Two Rivers communities on war path over land dispute

By Kelechi Esogwa-Amadi

Unless a quick intervention comes, the people of Rumuokwurusi and Iriebe Communities in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State may set for an unprecedented inter-tribal war over a land dispute.

The two communities said to be brothers and sons of Esara, according to history, are currently in dispute over a large parcel of land in Iriebe Community, which is accusing Rumuokwurusi of laying false accusations against it.

TPCN gathered that the Rumuokwurusi people had made a publication in one of the local tabloids in Port Harcourt last week, claiming that Iriebe people are hijacking and selling their land to people.

The publication, it was further gathered, so angered the people of Iriebe that their paramount ruler, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu, issued a strong-worded statement refuting the published claims of the Rumuokwurusi people.

TPCN learnt that in the statement, the Iriebe Paramount Ruler maintained that the said land which Rumuokwurusi people are claiming to be theirs belongs to Iriebe Community.

He also stated that the land had been sold to people over the years some of who are from Rivers and other states, adding that some of the buyers used the land for investments.

The Iriebe Paramount Ruler also in the statement, revealed that Iriebe was the first son of Esara and therefore senior to Rumuokwurusi, hence there is no basis for the latter to lay claim on the land.

The Iriebe Paramount Ruler’s statement regarding the disputed land is said to have further provoked the people of Rumuokwurusi who have allegedly vowed to pursue the case to any level until it recovers the land.

An indigene of Rumuokwurusi, who spoke to TPCN yesterday but pleaded that his name should not be mentioned, revealed that there is tension in his community because of the matter, adding that his people are very angry and may resort to force to recover the land.

“As am talking to you now, our youths are angrier than the elders and they are considering using force to recover the land. What is infuriating them the more is the claim by the Iriebe Paramount Ruler that they are the firstborn of Esara and older than Okwurusi. Are we talking about seniority in this matter or ownership of land? They should stop encroaching on our land, period,” he said.

As at the time of filing in this report, it was not possible to reach both the Rumuokwurusi and Iriebe Paramount Rulers for reactions to the issue. Investigations, however, are still ongoing.