2017:Supreme Court Affirms Ibusa Authentic Owners of Admiral University Land Ibusa Community Explodes in Reactions

   “I appeal to our people of Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku to put this whole experience behind us and live like kit and kin” – Austin Izagbo


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·         “I call on the state government to quickly mobilize and do boundary delineation”- Kizito Ijeh

·         “Boundary delineation pursuit, not to be left to Obuzor, ICDU and a few patriots”- Austin Obidi

·          “There will now be peace between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Ukwu”- Femi Okafor

Story by Emeka Esogbue

Asaba, Delta State

The Supreme Court in Abuja has declared Ibusa the authentic owners of the land on which the Admiralty University stands. This development came in a judgment that put an end to the age-long crisis rocking Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku, two neighbouring Anioma communities in Delta State. Ogwashi-Uku clan had brought the matter before the apex court seeking interpretation pertaining the ownership of the parcel of land but the apex court on Tuesday, July 12, 2017 ruled that the land belonged to Ibusa. The Supreme Court judgment would make it the second victory for Ibusa as the apex court had earlier in 1985 awarded Ibusa the ownership of the same land.     

Meanwhile in a spate of responses that trailed the judgment, prominent Ibusa personalities disclosed their reactions to this reporter. The President-General of Ibusa Community Development Union (ICDU), Dr. Austin Izagbo earnestly appealed to indigenes of Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku to put the court experience behind them and continue to live like kit and kin that they are.

The former Delta State Commissioner for Sports and MD/CEO, Caniz Nigeria when contacted stated:

“I rejoice and congratulate His Highness (Obi) Prof Louis Chelunor Nwaoboshi, the Obuzor of Ibusa, all sons and daughters of Ibusa and indeed all people of goodwill on this epoch judgment that finally puts to rest the protracted restiveness on the ownership of the disputed land mass especially as it affects the prime project – Admiralty University facilitated by our own son Admiral Dele Ezeoba (Rtd). I appeal to our people of Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku to put this whole court experience behind us and keep living like the kit and kin that we have always been”.

Former Delta State Commissioner for Millennium Development and Home Front leader of Ibusa Community Development Union (ICDU), Dr. A. R. O. Obidi gave his own opinion of the judgment. The Medical Doctor and one time Chairman of Oshimili North Local Government Area held that no one places something on nothing and expects it to stand. According to him, “Now is the time for Ibusa to insist and pursue the boundary delineation exercise with unparalleled vigour. It is not to be left to the Obuzor, the ICDU and a few patriots. All hands must be on deck in this onerous task; politicians, high network illustrious sons and daughters who can wield influence in the appropriate quarters should stand up”.

He said “Asaba has a Supreme Court judgment they have been avoiding to execute because it will expose chicanery of unimaginable proportions”, and in furtherance observed that Ibusa is battled towards Atakpo, Achalla and all other fronts that evoke smoldering volcano but that could change and would change. For him, the journey of a thousand kilometers begins with a few good steps. “The Supreme Court judgment on the Ibusa-Ogwashi-Uku land issue are those good steps”, said the technocrat who later said he was elated and went on to congratulate his Ibusa people over the cheering news.         

Another prominent Ibusa son and Ibusa Community Development Union leader in the Diaspora, Mr. Emmanuel Isieze Nwadei on hearing the news of the victory uttered elation.

“I heard the calming news yesterday. While I respect the right of our sister town to seek redress, I am equally overjoyed that the court ruled in favour of Ibusa. We have lost a lot to our neighbours in land matters and this is a welcome news. We are looking to quick commencement of academic activities at the school”

He appealed to professionals from Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku and other Anioma communities to use the opportunity availed them by the institution to create a niche within the academic sub-sector. This he said is a sign of great things to come and I am very excited.

“I extend great thanks to our brother, Admiral Dele Ezeoba for his vision. This is a victory for the entire Anioma region”. Remarkably, his wife, Mrs. Nwakaego Obi-Nwadei also joined the euphoria. She said “this ruling has reignited one’s faith in our Supreme Court. This is good for Ibusa and good for Anioma”.   

A prominent palace Chief and Mgboko Isiga of Ibusa, High Chief Ifeanyichukwu Daddi Okeleke who also spoke on the matter specified: This is the first time I am seeing a verdict based on facts before the presiding justices”. The Agunajemba of Ejeme who described the verdict as capable of moving Ibusa forward congratulated the entire people of Delta State while restating his belief that the location of the university in Ibusa is for the good of the entire people of Delta State. He also congratulated the Obuzor of Ibusa, HRM (Obi) Prof Louis Chelunor Nwaoboshi and the Ibusa legal team led by Professor Fidelis Odita, SAN, QC for their brilliance that won the community the matter.

Relieving his experiences, a prominent politician in Ibusa community and Dike Di Oha Nma of Ute Ogbeje, Chief Kizito Ijeh noted that as a concerned son of Ibusa, the victory was an elixir to strayed nerves. In his own words, “This issue had confronted several generations of our people including my late father and several lives had been lost and dislocated. My uncle, Fidelis Ezeife lost his life to this dispute”. Speaking further, he said:

“However, at this juncture, I call on the state government to quickly mobilize and do boundary delineation. Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku need to know where their boundaries are”. He noted that it was by the grace of God that lives have been lost in recent times to the scrimmage especially now that land grabbing is the in-thing in many communities. “We need to look at our other neighbours where same scenario are playing out especially the area of Atakpo River of Ibusa”, the Concerned Ibusa Citizens (CIC) founder submitted.

Also speaking on the matter, Dr. Priscilla Okeleke who described the victory as well deserved recounted that over the years Ibusa had been marginalized in many ways.

“In spite of the fact that we are close to the state capital, no tangible infrastructure has been attracted to our dear town. We have been bombarded on all sides by our neighbours who lay claim to lands but thank God for this particular victory. Justice has prevailed and I am so elated with this Supreme Court judgment”, the academic and member of Ibusa Women Professionals resolved.    

A prominent lawyer in the community, Barr Femi Okafor who wondered why the issue came up in the first place expressed immense gratitude to God for the victory. The Anioma social crusader renowned for advocating change for the better as a result of correcting abuses remarkably envisaged peace between the two communities.

“I know that there will now be peace between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku in this particular area of intractable conflict”.

“These two communities with common origin should see themselves as one and begin to do things that will usher development to the people of both communities. Moreover, the Admiralty University in question will serve indigenes of both communities and even beyond. It is therefore to the good of all irrespective of who owns the land that the university is in existence in the first place”.  

Youths were not excluded from pouring their views. Josephine Isioma Nwannabuogwu, Head of Department, Welfare Department of Igbuzo Singles Meet and Initiator of Home of Mercy Foundation expressed joy over the victory, asserting that the consequences of losing the land together with the institution attracted by an Ibusa son would have been disastrous for the Ibusa community. Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Ruth Nkeaka, a Medical Doctor and Aide to the serving Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Delta on Youth Development, Hon Innocent Esewezie while speaking to this reporter said:

“I heard the judgment had been earlier passed in 1985. Well, this victory again at the Supreme Court demonstrates the judiciary as indeed consistent and fair in truth. At the same time, it has become necessary at this point for the State Government to take the issue of boundary demarcation very serious to avert such prolonged litigations. This is because matters of this nature has a direct effect of hindering development in affected communities”.  

For Maxwell Ajufo, one of the leaders of Ibusa youth Parliament, “the victory shows we can still believe and count on the Nigerian justice system”.

“What belongs to Ibusa has been so affirmed by justice”.   

Author of “Wild Ixora”, Philip Ngozi Ifechukwude did not fail to add his voice. The renowned novelist and poet viewed the judgment as a big victory for the people of Ezemese and entire Ibusa. He educed that “before now, the issue of boundary demarcation has become a perennial one, judging by the stand of Ogwashi-Uku people that their boundary with Asaba is at Ashia Okpulukpu by Nkpanyala. So one wonders where the logic behind the non-existence of Ibusa ab initio in the arrival of a boundary between Asaba and Ibusa”. He indicated that land and boundary issues have been a prevalent concern since the creation of Delta State with Asaba as capital.

“Even with the earlier judgment of the same Supreme Court in 1985, it is quite absurd to nonchalantly exhume the case because a Naval University is sited equidistant between the two towns”

“Thank God for the revalidation of the judgment again as this will put to rest the matter”. 

According to John Okpara Okwusi who congratulated the people of Ibusa, the judgment was a vindication. He appealed to the people of Ogwashi-Uku to see the two communities as two close brothers. “There are no reasons to fight each other since we have lived peacefully for centuries hence they shouldn’t see Ibusa victory as unusual. Life continues”, he advised.  

Hon Pat Mozea, an indigene of Ibusa and one time member of Delta State House of Assembly concluded that “it is a welcome development. However, I particularly commend the maturity of the two communities involved for going to the court to sort their differences instead of resorting to violence. That is the most civilized approach to solving issues. I consider the judgment a victory to the peace-loving people of the two communities. They are all winners. It is hoped that having awarded its judgment, the Delta State Government will come in as an impartial arbiter to undertake a proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two communities in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court”. Ms. Nwabunma Ajufo hoped that HRM (Obi) Prof Okonjo, the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku and Ogwashi-uku indigenes would accept the judgment and let peace reign.

In what seemed like an extension of olive tree, Ify Peace, an Ogwashi-Uku indigene while commenting on Facebook post made by Daddy O Concept wrote:

“Congratulations to you people. I am from Ogwashi-Uku but I have nothing against the judgment if that is the truth. We are all one and this should not result in name calling. Even biological brothers fight over what belongs to one. Love you all my Ogwashi-Uku and Ibusa brothers and sisters”.

The above comment stirred Mr. Delly Ajufo, another Ibusa indigene to unassumingly respond so: “Ify Peace, bless you. More like you will make the world a much better place, the future belongs to people like you. No victor, no vanquished”. 

The institution situated on the land was the Naval College attracted by Admiral Dele Ezeoba, the nation’s former Chief of Naval Staff from Ibusa. It was in 2016 renamed “University of Science, Arts and Maritime, Ibusa. In February, 2017, a joint team of National Universities Commission, Special Committee for Private Universities and the Nigerian Navy paid the Obuzor of Ibusa, HRM Obi (Prof) Louis Nwaoboshi a visit, in an event also attended by Concerned Ibusa Citizens. In the brief ceremony that followed, upgrading and renaming of the institution to “Maritime University, Ibusa was announced.

The history of the land disputed by both communities dates back to 1936 with the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in 1985 ruling that the land belonged to Ibusa. However, on why the matter appeared before the apex court the second time, one of the members of the Ibusa legal team who spoke to this reporter said that it was not unusual.

“Ogwashi-Uku people had noted a clerical error in the 1985 judgment of the Supreme Court and sought a redress but the apex court corrected while still affirming its earlier verdict and concluding that the land rightfully belongs to the people of Ibusa and not Ogwashi-Uku”.  

Comment of an Ibusa traditional ruler
The Obi of Ogwashiuku just embarked on a fruitless journey,a journey his Father was not able to accomplished,well there is no harm in trial,it’s an exercise in futility

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