The controversial memo to the National Assembly by the Attorney General of the Federation, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), on the contentious name and ownership of the site of the Nigerian Maritime University, has received the backing of a former Delta State Attorney General, Charles Ajuwah (SAN)
Ajuwah told journalists in Warri on Friday that the correct location of the proposed university is Okerenghigho, and not Okerenkoko as being wrongly posited by their Ijaw neighbours in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
He explained that the minister’s memo was only meant to set the records straight and to help the leadership of the National Assembly to follow the Supreme Court judgment, which affirmed the Itsekiri ownership of the land where the school is being built.
He urged the National Assembly to heed the advice of the AGF as the chief law officer of the federation in the passage of the bill establishing the specialised university.
Ajuyah, an Itsekiri, said, “Having noted the Attorney-General’s memo on the true name of the town where the maritime university is situated, I must say that in my honest opinion that the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation is perfectly right.”
He noted that none of those criticising the AGF had been able to demonstrate or show that the case of Uluba v. Sillo decided in 1973 and reported in the 1973 All NLR page 47 does not exist.
He posited further that the National Assembly could wish away the rights of the people of Omadino, adding that by sending the memo, the AGF did not re-write the judgment of the Supreme Court but interpreted it for application by the National Assembly.
Ajuyah said the area where the Marine University is situated and its adjourning lands was a subject of litigations between the people of Itsekiri people in Omadino and the Ijaws Kokodia, Okerenghigho and other surrounding villages between 1949 to 1962.
He stated, “Judgements were given in favour of the Omadino people. The last of the cases was in Sillo v. James Uluba. The Omadino people sued for possession and injunction. Judgment was delivered on 3 October, 1969.
“The trial judge found that the evidence of the Itsekiri people that they founded the land Okerenghigho was most credible. The judge also found that the Ijaws, who were challenging the title of the Itsekiris settled on the land with the permission of the Omadino people.
“In coming to that decision, the court reaffirmed the title granted to Omadino people in the 1951 case.”