1.0. The Voice of Igbide People, a Facebook Group/Page of the people of Igbide kingdom, have read with amusement and passing interest, in some instance, the series of press statements by Emede community issued via the Isoko Mirror Online, on the current crisis between Emede and Igbide. The contents of these write-ups, to say the least, are a motley collection of outright falsehood, unsubstantiated assumptions and suppositions, carefully woven with pretentious language to confuse and misinform the unwary. We were especially gladdened when we read two well-written rejoinders on the same medium by the Igbide Union, Lagos Branch, refuting the false historical claims (with copious and verifiable documentary evidence) and distorted narration of the unfortunate crisis that re-erupted between both communities on 8th and 9th of December 2020.
2.0. To resurrect their propaganda which was dealt fatal blows by the Igbide rejoinders that are based on verifiable facts, Emede community issued two further press statements in quick succession via the Isoko Mirror on 7th and 8th of January 2021. The one is titled “Igbide has no history: Their history resides in Intelligence Reports” and the other “Discerning Intellence (sic) from Intelligent Reports”, where Emede essentially but unsuccessfully sought to discountenance Igbide’s reliance on dated reports, government records, historical books and documents, etc, in their rejoinders, as is expected in a sound intellectual exercise.
3.0. We speculate that the degeneration of the discourse into the foulest form of invectives, cunning misinformation and disinformation, crass mendacity and unrestrained pettiness, exhibited by these two latter releases by Emede community, may have made it near impossible to elicit a dignified response from the usual Igbide channels, hence the VOIP has taken it upon itself to make a statement in response to these watery press releases by Emede.
4.0. For a start, we want to first summarize the key positions of the two communities from the press releases and rejoinders;
For Igbide people:
a. Mutual settlement of boundary at Ewhokpaso land between Emede and Igbide.
b. Oruzu land is Igbide land and non-negotiable (position is further backed by decided court cases at the level of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the then West African Court of Appeal as far back as 1952 between Uruwre Quarter of Igbide and Ezede Quarter of Uzere).
Emede position, grudges, etc as contained in their recent and past publications:
a. That Owodokpokpo (which they called Ewhokpokpo in their write-up) was founded by Emede. “Igbide people took over Ewhokpokpo calling it Owodokpokpo”.
b. That Emede territory extends to and includes Urie Lake at Owodokpokpo – Igbide.
c. That Emede has direct boundary with Enhwe; and Igbide is non-existent.
d. That Emede has direct boundary with Umeh; and Igbide is nonexistent.
e. That Igbide should discard their well-documented history and especially the fact that Emede was founded by Eheri, a son of Eru, the founder of Igbide.
5.0. Considering Emede’s complaint that the initial Igbide rejoinders were too high in grammar and citations of dated history, we have decided to offer a more simplistic response to some of the concoctions and conjectures they have made to articulate their rather bizarre positions.
6.0. Contention that Igbide relies on Intelligence Reports for her history: Several consistent sources of Igbide history have been cited including government commissions’ reports, books and Intelligence Reports (IR) not only of Igbide, but also those of the surrounding clans, so the rejoinders were not solely based on the IRs. There are several papers and documents written by Igbide people on their history, but we consider that in a dispute situation where one community considers the other to be non-existent, it is more credible to cite dated historical records, government reports, documentation and books written by neutral external parties. In such situations recent self-written history filled with the politics of today and prejudice of the writer(s) cannot stand the test of credibility, especially if uncorroborated by any dated text as in the case of Emede’s new history.
7.0. For several reasons, Emede cannot reasonably deny the contents of Main’s Intelligence Report on the Igbide Clan 1931. Firstly, the Report is a product of the information which PV Main (with late Chief W.E Otobo of Uzere serving as the Interpreter) collected from Igbide for 7 days, 16th-22nd October 1930; from Owodokpokpo for 3 days, 23rd -25th October 1930; and from Emede for 5 days: 19th -23rd November 1930. (Ref. Appendix 1 to the Intelligence Report). At the end of November 1930, a meeting of the entire Clan (Igbide, Emede and Owodokpokpo) was held at Igbide, the Clan Headquarters. At that meeting, Main’s proposals for reorganization along Native Administration lines were fully discussed and unanimously agreed upon (Ref. Main, 1931, par 86). According to the Report, Chief W.E. Otobo, the Interpreter gave valuable and elucidating details of native customs. (Ref. Appendix II to the Intelligence Report on the Igbide Clan).
8.0. Also, it was the traditional leaders of Igbide and Emede at the time who gave the Government Intelligence Officer the ancestral, historical, traditional and customary information which he used in compiling his Report. The traditional leaders of Igbide who spoke to Main are listed on page 24A of the Report, while those of Emede are listed on page 24B. Prominent among the Emede traditional leaders of the time who held a five-day long meeting with P.V. Main were Etene from Enuto quarter, Ukpe from Okpohro quarter, Erue from Enuto quarter, Eriri from Adaza quarter and Idara from Okporo quarter. It is significant to mention that Erue, then the 2nd Odion of Emede was the father of Chief Alawho Erue who sired Prophet Jones Erue. In the same vein, Eriri was the father of Chief Gold Eriri. It is the above listed Emede traditional leaders who told the story of the ancestral, historical, traditional, paternal and customary relationship, indeed affinity between Igbide and Emede to P.V. Main in 1930. It is extremely ridiculous and mischievous and indeed, disrespectful for sons of today to deny the account of ancestry, history, tradition and custom given by their forefathers over 90 years ago.
9.0.a. False allegation that Igbide has fought wars with all her neighbors: Apart from the crisis with Emede and Enhwe both of which were sparked by unprovoked premeditated attacks on Igbide resulting in loss of lives and property, Igbide has not had any protracted crisis with any of her neighbors at this scale. Additionally, no Commission of Inquiry set up by Government has found Igbide as the aggressor. The Mr. D.E.A Nwelih Commission of Inquiry in 1985 that was set up to look into the Igbide and Emede crisis fingered Emede as the aggressor in their Report and fined them. Additionally, the Isoko Peace Committee set up jointly by Isoko Development Union and Isoko South Local Govt to look into the remote and immediate causes of Igbide and Enhwe conflict and restore peace, also absolved Igbide of being the aggressor. The Report of the Isoko Peace Committee was rejected by Enhwe and the Bishop of Oleh, who was a member of the Committee, insulted in the foulest language that they could muster.
b. The conflict with Uzere over Oruzu land was maturely decided in court and both parties have since moved on. Strangely, after some 90 years, from the start of the court case to Igbide winning same in 1952 and up till date, Emede now wants to lay claim to the same land for which legal title has been decided in favor of Igbide at both the Supreme Court and the then West African Court of Appeal. Emede’s claim in their release that Igbide should have taken the case to the Privy Council is a tacit acknowledgement that they are aware of Igbide’s legal title yet they went to war over land that is already decided by the court.
10.0. One would have thought that Emede will be circumspect in starting another conflict with Igbide given the fact that a government Commission of Inquiry set up for the first crisis found them guilty as the aggressor and slammed a fine on them. It is obvious that they haven’t learned their lesson. Emede is presently at loggerheads with Oleh over DELSU, Oleh Campus, have had wars with Irri of old, issues with Uzere and Olomoro over land and now with Igbide. The current actions of their youths rampaging in Oleh, Irri, Olomoro and other territories in their cowardly resolve to kill in cold blood innocent Igbide people is most likely to breed more conflict with their neighbors. The maturity of Oleh and its status as LGA Headquarters may have prevented a fratricidal crisis between Emede and Oleh.
11.0. There is nowhere in Igbide’s rejoinders where it is stated that they gave land to Enhwe. These are the contentions of Emede and Enhwe people of which the previous Emede press releases and the latter two clearly restated. Again, this, in addition to the false statement that Igbide claims lands extending to Irri and the center of Uzere are illustrative of the deceit inherent in the Emede publications.
12.0. The notion that Igbide has been in court with several of her neighbors is just an unsubstantiated focused statement on one community. The colonial authorities set up several native courts to decide cases that may arise intra and inter-communities. For someone with an education worth its name to make an informed statement on this, he would have to look at the records of the courts to come to a determination of which community has the most cases with neighbors. But come to think of it, which is better, going to court to resolve issues legally or resorting to self-help like Emede is doing over a land that has its title determined over 70 years ago?
13.0. The contention that the migration of Emede into its present location is well documented in oral, traditional and written history by Emede people cannot stand any test of credibility, due to lack of external validation, hence fallacious in an intellectual sense. Need we remind Emede people that this is the 21st Century and historical accounts at this time cannot be based on fairy tales and conjectures? They must be anchored on valid and substantial documentary evidence.
14.0. The diversionary questions asked of Eru, the founder of Igbide, are not unique to Igbide but applicable to every other community on earth, including Emede, if we were to thread that path. So perhaps we need to do joint research to ascertain where the original founder(s) of all communities came from, their migratory paths, whether the founder’s name or community name mean anything in their former or present language, the time it took their founders whether from Amede in Esan land, Ife, Benin, Ibo etc to migrate and arrive at their destinations, whether such founder(s) had children, whether the founders children also founded new communities, whether the founders met barren lands or settlers on arrival, whether the founders evolve through any linguistic structure as is this case Isoko. We could research what Okpolo and even Isoko itself mean in Isoko language, why do communities that claim origins from Benin, ended up speaking diverse languages like Ibo, Yoruba, Ikwerre, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw etc instead of Benin, why Emede that now claims origins from Amede in Esanland speaks Isoko rather than Esan? What does Yoruba, Benin or Ibo mean in their respective languages? How did Isoko communities that claim origins from the east and those that claim origin from Benin, Esan and Urhobo, end up speaking one form of Isoko or the other? While we can say that we have answers to some of these questions as it concerns our history, a research into linguistics, sociology, anthropology and ethnography on how the peoples of the world evolved, is not the aim of this discourse, hence delving into such a big pot would throw away focus. It suffices that we have stated our history just as any other community and such has corroboration in Igbide folklore and the recorded text by the colonial authorities, government records and books from the colonial and post-colonial eras.
15.0. In a section of their publication Emede alluded to a difference between administrative and ethnological clans. If this is in recognition of their being part of Igbide clan (administratively) then that is at least a radical shift in direction from falsehood and self-denial of no relationship at all with Igbide, to some level of truth. They would only need to explain to the world why they were “administratively” grouped with Igbide clan and not any other Isoko clan, and why the clan headquarters was at Igbide, a community they claim they are senior to and even gave land to settle. In any case, we wish to educate them that before the Justice Ighodaro Judicial Commission on Chieftaincy Titles Declarations Review 1978, Emede, represented by Chief Japhet Onoyona, who spoke for and on behalf of their Ovie and Chief Richard Ogbalor, witness to their Odion Ologbo, ADMITTED ON OATH that “there was a time when Emede formed part of Igbide Clan”. Chief Japhet Onoyona also On Oath admitted that “the then Ovie of Igbide was the Clan Head”. (Ref. Ighodaro 1978 Verbatim Report Pp.183, 184, 227/228).
16.0. a. Emede’s warped version of their ill-fated invasion of Igbide on 8th and 9th December, 2020 usually begins with a tale of how Igbide invaded an innocent community, Emede. The whole world and even Emede people themselves know, as they have even acknowledged in background regrets in one of their circulated videos and various comments on social media, how they launched an attack on Igbide. Simultaneously, Emede youths set up roadblocks and several Igbide persons who were unaware of any crisis, some of whom even drove through Emede town enroute Igbide unknowingly, were captured and have not been seen or heard of again. If Igbide had any intention to attack Emede it would have taken the necessary precautions to alert its own people to stay clear of Emede.
b. Despite a truce by the Isoko traditional rulers and Isoko Development Union (IDU), Emede youths assassinated Mr. Vincent Ugasa, an Igbide indigene in Oleh on January 01, 2021 and another, Mr. Believe Emu, who resides in Ilushin, Edo State, was lured on 07 January 2021 to board a tricycle at Oleh allegedly bound for Igbide but driven to Emede and kidnapped. He hasn’t been heard from since then. Emede youths still mount road blocks on the Olomoro/Emede/Oleh highway where they routinely harass and extort Isoko people and other travelers in the guise of looking for Igbide people to kill.
c. The family of Hon. Silas Buowe, including his wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter would have been eliminated in error, but for divine intervention, when Emede youths, weilding AK47 rifles, rained bullets on the car in which they were traveling on January 01, 2021 when they ran into one of the numerous check points at Emede. Ogbuefe Guyman Paulo from Olomoro had his car vandalized after subjecting him to untold harassment. This has been the experience of several other Isoko people.
d. Let Emede be aware that these actions have serious consequences. Isoko people, security authorities, governments, and indeed, the Almighty God, are all aware.
e. We respectfully call on the security authorities, the government and IDU to put a stop to all these without further delay.