Police wade into Ogbe-Ijoh/Agbassa feud over levy collection

Warri Area Commander, ACP Muhammed Muazu and representatives of other security agencies, have waded into the crisis between Ogbe-Ijoh and Agbassa communities in Warri South-West and Warri-South local government areas of Delta State.

Warri Area Commander, ACP Mohammed Muazu with leaders of Agbassa and Ogbe-Ijoh communities after the brokered truce on Tuesday. PHOTOS: EBENEZER ADUROKIYA.
Warri Area Commander, ACP Mohammed Muazu, with leaders of Agbassa and Ogbe-Ijoh communities, after they brokered truce on Tuesday. PHOTOS: EBENEZER ADUROKIYA.

Crisis erupted on Tuesday morning between both communities over ownership and who should collect levies from traders at the yet-to-be-completed Ogbe-Ijoh Iron Market.

Contrary to reports on Tuesday that a court verdict had declared Agbassa community as the owner of the market, Metro gathered, on Wednesday, that the case is still pending in court.

At a meeting at A-Division under the Area Commander, ACP Muazu, on Tuesday evening in which leaders of the two communities were represented, a peace pact was signed.

The peace pact, ACP Muazu said, was to the effect that both communities should stop further collection of revenue from traders in the market until government intervened on the ownership of the land.

Both parties, at the truce meeting, reeled out their narratives of ownership of the land and market.

Chief Lucky Oromoni and others, who spoke on behalf of Ogbe-Ijoh community, claimed that the market, from time immemorial, belonged to them and revenue collection by a committee has been ongoing for long.

Francis Ugbejevun, representing Agbassa, argued that the government, which owned and built the market and not Ogbe-Ijoh, should be allowed to collect revenue from traders in the market, adding that the name “Ogbe-Ijoh market” should be done away with.

Chief Monday Keme, another leader in Ogbe-Ijoh community, however, traced the crisis to seven traders who had refused, in spite of all pleas from the police and the state government, to agree to pay their N6,000 levies.

Keme, who said the levies are used to settle security men, evacuate refuse and other miscellaneous, alleged that the recalcitrant traders were being sponsored by the Urhobos and the Itsekiris to take over the land from the Ijaws.

When asked why levies should be left to a committee from Ogbe-Ijoh to administer instead of the government, Chief Keme averred that it was to ensure sanity and the fact that the government was yet to complete the market.

He denied the imposition of levies on traders, saying it was a collective agreement arrived at with the traders, just as it is done in other markets in Warri metropolis.

Meanwhile,  the state government was said to have mediated on the imbroglio on September 19 between both parties and would be making their verdict known tomorrow at Government House Annex, Warri.