The Okpe Union Worldwide has described as ridiculous and frivolous claims by several people that the Itsekiris are co-owners of Sapele.The union also condemned the refusal of some individuals to enter into a new lease with the Sapele Okpe Community Land Trust Association as well as paying all outstanding rent and penalty for non-payment of rent during the period of occupation before the recent judgment that places the ownership of lands in Sapele to the Sapele Okpe Community Land Trust Association.
The union in a statement issued in Sapele by its Secretary General, Mr. Henry Ebireri, further described the actions of these individuals as a revolt against civility and a show of disdain and disregard for the honour and sanctity of the court, which declared indigenes of Sapele Okpe origin as the owners of Sapele.
Specifically, the union called on the Chairman of the Sapele Okpe Community Land Trust Association, Senator David Dafinone and others to decisively act by dragging recalcitrant tenants to court.
The union urged the renowned accountant and other members of the trust to take a position on the abandoned Itsekiri town hall at Azigbo Lane, the church building on the community land near Okirighwe, the proposed Orodje palace project in Sapele, the fenced plot of land along Mission Road and the plot of land near the Sapele Township Stadium,
The union also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the hitherto ‘ Poor Itsekiri boys’ of yesterday acting as agents in the buying up of lands, offering easy payment to the owners and creating problems in the community.
“They are so cash rich that they are able to buy up lands and houses in prominent areas in Sapele. Some are so well funded that they are able to provide easy payments to the owners,” said the union.
The union also appealed to well meaning Nigerians to call the high profile politicians working in cahoots with the tenants to order.
It advised a prominent Okpe chief in Sapele and other Okpe people to pay what they owed to the trust immediately, just as it warned Okpe sons and daughters at home and abroad not to sell their lands to Itsekiri people.
Furthermore, the union queried the use of external law firms by the trust, saying it was high time the trust lawyers woke up to their responsibilities or quit the job.
A Delta State High Court on February 2, in suit between Chief Joseph Onomor and others against the Governor of Delta State and others held that Section 34 (2) of the Land Use Act did not divest the claimants of their reversioners’ interest in the Deed of Lease dated 3/12/1908.
The court held that the land demised by the said deed dated 3/12/1908, had since reverted to the claimants as reversioners under the said lease. The court also restrained the defendants, their agents, privies or assigns from denying the claimants their reversioners’ interest and or rights on the said land covered by the deed of lease dated 3/12/1908. The trust also moved a step further by serving quit notices on land occupants (tenants) not interested in renewing leases on community lands, counseling those interested in remaining on the community lands to urgently enter into a new lease with the association and requesting them to pay all outstanding rent and penalty for non-payment of rent during the period of occupation before the judgment.