Who Owns Warri Urban?

Olu of Warri 



One would ask, is this still a question? Wasn’t this settled over 50years ago that itsekiri’s are the sole owners of Warri? But no the urhobo’s of Warri south seems to forget themselves and obviously wants to dare the itsekiri’s.


It is funny that the urhobo’s claims to own warri when they have just 5 communities in Warri south with itsekiri having 30.


The migration of agbassa urhobo’s into Warri is well documented. Both by early Europeans who were eyewitnesses and from court records.


On how urhobo’s got to Warri.


Rev JOHN HUBBARD, an Anglican Missionary, in his book; The SOBO of the NIGER DELTA (1948) at page 7 says:


“A migration occurred late in the Eighteenth Century from a SOBO Town called AGBARHA about 23 miles east of Warri in the middle of the Sobo country crossed the Warri river and by negotiation with the Olu of Warri obtained land from him, built a village of their own which they named after their home town Agbarha. This is now one of the quarters of Warri Township”


ADJUDICATIONS ON WARRI LANDS


There have been 21 land cases in Warri, with 16 involving ownership of warri. The Itsekiri’s won all, except a farmland case, but the title to the land still belongs to the Olu of Warri.


Now, dear Nigerians, based on these court cases, judge for yourselves who truly owns Warri.


Important Note; the title the Olu was called in the court cases was due to the political name change from Olu of Warri to Olu of itsekiri which was later reversed back to Olu of Warri. And also jekri is the corrupted version of the name itsekiri.


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 𝟏:

        

“IN THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA DIVISIONAL COURT, EASTERN DIVISION, WARRI ASSIZES, THE 6TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 1925”


Before His Honour Mr. Justice T. D. Maxwell, Judge. 


OGEGEDE (on behalf of Himself and the Agbassa People)


Versus


Dore Numa


Claim: An account of rents


JUDGEMENT:


“I see no reason for granting the application which was before me yesterday viz, that Chiefs Ogbobine and Omagbemi should be joined in this case as Co-defendants.


Plaintiff’s claim is for an account of rents collected by the defendant in respect of portions of Agbassa land leased to the Government since 1908. No explanation has been given me as to why there has been a delay of 17 years in preferring it. 


They come to this Court in the persons of a series of utterly illiterate peasant witnesses. Of the first three, each of them seemed to me merely senile; and I accept (not without hesitation) their Counsel’s assertion that they were sober or at least normal in the witness-box. Each of the others seemed to me to be abysmally stupid as well as ignorant.


The evidence, such as it is, of the whole set of them is a tissue of hearsay, of rumor, of contradictions, of absurdities. Where it is not merely fatuous it is obviously fictitious.


The local (and legal) position of the defendant was on 1st February, 1924, finally laid down by the Full Court in Denedo v. Dore Numa.

That decision has been acted upon by the Executive without any opposition or criticism until the filing of this case, which if successful would strike out its very root. 


I do not consider it necessary to call upon the defendant or his witnesses; the onus of proof is on the plaintiffs and they have, in my opinion, singularly failed to discharge it.


Their claim seems to me both idle and preposterous. The fact that they have made it at all (and of that I can take judicial cognizance) has caused no little local excitement, and has to a certain degree dislocated trade and might even have led to a breach of the peace. I dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim and award costs to defendant assessed at one hundred and twenty-five guineas”.


(Signed) T. D. MAXWELL, Judge

6TH NOVEMSER, 1925


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 𝟐:


Having lost the above case the Urhobos of Agbassa came out more directly with their intentions in the claim for absolute ownership of Warri. In 1926, Ometan, on behalf of the Agbassa Urhobos re-opened the case which Ogedede had lost in the previous year. This became known as the celebrated Ometan versus Chief Dore Numa Case. 


The judgement of Webber, J. reported in Nigeria Law Report pages 46-50 is as follows:-

OMETAN  VERSUS  CHIEF DORE

“The case before me teams with lies and acts of acquiescence on the part of the plaintiff and the Agbassa people.


As to the evidence on which the Plaintiff and his people seek a declaration of title to these lands, there is no evidence of actual occupation by the Agbassa people of any of these lands except Agbassa village which has a Jekri name and certain farm lands at Odion and Fugbe.


There can be no doubt on the evidence and this has never been denied by the Defendant and his people that Agbassa over one hundred years ago (i. e. before 1926) came from Agbassa Otor and settled at Agbassa Village and farmed in the vicinity thereof.

The evidence as to whether the Jekris permitted them to have land there and exercised overlordship over them or whether the Agbassa first arrived there is, to some extent, traditional.


This question as to who were the first arrivals can only be determined by reference to events and facts which have happened and are known to us during the last four or five decades.


Now, it has been clearly established that the defendant, as successor to the Olu of Jekris and the paramount Chief of the Jekris, has exercised ownership over most of the lands at present claimed by these Agbassas from the beginning of this century. The cases which have come before these Courts show that as the Olu of the Jekris, the defendant has always exercised sovereign rights over all these lands: leases granted by defendant to Government for Ogbejo (sic Ogbe-Ijaw) 1906, Alder, Wilkey, and Pessu Towns (1908) and the land adjoining Agbassa Village (1911).


Actual occupation by Government and receipts of rents by the defendant with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Agbassa people.


The particular features in this case are all in support of the contention that the Jekris are owners of the land, viz :-


(a)  There are no Agbassa people in Qgbejo (sic Qgbe-Ijaw), Wilkey Town, Alder’s Town, and Pessu Town.


(b)  The head Chief of Odion is Jekri.


(c)  The head Chief of  Fugbe is Jekri.


(d)  Agbassa Village is known as “Bomali” which is a Jekri word.


(e)  Not a single Chief of the surrounding lands supports the Agbassa claim.


The head Chief of Effurun, a Sobo man, says that the only land Agbassa possesses is a place called “Bomali” and that the Olu of the Jekris gave it to Agbassa.


And as to services rendered and tribute paid by Agbassa to the Olu of the Jekris, I have no reason to disbelieve the evidence of the defendant and his witnesses on these points.


I am satisfied on the evidence, apart from any legal plea of res judicata that when the Agbassa came to Warri they were given permission by the Olu of Jekris to settle on land which is now known as Bomali or Agbassa Village and that permission was granted to them to farm on lands adjoining their villages.


That from earliest times and during recent years, the Agbassa rendered service to the defendant as overlord.


The present action for a declaration of title is misconceived. If years ago their occupation of their village and farmlands was interfered with, and if assistance was refused them by their overlord, an action that under native law and custom they were entitled to remain in occupation without in any way questioning the overlordship of the defendant, might have been maintainable and the principles laid down in the 1921 case as to the position of strangers who were granted land by the Olu might be applied.


The evidence (sic the plaintiff’s evidence) does not warrant a declaration.


On the contrary the evidence negatives ownership by Agbassa people of the lands known as Ogbe-Ijaw, Alder’s Town, Wilkey Town and Pessu Town. As to Agbassa, Odion and Fugbe, no Court could deny the rights of Agbassa to occupy same according to Native Law and Custom provided the overlordship of the Olu of the Jekri was recognized.


As to their claim for declaration of title the Agbassas have failed.”


Again the Itsekiris won the case and the Agbassa people ware obliged by the judgment to recognize the overlordship of the Olu as a condition for remaining on the land.

This condition applies in all the other cases.


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ‘:


AGBASSA APPEAL TO THE FULL COURT (NOW SUPREME COURT)


The Agbassas were dissatisfied with the above judgement and appealed to the Full Court. The judgement of the Full Court consisting of Kingdom C, J. Berkeley and Butler Lloyd JJ. was delivered in Lagos on 13th March 1931 by BERKELEY, J. – See Nigeria Law Reports Pages 50-52


After reviewing the evidence and analyzing the proceedings in the Court below, Berkeley, J., had the following to say, viz:-


“In this appeal, the appellants belong to the Sobo tribe known as Agbassa. They are claiming the overlordship of the greater part of Warri as against the defendant who represents the Jekri tribe. The defendant in his representative capacity is at present the officially recognized owner of the land in dispute and the Government has leased a considerable area of land in Warri from him in that capacity.


“The plaintiffs, (i.e. appellants) do not seek in any way to disturb the existing leases, but they claim as of right to be substituted for the defendant in the overlordship of the territory in dispute.


It should be noted that this is a claim put forward to upset an existing state of affairs, and that the legal relationship between the parties, which the plaintiff now seeks to reverse, has been in existence for a great many years.


The onus is on the plaintiff to establish the existence of the rights which he claims and not on the defendant to uphold his own rights which have already been recognized and at present exist.


Throughout the evidence given in the Court below, the plaintiff has nowhere been able to establish the fact that at any time the Agbassas were recognized as the overlords of the Jekri people. What they do is to plead their own occupation of portions of Warri land, deny that they ever paid tribute to the Olu of Jekris, and assert that they were in Warri before the Jekris came there.


The defendant on the other hand asserts that the Jekri tribe were the first to settle in Warri, that their Olu gave the Agbassas a piece of land to live upon and other land to farm, and that the Agbassas have paid tribute or rendered service to Olu for this land from time to time. The defendant is also able to point to certain leases of Warri land made by the Olu of the Jekri to the Government. These leases go back to the early years of the present century, and have been extensively built over since.


With regard to these leases, the plaintiffs explain their acquiescence by saying that they know nothing about them.


But this explanation is not credible. Warri is a restricted area of solid ground enclosed by mangrove swamps and creeks. It is impossible that extensive building operations of a permanent nature could be carried on over a period of years in such an area without the knowledge of those who claim to be the overlords of the land and were actually living on the area.


In my opinion, the Agbassa were given permission by the Olu of Jekris to settle on land in Warri. That they have since increased in numbers, wealth and importance until now they feel themselves strong enough to impugn the title of their overlord.


Nor do they limit claim to land they themselves occupy, but seek to establish rights of overlordship to land which has always hitherto been recognized as Jerki.


In my opinion they have failed to establish their claims.


I consider that this appeal should be dismissed”.


The other two members of the Full Court gave their concurrence to the judgement by Berke1ey, J. above, and the appeal of the Agbassas was dismissed with costs.


One would like to call attention to paragraphs 3 and 4 from the bottom of the judgement and in particular to the word “impugn” in the fourth paragraph from the bottom that is “That they have since increased in numbers, wealth and importance until now they feel themselves strong enough to impugn the title of their overlord.


“Nor do they limit their claim to land which they themselves occupy, but seek to establish rights of overlordship to land which has always hitherto been recognized as Jekri”. How apt!


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ’:


AGBASSA APPEAL TO THE PRIVY COUNCIL


Never seeming able to understand, or perhaps in their self conceit, the Agbassa people appealed to the Privy Council in London and this appeal was listed as No. 65 of 1932.


Lord ATKIN delivered the judgement of the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council present, who were LORD ATKIN, LORD ALNESS and SIR SIDNEY ROWLATT. The judgement was as follows :-


“This is an appeal from the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who dismissed the present appellant’s appeal from the Judgement of Mr. Justice Webber in an action in which the appellant was plaintiff and the respondents were defendants. It was an action brought by the plaintiffs on behalf of a tribe or sub-tribe in that district of the Agbassa people claiming territorial rights over land known as the Agbassa land in the Warri District of the Southern Province of Nigeria. The dispute was between the plaintiff representing the Agbassa people and the defendants representing another tribe or sub-tribe of the Jekri people claiming to be overlords of this territory.


In the circumstances, there being concurrent findings of fact and there being in addition ample evidence to support them, it is quite impossible for their Lordships to interfere with the decisions which have been arrived at by both Courts and their Lordships will therefore humbly advise His Majesty that this appeal should be dismissed. The respondents must have the cost of the appeal”. See 11 Nigeria Law Reports, Pages 18& 19.


At this point, we would summarize thus that the Agbassas lost their battle for the ownership of Warri Lands two times at the Supreme Court (Now High Court) in Warri in 1925 and 1926, went on Appeal to the Full Court (now Federal Supreme Court) in 1931 and lost; then went to the Privy Council where they also failed in 1933. What else could anybody need in order to know that the Itsekiris are the owners of Warri, including Agbassa?


It is relevant at this point to say that even the Privy Council decision did not end the baseless claim of the Agbassa Urhobos.

Each time Government sought to acquire lands in Agbassa and Igbudu areas, the Urhobos of Agbassa would claim the entire proceeds for themselves denying the overlordship rights of the Olu.


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ“:


In Suit No. W /44/1941 – Assistant Judge John Jackson found:


“There is no question, I think that all claimants admit that the land, now the subject of this action, formed a part of the land that was the subject of the action Ometan v. Chief Dore Numa and … as between the claimants before me, all of whom were either parties or successors-in-title to the parties in the case of Ometan v. Chief Dore Numa these parties are ESTOPPED from denying those facts which were in issue and which were material to the finding of the Court in that case. . .” (Capitals ours).


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ”:   


In Suit No. W/3/1949 Ademola, Ag. Judge said:


“It is common groud among the claimants that the land in question is in Agbassa District in Warri. It is also admitted that this is part of the land to which judgement in the celebrated case as Agbassa Land Case (Ometan v. Chief Dore Numa…) applies. The second and third group of the claimants therefore do not dispute the first claimants claim to the land. In other words, they recognize the overlordship of the Olu of Itsekiri who is the virtual owner of the land in trust for the Itsekiri people.


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ•:


In Suits Nos. W/121 /57 and W/41 /57 Obaseki, J.


The judge held in substance that “Agbassa Community are tenants under native law and custom and subject to the overlordship of the Olu of Warri now replaced by Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees and that the Trustees have the right to and can convey legal estate in land either for a term of years or in fee simple”.


In SC. 67/1971 & SC. 327/1972 (Consolidated), the Supreme Court presided over by U. Udoma, G. S. Sowemimo, D. O. Ibekwe, SC.JJ on 23rd November 1973 affirmed Justice Qbaseki’s judgement in Suits Nos. W/121 /57 and W/41 /57 mentioned above.


Still, on 28th November 1973, the Supreme Court presided over by the same Judges in Suit No. SC. 328/1972 affirmed another judgement of Obaseki J. and said on this issue of the overlordship rights of the Itsekiri Communal land Trustee over Agbassa lands inter alia:


“We are satisfied that the approach of the learned judge to the issue under consideration was correct and that his decision is unimpeachable. It is right.”


Now this case isn’t part of Warri ownership. It is a case between ijaws and urhobo’s here as they testified on the Olu ownership of the entire areas.


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ–:


Here we quote an interesting case, a Suit between Urhobos and Ijaws fighting it out amongst themselves for once with neither parties calling in the Olu of Warri or any Itsekiri. This is what they had to say:


In Suit No. B/10/1934 Between AYA (on behalf of himself and The People of Ogbe-Sobo) – Plaintiffs


AND


OKORO and DOMOKOROMO and THE PEOPLE OF SABA – DEFENDANTS


The Urhobos of Ogbe-Sobo IN WESTERN URHOBO DIVISION in 1934 sued the Saba Ijaws in Warri Division claiming for a declaration of title to a piece or parcel of land lying within Warri Division. In his evidence for the first witness for the defense, Domokoromo from an Ijaw enclave in Warri Division known as Saba, stated on oath that his ancestors migrated from a place in Western Ijaw and further stated that when they came to the area the lands were unoccupied. “I said my people saw no one on the land where we are now. They saw the Olu of Jekris were there but not actually on the land we are on now. They were at BIG WARRI. The Olu of Jekris gave us the land we are on now but he made no restrictions. He just gave the land we are on now, and we have been there ever since…


“The Olu will know to whom he gave the land. I know the German Factory. It is on the Warri River. The Olu gave that land there to the Ogbe-Sobo people.


Defendants 4th witness, OMISIKUTA – an Ijaw from Saba (Ijaw enclave in Warri Division) in his evidence stated, “When my ancestors got to Saba there was no one living there. When they arrived, the Olu of Jekri owned the country and they went to give themselves to him.


When I say they gave themselves to the Olu, I mean that they went to him as he was the big man of the area and people gave themselves up to him as this was the custom in those days for protection”.


In his judgement delivered on 5/2/35 in favor of the Saba Ijaws in Warri Division, M.T.D.M. Bartley (Assistant Judge) observed as follows:


“The defendants depend on the following evidence in support of their traditional history – The production of a lease of land to a German Company (Ex. “B”) at Ogbe Sobo Village which land though not part of the area in dispute is yet on the land shown in Ex. “A” as constituting Ogbe Sobo land. The lease is not only signed by the Ogbe Sobo Chiefs but also by Chief Dore who was head of Jekris. This tends to establish defendant’s claim that the Jekris (Itsekiris) were the original owners of the land as from the evidence; it appears that by native law and customs, people allowed to settle on the land have no right to lease a portion of it without the permission of the original owner.


It is true that the lease tends to corroborate their allegation that the Olu of Jekri has an interest in Ogbe Sobo land. It is quite possible that neither party wished to put forward Jekri Chiefs or Headmen as witnesses”


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 πŸ—:


In the case of Chief Sam Warri Essi and Others (for themselves and on behalf of the Agbassa people of Warri) Versus Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees (substituted for Gbesimi Emiko, Erejuwa II, the Olu of Warri) AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Western Region) reported at page 17 WNLR (1961) decided by Adeyinka Morgan, J. on the 3rd of December 1960, the claim of the Agbassa people was for a declaration that a lease executed in 1911 on behalf of the Itsekiri people by Chief Dore and Qgbe as lessors and the Government of Nigeria as lessee was NULL AND VOID. Dismissing the action Adeyinka Morgan J. observed:-


“The judgement of the then Supreme Court, starting at page 22 of Ex. A, refers to a term of settlement which included the following statement about the position of strangers.


“Where strangers require land as tenants or otherwise they can only have the same with the approval of plaintiff (Chief Dore Numa) which cannot be unreasonably refused and only the plaintiff or someone authorized by him can receive rents or tribute for any land… When rent is received by the plaintiff from such strangers it must be shared equitably with any people who have been deprived of their occupation in whole or in part by reason of the grant to the strangers.


This statement shows that custom permitted the Olu of Warri to take land from an indigene and grant to a stranger. It would therefore appear a fortiori that he was permitted to take land from one stranger to grant to another.”


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 𝟏𝟎:


IN THE SUPREME COURT SUIT SC.328/1972 between Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees and Warri Divisional Planning Authority reported at page 235 of 1973 11 S.C.


The Supreme Court giving judgement in favor of the Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees observed at page 244 as follows :-


“In his judgement, the learned trial Judge had no difficulty whatsoever in resolving those conflicts, after a review of the evidence as a whole he held:


(1)  That the piece or parcel of land containing 393.49 acres required by the applicants, that is to say, the land in dispute, is part of the area of land which was the subject matter of Suit No. 25 of 1926 – Ometan vs Dore Numa – and that the legal estate and all rights of titular ownership in and over land in WARRI DIVISION including the land in dispute, formerly vested in and exercisable by the Olu of Warri on behalf of the Itsekiri Community are now vested in and exercisable by the first claimants (Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees) also on behalf of the Itsekiri Community.”


𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐄 𝟏𝟏:


The Supreme Court presided over by Udo-Udoma, Sowewimo and Ibekwe S.C.JJ. in Suits Nos. SC. 67/1971 and SC. 327/1972


Chief Sam. Warri Esi (for himself and on behalf of Igbudu people)


Versus


The Chief Secretary to the Federation of Nigeria & Ors,


Reported at pages 189 – 234 (1973) 11 SC.


After reviewing:-


(1)  The judgement Of Obaseki J. in the said suits in the lower court;


(2)  The judgement of Webber, J. and the judgement of the Privy Council in Suit No. 25/1926 – Ometan versus Dore;


(3) Judgement of Jackson, Asst. Judge in Suit No. W/44/1941 and


(4) The judgement of Ademola, Ag. Judge in Suit W/3/1949, said at Page 214 line 9 and Page 215 line 2 as follows:


“In view of these unimpeachable recurring findings by the Courts of Competent jurisdiction, there can be no question that the Agbassa, including the Igbudu, are customary tenants of the first claimants (that is the Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees). Their tenure of the land occupied by them is therefore subject to the incident of customary tenancy. It is foolhardy on the part of the second claimants (that is, Chief Sam-Warri Essi for himself and on behalf of the Igbudu people) in the face of such overwhelming evidence and the findings of successive courts throughout the years to seek from time to time as soon as there is notice of acquisition and the prospects of a windfall like manna from heaven to re-litigate issues which have been clearly determined and laid to rest against them by persisting in the groundless assertion that the people of Agbassa are the absolute owners of the land in dispute which has been conclusively established as forming the land the subject matter of suit No. 25 of 1926″ (Italics by us).


Only one case was won by urhobo’s in Warri. It is a farmland 218.1 arcs of land. This case has nothing to do with agbassa urhobo’s in Warri.


The Itsekiri won both possessory and radical ownership to almost all the lands in Warri – except the Okumagba avenue, where Okumagba won the possessory right, while the radical title still resides with the Olu. SC/309/74 was won by the Okumagba family against the Itsekiri. But it is clear that they won only a possessory title – hear the Supreme Court..


“The averments in the Plaintiff amended statement of claim was based on traditional evidence and partly on acts of ownership. The averments of the defendants’ statement of defense and evidence give a completely different version of the traditional evidence. The defendants also testified as to their acts of ownership of land in dispute. It must be pointed out at this stage that the defendants are not counter claim for title to land (SC 309/74). Emphasis for clarity! 


Since Okumagba did not counter claim to title, it means the title to the land still remains with the Olu, while the Okumagba family had only the possessory title. All the other cases within Warri –W/44/1941, W3/1949; W/44/1941; SC 93/98 and so many others gave both possessory and radical title to the Olu of Warri. 


Thus, from the legions of litigation, only the Itsekiri had both radial and possessory ownership to all the lands in the Warri minus Okumagba layout, where Olu has the radical title, but the Urhobo enclave in Okere had the possessry rights.


It is important to note that Agbassa leaders have previously sworn under oath that they live on Itsekiri lands. Testimonies from various Agbassa chiefs in court cases reveal that Agbassa village is part of Bomali (Ubomale), and they come from Agbassa Otor. They acknowledged that the Jekris (Itsekiri people) came to the area first and that they render service to the Olu, the traditional ruler of the Warri kingdom. It is clear from these testimonies that Agbassa is a customary tenant under the Olu of Warri, and they have no ownership rights over the land.


Evidence of testimony:


IKPURI sworn : l live at Ijeba where l was born .l am sobo . A native of Agbassa. I succeeded Ogegede …l am the Olotu(head war man ) . Agbassa village is Bomali. We come from Agbassa Otor . Jekris came here first . All this is jekris land. We render service to Olu , we cut grass and clear ground when jekris chief died. We are servant of the Olu. Ogbe Ijoh does not belong to Agbassa. Alder and Wilkie belong to jekris. Fugbe and odion belong jekris. ( suit 25/1926)


Another sobo chief testifying in the Supreme Court suit No. SC 328/1972. Chief Jackson. E.Etsaghara testified ; 

   

I was told by my elders , including chief Sam warri Essi that in the Olden days our ancestors used to pay homage to the Olu of Warri for the permission granted to settle on the land. This was not in my time. If compensation for the  land acquired is paid to us , one third of the amount goes to the Olu and two -third of the amount goes to the whole Agbassa community, not one man . The Olu of Warri by tradition is entitled to one -third of the amount of compensation paid . It is not out of mere kindness that we gave him one -third . This is in accordance with the native law and custom of the itsekiri and Urhobo in Warri division. 


Another Agbassa leader , chief Agaga Agbaisi admitted in the same suit : 


Olu is the overlord of Agbassa land. When we get compensation for this land acquired , we still share it and the itsekiri communal land trustees one - third. It has been decided that the share should be in the ration of one -third to the Olu or itsekiri communal land trustees, two -third  to the Agbassa people.


These are the main facts from all the cases.


πŒπ”π’π“ πŠππŽπ–π 𝐅𝐀𝐂𝐓𝐒 π€ππŽπ”π“ πˆπ“π’π„πŠπˆπ‘πˆ 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐀𝐆𝐁𝐀𝐒𝐒𝐀 𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐃. 


(1) The Olu Of Warri is the Overlord of the three Warri local government areas. 


(2) Okere an Itsekiri community in Warri have six quarters (Idimi) Idimi Odekporo, Idimi Jakpa, Idimi Odeile, Idimi Ogunobite, Idimi Ajamimogha and Idimi Sobo. Idimi Sobo is the smallest and the part that now have an urhobo kingdom. 


(3) Agbassa settlement in Warri are Ejeba, Oteghele, Ogunu, Ekurede Urhobo, Igbudu and Ikpokiti.  


(4) The Agbassa people are customary tenant to the Olu of Warri. Agbassa land is under the overlordship of the Olu of Warri. See Suit No. W/41/57, Suit No. W/121/57, Suits No. W/44/1941 and Suit No. W/3/1949 


(5) Parliament DID NOT AT ANY TIME nullified the Supreme Court case against Agbassa. 

Or made the Ovie of Agbassa overlordship over Agbassa land. The Olu remain the overlordship over Agbassa land. See Suit No. W/41/57


(6) The court could DENY the Agbassa people the right of occupying the land they are in under native law and custom if they FAIL TO RECOGNISE THE OVERLORDSHIP OF THE OLU OF WARRI.  See suit No. W/44/1941, The Supreme Court in SC67/1971 & SC327/1972.


(7) Agbassa land case is no longer on trial. It has been decided by the Nigeria Supreme Court and the British Privy council as property of the Itsekiri. THESE JUDGMENT ARE FINAL. - Ometa vs Chief Dore Numa 1934 11 N. L. R. 18, The Supreme Court in SC67/1971 & SC327/1972. 


(8) It was Ometa(Agbassa man) that appealed the Agbassa land case that they lost in the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Privy Council in London where he also lost as the case was dismissed in favour of the Itsekiri. See Ometa vs Chief Dore Numa 1934 11 N. L. R. 18. 


(9) It was Judge Jackson who decided the Sapele land case in favour of Okpe-Urhobo in 1941 that decided the Agbassa Warri case in favour of Itsekiri. (1) Warri A Focus on Itsekiri  page XXIII and suit No. W/44/1941


(10) Kingship is not what decides ownership of land. Any group of people in Nigeria are allowed to form any kind of association including calling someone their king. This is why there are Igbo and Hausa/Fulani king in different part of the country. This does not mean they own the land they are on. This applied also to the Agbassa people of Warri, they are and will remain customary tenants under the Olu of Warri forever. 


(11) Changing of the name of an area does not change the tittle and ownership of the land. A customary tenant will remain one forever. 


(12) The Supreme Court in SC67/1971 & SC327/1972 (consolidated) pp 189-234 (1973) 11SC in 1973 after reviewing the judgemant of Obaseki in the lower courts; the judgement of Webber, and the judgement of the Privy Council in Ometan versus Dore; the judgement of Jackson in 1941 and the judgement of Ademola said:


"In view of these unimpeachable recurring findings by the Courts of competent jurisdiction, there can be no question that the Agbassa, including the Igbudu are customary tenants of the first claimants (that is, the Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees). Their tenure of the land occupied by them is therefore subject to the incident of customary tenancy. It is fool-hardy on the part of the second claimants (that is, Chief Sam Warri Essi for himself and on behalf of the Igbudu people) in the face of such overwhelming evidence and findings of successive courts throughout the years to seek from time to time as soon as there is notice of acquisition and the prospects of a windfall like manna from heaven to relitigate issues which have been clearly determined and laid to rest against them by persisting in the groundless assertion that the people of Agbassa are the absolute owners of the land in dispute which has been conclusively established as forming the land the subject matter of suit No. 25 of 1926".


(13) In the Supreme Court judgement: (SC328/1972 pp 235-287 (1973) 11 SC ) in 1973, it was said: 


"We have already observed that the first claimants (Itsekiri) are not mere reversioners. They are in fact and in law the legal owners of the land in the occupation of the Agbassa Community, who occupy the same subject to the usual incidents of customary tenancy, such as being of good behaviour and not attempting to alienate any interest therein to strangers without the knowledge and authority of their overlord. Any infraction of such incidents would immediately expose the offender to the full rigours of forfeiture which may be granted in a proper case. Instances are not wanting in the law reports of forfeiture having been decreed in certain circumstances... We are satisfied that the approach of the learned trial judge to the issue under consideration was correct and that his decision is unimpeachable. It is right".


(14) According to Justice Uwaifo in Chief Augustus Osioh v. Anthony Idesoh (Suit No. W/101/73); a case between two Urhobos:


"There can be no doubt that the question of who are the owners of Agbassa, that is, all the villages including Igbudu, has been finally pronounced upon. It has always belonged to The Itsekiri People under the overlordship of the Olu of Warri and until recently, his successors-in-title. They (the Itsekiri) have always been overlords and the people of Agbassa have always been tenants. Any other person living in Igbudu or any part of Agbassa except an Itsekiri is a tenant.


The celebration of Agbassa juju may be an event cherished by Agbassa people but in my judgment it has no part to play in the ownership of Agbassa. The evidence of the mat from each village being taken to Otovwodo (Otoghodo), as given on behalf of the defendants who added that after the ceremonies and sacrifices at Otovwodo the respective mats are returned to each village on mentioning the founding father of that village, if indeed all these take place, is a complete hoax. It cannot be otherwise in view of the legal status of all Agbassa land to the Itsekiris. The ceremonies must have been contrived, only God knows when to make an assertion contrary to the true ownership of Agbassa land. In my view, centuries from now on those juju ceremonies and the performance of the mat ritual or hocus-pocus can never change their status quo..."


(15) Point 1-14 above can not be proved wrong by anyone. They are indisputably facts. Whoever thinks any of the above is wrong they should add reference that can be verified in their comment just as I added to the points.


If they want to make noise we would remind them their status quo, if they like let them rant from today till Jesus comes their status in Warri can’t be changed.


State gazette Agbassa Dukedom (it is legally a dukedom because it is inside another kingdom who legally owns the land it is on)


Having a kingdom doesn’t mean you own a land that you kingdom is on, Or that you have a kingdom doesn’t mean that the Supreme Court judgement is now invalid. 


Since those self proclaimed graduates don’t know the difference between state gazette and Supreme Court judgements. Let me teach them. 


a governor state gazette cannot override a Supreme Court judgment in Nigeria. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is the highest court in the country and has the final authority on matters of constitutional interpretation and the law. The Constitution provides for a separation of powers, and the Supreme Court exercises its powers independently. Its judgments are binding and cannot be overridden by a governor state gazette or any other lower court or administrative body.


If a governor gazettes a king to rule over a portion of land that has been declared by the Supreme Court to be owned by another king, the Supreme Court's judgment would still hold. The governor's gazette would not supersede the Supreme Court's decision.


It is important to note that the Supreme Court's judgments are based on the interpretation and application of the law, and they are final unless there are exceptional circumstances that warrant a review or reversal of the judgment However, such reviews or reversals are rare and require a separate legal process.


So the urhobo’s of Warri south should know that even with their state created kingdom you are still in itsekiri lands. And your kingdom can be dismantled or forced under a dukedom by the Supreme Court. 


As far as there is still law and order in this country itsekiri are the sole owners of 99% of all lands in Warri South LGA.

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