Urhobo Historical Society

A LETTER TO MINISTER OF DEFENCE, NIGERIA, ON THE RENAMING OF
EJOOR MILITARY BARRACKS
EFFURUN, DELTA STATE, NIGERIA



S. S. OBRUCHE
London, United Kingdom



June 25, 2003

Hon. Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
Abuja, Nigeria

 

Dear Honourable Minister of Defence:

RENAMING DAVID EJOOR BARRACKS, EFFURUN, DELTA STATE:
History and Geography Require that the New Name Should Be Effurun Barracks

I am a Nigerian citizen who is currently resident in the United Kingdom. I hail from the Delta State of Nigeria. Please accept my warm congratulations on your deserved appointment as Nigeria’s new Minister of Defence. In these trying times, your responsibilities are awesome. May God guide you to achieve peace in our dear country.

Many of the challenges that you will confront will be those whose resolution was incomplete at the time you assume your new responsibilities. One such pending and incomplete matter concerns the renaming of the David Ejoor Barracks at Effurun. Sadly, it has been misnamed as Warri Barracks. That name insults the history and geography of our region of Nigeria. Although Warri and Effurun have grown into each other in recent years, these are distinct urban realms each with its own history and significance. Warri was founded in the 1890s by the British colonial administration. It subsequently became the colonial headquarters of Warri Province. Effurun is an ancient town that is centuries old, already well established before the British colonized and included it in the Niger Coast Protectorate (1891), in Southern Nigeria (1900), and in Nigeria (1914).

Well up to the 1960s, the two cities of Effurun and Warri were physically separated by miles of bush. It was in the post-Civil war era in which developments have brought them together. Even so, it is clear to the people of the region, to the Delta State Government and, indeed, to the Federal Government of Nigeria that in matters of governance and jurisdictions, Effurun is separate from Warri. Perhaps I should call to your attention the important fact that Effurun hosts two Federal Government institutions: the Ejoor Barracks, whose renaming as Warri Barracks is being disputed in this letter, and Petroleum Training Institute. Both of them bore the proper address of Effurun, and the Petroleum Training Institute still does. Effurun is the headquarters of a distinct jurisdiction of Uvwie Local Government Area. It is also the seat of Ovie (King) of Uvwie Kingdom.

In weighing this matter, it is important that you take into account the history of the name of Warri. In 1952, there was widespread protest and uproar throughout Warri Province when the new Action Group Government of Western Nigeria misappropriated the name of Warri by changing the title of the king of Itsekiri from Olu of Itsekiri to Olu of Warri. Realizing the danger that this mistake threatened, the British Colonial Government changed the name of the Province from Warri Province to Delta Province in order to avoid the improper inference that the Itsekiri king had any authority on peoples and territories that were not Itsekiri. Since then, the Itsekiri have increasingly abandoned their original name of Itsekiri for the coveted name of Warri, despite the fact that the Urhobo and Ijaw indigenes of the City have laid claim to the lands that the British took over in the 1890s and 1900s in order to build the modern town of Warri. It will be noted that there are three Local Government Areas that bear the name Warri to which the Itsekiri lay claim.  Clearly, in the midst of these controversies, it will be most unwise to rename the Ejoor Barracks, Effurun, as Warri Barracks That would give the wrong and false impression that the jurisdiction of Warri extends to Effurun, which has never been the case.

In these circumstances, I urge you to follow the example of two Federal Government institutions in renaming the Ejoor Barracks. These are as follows. First, there is the Delta Steel Company, Aladja-Ovwian. Second, there is the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun. Both of them are located in Local Government Areas that are close to, but separate from, Warri, On the other hand, I urge you not to be swayed by the mistake of the wrongful naming of Refining and Petroleum Chemical Co. Ltd, Ekpan, Warri. Ekpan is in Uvwie. The tolerance of that mistake on the part of the Ekpan people should not lead to a compounding of the problem. We strongly urge that you change the name of the Ejoor Barracks to Effurun Barracks.

In so urging, I assume that the purpose of the policy in renaming the Barracks is to invoke the well-received process of honouring those who are no more with us on this earth, rather than rushing to honour those who are still influential and perhaps powerful. It is certainly the hope of those of us from the Delta State who think very highly of Major General David Ejoor (rtd.) that it is not the intention to humiliate our beloved Major General in this renaming of the Barracks formerly named after him. We would have hoped that he was consulted before the name was changed. After all, he is well aware of the local history to which I have referred here. There is a strong impression among our people that renaming these Barracks as Warri Barracks, instead of Effurun Barracks, amounts to a personal insult to the person of Major General David Ejoor (rtd.). We assume that this was not intended. We therefore urge you to change the name back to Effurun, which was the address of the original name, from Warri Barracks because Warri was not the original address of the Barracks.

I thank you for your attention to this matter. I believe I have given you the facts that will enable you to make the change of the Barracks back to Effurun Barracks. In that way, the good people of Uvwie will find it unnecessary to go to court in order to ensure that their jurisdiction is not given away to another people and another Local Government Area.

 

Yours faithfully,


S. S. Obruche

 

c.c.:

  1. His Excellency the President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
  2. Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.)
  3. Maj. General David Ejoor (rtd.)
  4. Major General A. O. Ogomudia, Chief of Defence Staff
  5. His Excellency James Ibori, Governor of Delta State
  6. His Royal Highness, Ovie of Uvwie
  7. His Royal Highness, Ovie of Udu
  8. Olorogun Senator Felix Ibru
  9. Urhobo Historical Society, PO. Box 1454, Buffalo, NY 14226
  10. Urhobo Social Club, Lagos


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