As the military Joint Task Force launches full-scale operations to hunt down members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and halt the destruction of critical oil …

Nigerian Soldiers

Nigerian Soldiers

• NDA denies arrest of members by troops
• Ogbemudia seeks revenue from non-oil resources

As the military Joint Task Force launches full-scale operations to hunt down members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and halt the destruction of critical oil facilities in the Niger Delta, the Ijaw yesterday cried out in anguish, lamenting the takeover of their communities by soldiers who hold residents and monarchs hostage without allowing them access to medical attention and food.

Reacting to the renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta yesterday, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) accused the Federal Government of genocide against the Ijaw, alleging that the navy and army had been shooting endlessly since Monday into their communities unprovoked.

The IYC, through its spokesman, Eric Omare, said a man and his wife were yesterday seriously wounded at Ogbe-Ijoh community as naval officers shot sporadically into the communities throughout the night since Monday.

He said: “We wish to alert the world to the massive military and genocidal attacks against the Ijaw people and communities of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. From Monday, the May 30 to the early hours of today, May, 2016, there have been massive military attacks against innocent Ijaw communities and peoples from Gbaramatu to Ogbe-Ijoh Kingdoms in Delta State, Southern Ijaw, Nembe, Brass and some other local councils of Bayelsa State.

“In Gbaramatu, Delta State the people especially women and children are in serious danger of mass death if they are not rescued from the rampaging military officers. Most people that ran into the bush in Oporoza, Kurutie, Kunukunuma, Kokodiagbene and some other villagers and communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West are yet to be found. This is in addition to the acute condition of hunger arising from the ‘no going in and out’ order placed on Gbaramatu Kingdom by the military.

“Many parents in Gbaramatu do not know the whereabouts of their children and vice versa. In parts of Ogbe-Ijoh, especially the Naifor Island, opposite Warri, the navy throughout the night of May 30 to May 31, shot sporadically into the communities and in the process, a couple Mr. and Mrs. Tiemo were critically wounded. Ironically this couple only recently ran to Naifor Island to escape the military onslaught.

“The villagers in desperation took the critically injured couple to the naval base where they left them for the navy to do whatever they want with the couple. The state of this couple from Ayakoromo Community in Burutu Local Council of Delta State is still unknown at the time of issuing this statement.

“Naifor Island, Ogbe-Ijoh is just opposite the navy barracks and the IYC does not see any justification why the navy would be practising their shooting skills with the lives of the innocent Ijaw villagers.

“The IYC recalls a similar incident a few months ago at the start of the renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta region in the same community. There is no oil facility in Naifor Island, Ogbe-Ijoh and none is close to the community. Therefore, there is no singular justification why the navy has decided to use that particular community as its main target to justify the huge sum of money allocated to them to find the Avengers.

“Why has the navy refused to trace the Avengers to where they are destroying oil facilities instead of killing innocent people and subjecting the entire community to fear? There is now mass movement of people out of the community for fear of attack,” he said.

Omare said the story was not different in most parts of Bayelsa State where war boats and fighter jets have been deployed in different communities and the people are now living in fear, saying that the IYC is not against the military going after the Avengers, but that the innocent Ijaw people and communities should not be made to pay for offences they know nothing about.

“The innocent villagers bear the brunt of the decades of oil exploitation and degradation and when there is a military action against people who have tampered with oil facilities they are the victims as well. This is unacceptable and we condemn this unprofessional military operation and massive attack against Ijaw people.”

According to the IYC, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has a plan to commit genocide against Ijaw people. But he insisted that there is no basis for the massive onslaught against the innocent Ijaw people and communities, saying it has never happened anywhere in the world for innocent people to be held responsible for crimes they know nothing about.

The Ijaw youth body urged the Nigerian people, the United Nations and the entire world to take note of this ongoing killing of innocent Ijaw people and violations of their human rights.

Besides, the NDA which has been claiming responsibility for the recent attack on pipelines has denied the arrest of its members by the Nigerian Army.

On its twitter handle @NDAvengers, the NDA said: “Our attention has been drawn to the arrest of 10 @NDAvengers boys by Nigeria Military. None of our strike team has been arrested. It’s all a lie.”

The group also denied killing soldiers saying, “Nigeria Military also lied that NDA killed soldiers. We haven’t engaged in combat with them but if they want us to kill them let them come after us.”

Meanwhile, former military administrator of old Midwest Region and Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, yesterday said the renewed destruction of oil facilities was a challenge for the Federal Government to look for alternative sources to revenue for Nigeria.

In an interview with The Guardian at his residence, Ogbemudia, who also gave a pass mark to the one year-old administration of Buhari, said there was the need to go back to agriculture which produced the groundnut pyramids in the north, cocoa pyramids in the east, palm oil and rubber in the Midwest and east which he said could not be bombed.

“My personal opinion is that the bombing and destruction of pipelines in the Niger Delta is a challenge to the country to look for alternative sources of funding. If we had paid attention to agriculture as the north is producing groundnuts, the West’s cocoa, the Mid-West’s palm oil and others do the same, nobody can sabotage the pipelines. The pyramids in Kano, you cannot get there to say you want to go and bomb them. The pyramids of cocoa in Ibadan, you cannot go and blow them off. It is because oil is passing through pipelines. Many years ago, when I suggested that all petrol stations should be connected to the pipelines of the refineries, they forced me down. The issue of bombing pipelines would not have arisen. But I suggest that we need to sit down and do more of our home work. We are not doing enough. All developments are preceded by planning and preparation and to plan, you must have information at your hand because of many people you are planning for. To plan, you must know the number of people in your country you are planning for. You must know the daily needs of the people. Then you can plan a refinery that either can refine all the crude or you build a refinery that could produce half of your importation. So, no alternative to having good planning and preparation. So, from what we have seen, Buhari has done well.”

Source:The Guardian NigeriaThe Guardian Nigeria