The Ijaw National Congress has frowned on the ongoing conflict between Ikoro, an Ijaw community and Obazuwa, a Bini community, in Edo State.
The President of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, in a statement on Monday urged the two warring communities to sheathe their swords and embrace peace.
He described the conflict as “a fratricidal crisis,” noting that it had reportedly involved the use of lethal weapons which had resulted in the destruction of lives and property.
“This is not acceptable to us as indigenous peoples of ljaw and Bini. The Niger Delta ethnic nationalities are minorities who have over time suffered the same fate of oppression, neglect, deprivation exploitation and marginalisation generally in the wider Nigeria clime,” Okaba said.
He said it was regrettable that the two neighbouring communities who share similar existential challenges could engage themselves in acts of self-destruction at a time the county’s situation had made inter-ethnic unity, cooperation and solidarity more imperative.
Okaba, a professor of Sociology at the Federal University, Otuoke, said the Ijaw and Binis and indeed other Niger Delta groups should continue to eschew bitterness and explore non-violent mechanisms and options to resolve their misunderstandings.
He called on Governor Godwin Obaseki to wade into the inter-communal conflict and restore peace between Ikoro and Obazuwa communities.
Okaba said, “The INC is confident that the governor shall extend his fatherly tentacles and treat all the parties involved equally as citizens of Edo State without ethnic biases.
“We, therefore, call on these warring communities to sheath their swords and embrace peaceful dialogue and arbitration processes to address whatever reasons are behind this conflict that has led to the degree of provocation and aggression we have seen so far.”
According to him, the INC was ready to partner the Edo State government and the Bini socio-cultural organisation to resolve the crisis amicably, stressing that there was no better alternative to constructive dialogue and engagement in conflict resolution and management.
Okaba said the INC would continue to leverage on the strategic initiatives initiated by the apex Ijaw socio-cultural organisation and the leadership of the Conference of Presidents-General of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities to build stronger unity among the people.
He, however, commended the security agencies for their intervention and further appealed to Ikoro and Obazuwa communities to promote peaceful co-existence. PUNCH