Oil Spillage Imbroglio: Michael Johnny Speaks, Says Ijaws And Itsekiris Won’t Fight Again

By Binebai Princewill 

Following counter and cross counter statements among the Ijaws of Gbaramatu and that of their Itsekiri brothers in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State over the controversial oil spillage in the area,  a prominent Ijaw leader in the area, High Chief Michael Johnny has called for calm among the Ijaws of Gbaramatu and the Itsekiris, saying that the two ethnic nationalities will not fight  again. 

The former All Progressive Congress (APC) Delta South Senatorial District aspirant and Delta Ijaw  APC leader, Chief Michael Johnny dropped the hint via a press statement he personally signed and issued to newsmen in Warri yesterday, a copy of which was sent to The Liberator Newspapers Worldwide. 

The statement reads in full below:

CHEVRON’S OIL SPILL CONTROVERSY: IJAW AND ITSEKIRI WILL NEVER FIGHT AGAIN, AND THIS STRANGE DRUM OF WAR WILL FAIL.

Press Release

17th April, 2021.

My attention was drawn to the unnecessary claims and counter publications in the media by Ijaws of Gbaramatu and our Itsekiri brothers both in Warri South-West and Warri South over ownership of oil facilities and who should be invited or not by Chevron Nigeria Limited to a Joint Investigation Verification JIV over the oil spill which occured recently.

I strongly condemn the avoidable, unnecesary controversy and bad blood being generated between Gbaramatu Ijaws and their Itsekiri neighbours and brothers over the proposed Joint Investigation Verification, JIV, to the ascertain the cause of the crude oil spill at Abiteye and Utonana Fields in Warri South and Warri South-West Local Government Areas of Delta State.

And, let me emphasize that nobody, person (s) both in Ijaw and Itsekiri for whatsoever reason should instigate the Ijaws and Itsekiri into another crisis over oil spillage incident.

More so, let me remind Ijaws of Gbaramatu and our Itsekiri brothers that we will never fight again, and we must collectively avoid anything capable of causing disunity and disaffection among us.

The Ijaws of Gbaramatu and Itsekiri in Warri South West and Warri South are never enemies, our only enemy is ” bad leadership, marginalization, underdevelopment and poverty in our communities”… 

This is the enemy we should jointly tackle to bring development to our communities, emancipate our suffering people, aged parents in the underdeveloped rural and neglected riverine communities from hunger and abject poverty.

I want to sincerely thank the Traditional Ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba, the Pere of the Gbaramatu Kingdom for his prompt intervention on this matter. 

Regrettably, the oil spillage is causing havoc to our environment and a serious hazard to the health of our people, this is not the time to issue threats, make claims and counter claims over ownership of oil facilities, rather, we should allow Chevron Nigeria Limited to immediately carry out the Joint Investigation Verification, to ascertain the cause of the crude oil spill, clean up the spill and do the needful to compensate all the affected Ijaw and Itsekiri communities.

When, I was Chairman of Egbema Gbaramatu Communities Development Foundation, I ensured that the Ijaws and Itsekiri worked together, and the Ijaws and Itsekiri communities respectively benefits from  Abiteye, Utonana, Markaraba, Odidi, Egwa  Fields etc, while we protects the interest of Itsekiri and also the Itsekiri protects our interest before Chevron Nigeria Limited.

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This strange drum of war will fail, and those playing the drum of war should be reminded that Ijaws and Itsekiri in Warri South West and Warri South will never fight again, not now and not in the future to come. We must give peace a chance.

To my brothers in Gbaramatu Kingdom, dialogue is key, we are peaceful people. Yes, humans sometimes disagree to agree, however, we cannot afford another unnecessary fight with our Itsekiri brothers, because we share a common boundary, inter-marry and do businesses together which shall remain so till the world ends. 

Also, to our Itsekiri brothers, the quick to call or refer to Ijaws of Gbaramatu as tenents to Itsekiri or Itsekiri are landlords to Ijaws in our own land relying on courts judgements should stop. Lands are inherited and not by courts judgements. We all know our history, and we also know that Courts judgments can be procured!

We need peace and not fight, because our already suffering people and underprivileged parents in our rural and riverine communities would be made to suffer more. This strange drum of war should be rejected.

Let me advise that nobody or persons both in Ijaw or Itsekiri should use the Chevron’s oil spillage incident to instigate Ijaw and Itsekiri into fight to suit their personal gains, we are ready to expose such persons should they fail to desist.

We are host to Chevron Nigeria Limited and all the facilities being operated by Chevron, it is also our responsibility to protect these facilities and Chevron’s investments, while Chevron is also under obligation to maintain a cordial relationship with the host communities.

We should be careful and sensitive not to unknowingly become tools in the hands of  forces who are eyeing Chevron’s assets and wants to chase Chevron out of our communities ( creeks). We are witnesses to what happened to Shell Peteoluem Development Company SPDC.

Finally, I am calling on all Chairmen of Ijaw and Itsekiri communities affected by the Chevron’s oil spillage to put aside ethnic sentiments, embrace peace and dialogue and collectively ensure that the JIV is done, clean up carried out and affected Ijaw and Itsekiri communities adequately compensated. 

May the PEACE OF GOD reign in our land, communities and among us.

Thanks.

SIGNED:

High Chief Michael Johnny

Former Chairman,

Egbema Gbaramatu Communities Development Foundation EGCDF.

Former APC Senatorial Aspirant ( Delta South)

Ijaw APC leader, Delta State.

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