By Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Delta Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa on Wednesday, inaugurated a seven-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the land dispute between Oleh and Ozoro communities in the state.
He said at the ceremony at Government House, Asaba that the panel would determine the remote and immediate causes of the conflict between the parties in Oleh and Ozoro communities.
According to the governor, it is disheartening that after all we have been through as a country and a State throughout this year, our State is now confronted with what is obviously an avoidable conflict arising from land dispute.
He said the dispute between Oleh and Ozoro had lingered on for decades and adding that he was aware of the efforts made by Isoko Development Union (IDU) in resolving the dispute to no avail.
He stated that following claims and counter claims from all the parties involved, there was a clear and present danger that the situation might spiral out of control and lead to breakdown of law and order in Ozoro and Oleh, with the possibility of other communities being caught in the crossfire. As an administration, we cannot allow that to happen.
He added that setting up the enquiry was to prevent the situation from escalating into full-blown communal conflict.
He pointed out that peace building remained one of the cardinal programmes of his administration because it is an incontrovertible fact that real development cannot take place in the absence of peace.
“On Monday October 12, 2020, residents of the State woke up to the horrific news that as much as eleven persons were killed at a farm in Oleh while one person is missing. The news was as numbing as it was inexplicable.
“The government quickly waded in to douse the tension and prevent the situation from degenerating into a full-blown inter communal crisis. Through the local government administration, relevant security agencies, and the traditional institutions, working with the Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution, we have been striving to ensure that there are no reprisal attacks while appealing to those who lost their loved ones to the gruesome act to restrain themselves and keep the peace.
“I am aware that this dispute between Ozoro and Oleh has lingered for decades. I am also aware that the Isoko Development Union has been mediating in the matter. As an administration that believes in the bottom-up approach, we gave our full backing to all the efforts of the IDU to resolve the matter amicably, but to no avail.”