Friday, 24 August 2018

Okuta Kingdom in Kwara State, another Bakasi in the making?

Standing with His Royal Highness Alhaji (Hon) Dr. Idris Sero Abubakar, Kperogi-Afon Serobetete III,
the Emir of Okuta and head of Okuta Emirate Council

In Okuta kingdom in Kwara state, Nigeria, the people are having a lot of problem with the neighboring Republic of Benin, on land dispute and this may be attributed to the challenges facing the National Boundary Commission.

This development is against the boundary delimitation of 1914 between Britain and France which the two countries had respected before now. I pray this should not become a replay of the BAKASI case. Most of the land seized forcefully by the Benin people have Okuta indigenes living in them.    

Standing with  the Emir of Okuta and  Okuta Emirate Council Chiefs

As I was told that in 2007, there was a joint excises between the Nigerian National Boundary Commission, the Republic of Benin counterpart, Kwara State Boundary Commission staff and the border town, Baruten Local Government Area representative,  pillars were erected as permanent marks for the borders, the pillars were erected from Yambou in Kwara to Babana in Niger State. It was in two phases, 2007 and 2009, the first set of pillars were erected waiting for the second intermediate pillars which was to reduce the gap between the first pillars, then there will be a bush clearance to let those crossing the pillars to know when they are at the border and out of their own country.

Okuta kingdom from on top of a mountain 

The Nigerian government and the Republic of Benin were to meet on February 16th 2018 to resolve the crises and to embark on the intermediate pillars and bush clearance but it never took place. On February 21st there was an attack by the Beninoise on the officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service and one of the Beninoise was shot, report have it that the Paramount ruler of Okuta kingdom sent his medical doctor to go and treat the young man that was shot, unfortunately the doctor was taken away by the Beninoise to Benin Republic and has been held captive since then.         

Standing by one of the secondary schools in OKUTA the BGS

Before now, in 2015, Benin Republic invaded 16 villages in Okuta, raising fear and tension in the affected communities. The Beninoise are so determined to annex the Nigerian villages, that they once hoisted their country flag in them. Though the people of Yakparu in Okuta kingdom dismantled the Beninoise flag hoisted in the villages, and the flag is currently in the custody of the emirate council in the town.

an old fence during the colonial masters days in Okuta to prevent the
Dahomey people now Benin Republic access 

The affected villages include Ogomne, Bwin, Gandasunon, Kpuru and Woru Wuren Kparu, Ajuba1, Ajuba 2, Saka Yeruman Kparu, Monta, Dotin Kparu, Halidun Kparu, Yakubun Kparu, Sonsi, Gunosani, Alhaji Kparu, Yodo Mankparu and Simen Kparu.

walking through the bushes to get to the border town of Dahomey
 to enable me shoot my photos

During my visit, from a distance I was shown offices constructed by the authorities of Benin Republic for their gendarmerie (Police station). 

at the border of Nigeria (Okuta) and Benin Republic 

I am appealing to the Kwara State and Federal Government of Nigeria to come to the aid of the people of Okuta villages as residents now live in fear of possible attack. Let us not have a replay of Bakasi community in Okuta kingdom

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