- Governor accuses traditional ruler of imperialism over claim to Lokoja, Ajaokuta
- Says ‘no one should test my will’
James AZANIA, Lokoja
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State on Friday alleged imperialism in his first reaction to a court ruling ceding Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton-Karfe to Igalaland.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja last week gave judgment in favour of Attah Igala, Michael Ameh Oboni 11, in a suit claiming lordship of the three areas.
The court said lands in the three LGAs belong to the Igala on the strength of the 1841 ‘business relationship’ between the colonial masters and the then Attah.
It awarded a N10 billion cost in favour of the plaintiff.
The court ruling has sparked tension across the state with the people of the three areas declaring that they are not Igala.
Residents fear that the situation may degenerate into an inter-ethnic conflict.
Governor Yahaya Bello in a radio broadcast said the Attah’s suit “amounts to imperialism” and such a case has no basis in the modern world.
He urged the people of the affected communities to remain calm and appeal the high court ruling.
He said: “During the week, I heard about a court pronouncement instituted by one traditional ruler that Lokoja, Ajaokuta and Koton-Karfe belong to the Igala Kingdom.
“I urge all the people in those communities to remain calm over the court pronouncement.
“The people should seek legal redress about the judgment.
“But, let me state categorically that my administration abhors ethnic segregation, tribalism and sectionalism. Imperialism has no place in the modern world.
“We have created a state that will give equal opportunity to every citizen of the state. Any act of imperialism will meet stiff opposition from us and will be resisted vehemently.
“Any proclamation or court case that does not foster unity and cohesion in the state will not be tolerated. Any idea of division will not be taken. We cannot afford to divide ourselves in Kogi State.
“We are all witness to the killing of George Floyd in America by a white police officer and how the whole world is responding to it.
“Anybody, no matter how highly placed you may be, or lowly you placed yourself, that will fan the ember of disunity, will be dealt with.
“Nobody should test my will.”
Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton-Karfe fall outside of the Kogi East Senatorial District which is wholly Igala.
Ajaokuta is predominantly populated by the Ebira while Lokoja and Koton-Karfe are inhabited by diverse ethnic groups including the Oworo, Ebira Koto, Budon, Nupe, Kakanda and the Bassa.
Governor Bello is Ebirra.