From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has ended the protracted land dispute between the people of Eleme and their Okrika neighbours.
For doing this, the governor has put to an end the complicated land dispute, which previous administrations in the state were unable to resolve due to groups’ and varied interests from both sides.
Making this disclosure in Port Harcourt, in a press briefing, Dr. Thompson Maxwell, who was a member of the committee set up by the Dr. Peter Odili-led administration, to resolve the crisis, stated that the governor had given the people of Eleme and Okrika an opportunity to live together once again as brothers.
According to him, before Amaechi assumed office in October, 2007, Okrika and Eleme people had locked horns in brutal communal wars that had sent shock waves to both previous administrations in the state and the business community in that area of the state, especially the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Onne.
But, like an action governor that he is, he never wasted time to set up a high powered boundary adjustment committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru, who never rested on his oars to ensure that he discharged the duties assigned to him by the governor.
The Committee’s mandate was to see that the two neighbours live in peace once again as brothers. Dr. Thompson stated that, Amaechi, as a governor, who does not like things done half-measured, gave the committee necessary support to succeed in this onerous task of settling the land dispute in a manner that would make no side feel cheated.
He averred that the governor had once stated that, the border areas that had become object of dispute were under the administration of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority (GPH) and had warned the warring neighbours to keep off. With this singular effort, the governor has demonstrated true quality of a statesman, who is averse to crisis. He has shown that he has the interest of his people at heart.
For the people of Okrika and Eleme, they can now sleep with their two eyes close without war mongering anymore over accusation and counter-accusation of trespass. In his words: “War is evil because it only destroys lives and property.
It stops human and societal development. Man himself does not put in his best in a state of war. Eleme and Okrika have been living as one people in the past. They once belonged to one Local Government Area until the split. They have no right to destroy themselves because of land case.
The land was there before they settled on them and will still be there when they are gone. So, why kill fellow man over things one has no power over. I commend our amiable governor for displaying his unusual raw courage by putting to rest this protracted land dispute”.
It might interest you to know that the two communities had engaged themselves in a bloody land dispute some years back, until Governor Chibuike Amaechi set up a committee to revisit the issue.
The governor ensured that all issues regarding final resolution of the crisis were approached with some measure of seriousness to prevent future communal clash between the two neighbours. For him, there is no basis sitting comfortably within the confines of Government House unconcerned, while people die as a result of land dispute.
He had at different fora told anyone that cares to listen that he was on oath to protect lives and property.
According to him, whatever that needs to be done, must be done to ensure that Rivers State people live in peace without fear of molestation. Dr. Thompson maintained that, by finding lasting solution to Okrika/Eleme land dispute, the governor had once again re-assured Rivers people that he was a leader who is conscious of security and well-being of his citizens.
“He has used this to further advance and consolidate on the gains recorded on the restoration of peace after the hay days of militancy and cult wars in the streets of Port Harcourt.”