sorry for his comments.
“Everything I earlier mentioned is false and untrue. I regret any embarrassment I might have caused him. I hereby undertake never to bring his name to disrepute’’ the statement said.
Last year, key families in Okere-Urhobo took steps to foil the alleged divisive and land grabbing plan of Louis Okumagba.
They also urged the good people of Delta State and the public to completely discountenance the false publication by Louis Okumagba.
Heads and members of the Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Okere-Urhobo of Warri South spoke on prejudices of some local and foreign publishers on the land opposite Don Domingo College, Warri.
Chief Gideon Okumagba, a representative of the three families, read the statement of the royal families aloud to newsmen.
The families accused Louis Okumagba of alleged distortion and inciting fear in Delta State.
“The families of Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu collectively owned landed properties in Warri.”
The Okere-Urhobo leaders said the land was acquired by the defunct Bendel State Government.
“The families are represented by Heads of the Kindred family and are the original owners of the land until it was acquired by the then Bendel State Government. The families currently have their administrative office at No. 60 Okumagba Avenue Warri where they meet frequently to deal with issues on family lands and other related family matters.”
They offered an itemised and caustic indictment of Okumagba’s behavior in Warri South.
“As one of the elders in the family, specifically as related to the false claims by Louis Okumagba, I am well abreast of the issues raised in that publication. The good people of Warri are not in any war or in a battle over the landed property opposite Don Domingo College, Warri, and it is very shameful that the (he) is trying to incite tribal/ethnic battle in that publication.”
They promised to file a libel suit against individuals and organizations publishing (his) false narrative.
“It is not true that the Alema of Warri Kingdom, High Chief Emmanuel Oritsejolomi Uduaghan, used officials of the Delta State Government to intimidate and arrest Louis Okumagba. To be candid, it was Chief Gideon Okumagba that reported his alleged criminal extortion of money from developers to the Police Area Commander Office in Warri.”
The statement emphasised how the matter was dragged to the office of the Inspector General of Police Abuja.
Particularly, the families accused Okumagba of allegedly trying to sow discord amongst Deltans through falsehood.
“(He) claimed that he has been in the forefront of the land in dispute is false and misrepresentation of facts. The land was acquired by the then Bendel state for public purposes. The Delta State government has since done the needful by releasing/returning parts of the land to the Olodi, Oki and lghogbadu families who are the rightful owners. 4.6 hectares of land was released to the family on the 26 day of June 1988 and another part of the unused land was released to the Olodi, Oki and 1ghogbadu families on the 14 of January 2000. Also, the Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families have an agreement with the Government of Delta State over the remaining parts of the land.”
The families told newsmen there was zero evidence for Okumagba claims of land grabbing.
“To be more specific, the remaining portion of the land was released to Seriviri Nigeria Limited wherein Chief Emmanuel Oritsejolomi Uduaghan is one of the directors of that company and the said company also have an agreement with the families and half of the land was released to the families. Indeed, the three families benefited from the land including Louis Okumagba.”
“There was never any consultation by Louis Okumagba with the well-known families of Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu before that Publication was made by him. It’s a futile attempt to incite the Urhobo and Itsekiri into a needless bickering. There is no dispute as far as the land in this narrative is concerned. (He) should avail himself to enable the police conclude their investigation in the crime levied against him. The land in question belongs to the Olodi, Oki and lghogbadu families of Okere-Urhobo and he should stop spreading false claims and division among the families and tribes in Delta State. If there are disputes in any land owned by these families, it is the heads and members of the family who will collectively decide to institute an action in court.”
The families also condemned his role in the 30 plots released to the Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Warri in the Okere – Urhobo kingdom of Delta State.
They described it as a negative development and a minus for peace and development in Delta State.
In a letter titled: ‘’Attempt / efforts to cause communal war, fanning embers of communal dispute, conduct likely to cause breach of peace and criminal defamation of characters of our clients; Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Warri in the Okere – Urhobo kingdom of Delta State, all committed by (him)– a call to investigate the allegation herein, the families urged the Inspector General of Police to investigate allegations against (him), so as to prevent a monumental communal war/crisis between Itsekiri and the Urhobo of Okere Urhobo Kingdom.
“God forbid a repetition of what happened in 1997/98 in Okere-Urhobo Kingdom.”
Counsel to the Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Warri in the Okere – Urhobo Kingdom, L O. Egboyi & CO said in 1974/76, the then government acquired a part or portion of our client’s land for public purpose.
“In 2017, the Delta State government gave part of this acquired land to Messrs. Seriviri Nig. Ltd. for the purpose of partnership (Leisure Park) with the state government, covered by a certificate of Occupancy. Considering the size of the land given to Seriviri Nig. Ltd, for the partnership, it could not utilize the entire land. So, it entered into agreement with our client family, wherein, it released 30 plots thereof back to the family – our clients.”
The Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Warri are made up of the popular Okumagba family of Warri, Okere- Urhobo kingdom.
“Our clients are the owners of all the land in the entire Okere-Urhobo kingdom Warri. … who is the black sheep of the family started to foment trouble, disturbing and threatening Seriviri Nig. Ltd, with thugs and dangerous weapons which led to his arrest in 2019 to the Police Force Headquarters’, Abuja. After being granted bail by the police, the suspect rushed to file a fundamental Human Rights action against the Police, at the Delta State High Court, sitting in Warri. The action stalled the prosecution of the suspect by the Police.”
The families said the suit of the suspect against the Police was dismissed by the Delta State High Court, sitting in Warri, with a specific order of the Court directing the police to arrest and prosecute the suspect
“While the Police were looking for the suspect for arrest and prosecution as directed by the Court, the same suspect went to social media (Opera news) to declare that “there will be looming danger of war/crisis between the Itsekiri and Urhobos”, thereby inciting, promoting and instigating communal war between the two peaceful co-existing communities of Itsekiri and Urhobo.”
This incitement, according to the families, created several apprehensions in the minds of locals, which has affected the hitherto peace that reigned and pervaded the two communities.
“Furthermore, the suspect posted on the same social media that some named members of our clients namely, Chief Gideon Okumagba, Stanley Oki, Chief Victor Okumagba, Engr. Prince Ojuvwu Okumagba and others, sent assassins to his house to kill him, but he escaped by the whiskers. He confirmed that he had a one-on-one confrontation with the assassins, who confirmed the named members of our clients above, as the people who commissioned them to eliminate him.”
The legal practitioners described Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu as bunch of responsible families
“Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families are known throughout Nigeria for their peaceful disposition. The named individuals are distinguished and respected members of the Okumagba family and the Nigeria Society. Our clients therefore take the allegation of hiring assassins by its members very seriously, especially in this era of Security challenges in the country.”
The families also deplored the alleged actions of Louis Okumagba and urged the Inspector General of Police to use his good offices to investigate the allegations and anyone found culpable to be brought to book.