THE exact location and naming of the proposed Maritime University of Nigeria, to be sited in Delta State, caused disagreement between Ijaw and Itsekiri at the National Assembly, Abuja, Tuesday.
The disagreement ensued during a public hearing on a Bill for an Act to establish the Maritime University “Okerenkoko,” Delta State, organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND.
It will be recalled that Ijaw and Itsekiri leaders were at loggerheads over the name of the university and the place it would be sited.
While Gbaramatu community, Ijaw speaking area, called the name of the location of the university Okerenkoko, leaders of Omadino community, Itsekiri speaking area, said the name of the location of the university is Okerenghigho.
The Bill named the institution, Maritime University of Nigeria, “Okerenkoko” in Gbaramatu community, but Itsekiri leaders were asking the Senate to change the name of the location of the institution to Okerenghigho in Omadino community, allegedly in line with a valid court judgment.
Chief Fedude Zimughan, an Ijaw leader who spoke on behalf of others, did not spare Ijaw Itsekiri representatives at the public hearing, saying they obtained a “black market” court judgment.
Spokesman of Itsekiri, Mr Edward Ekpoko, noted that though the people supported the establishment of the university, the current name of the institution must be changed, in line with a court judgment given in their favour.
Ekpoko, who also represented Omadino community, said the land where the university was sited was owned by Itsekiri people and supervised by the Olu of Warri.
“This issue has been settled by the judiciary. It was first settled in 1951. In 1975, they appealed the case and it was dismissed by the Supreme Court. We must follow the law. We cannot see the law and do the opposite. The name of the place should be changed to Okerenghigho and not Okerenkoko,” he said.
But the registrar of the university, Mr Nathaniel Anho, who stood in for the Vice Chancellor, urged the Senate not to change the name of the location of the institution.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau, said lawmakers would do the right thing and look for a way to resolve the differences.