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Group appeals to FG over arrest, harassment of Ijaw youths 

By Victor Otigbu

WARRI—THE Iwere Peace Movement, a socio-cultural organization in the Niger Delta, has appealed to the Federal Government to halt the continued arrest and harassment of Ijaw youths in the Niger Delta, particularly in Warri. It argued that the action is creating tension in the region.

BOMBED—Major Gen. Alani Okunola, Commander of the Joint Task Force (Middle); pointing to part of a severed pipeline, while Brig. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, Commander, 4 Brigade, Benin (2nd left); Lt. Col. Igwe P. Omoke, Commanding Officer, 3 Battalion Effurun (2nd right)and others watch during inspection of the gas pipeline in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State bombed by suspected militants. Inset: Other damaged areas. Photos: Akpokona Omafuaire.

Also the Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group faulted the allegation that a former ex-militant leader was behind the bombing of the oil pipelines and abduction of journalists in the creeks last year. The group claimed there was a calculated attempt by some PDP members who defected to APC in the area to destroy the Ijaws.

However, the Iwere Peace Movement in a statement signed by Mr Merie Oritsejolomi and Johnbull Deghelli Omadeli, charged security agents to go after those behind the destruction of the oil pipelines and not innocent Ijaw youths being arrested and humiliated by security agents.

According to the statement, “we have observed with pains the arrest of several innocent Ijaw youths by security agencies since the destruction of some oil pipelines by unknown persons.

“In as much as we support the efforts of the military in going after the perpetrators, we appeal strongly that this incessant arrest of Ijaw youths under the guise of searching for the perpetrators of the pipeline destruction must stop.”

“We are all Nigerians and no Nigerian must be treated as an animal or a visitor in his own land. It is sad watching Ijaw youths being arrested on a daily basis living their families in pain because of issues they know nothing about. This is not the best way of resolving the current tension in the region rather it may escalate it because when people feel betrayed by a nation that is supposed to protect them they can seek alternative means to survive.

“So we are strongly appealing to the Federal Government to apply diplomacy because when you intimidate people, nobody will want to help you in the investigation. Ijaw youths must not be seen as the problem of this nation. Those behind the destruction of the pipelines should be apprehended while innocent Ijaw youths in detention should be allowed to re-join their families so as to douse the tension in the region” it stated.

The Iwere Peace Movement added that “with this allegation from the Itsekiri group,it is obvious that the Itsekiri former PDP member who defected to the APC and the Itsekiris of Ugborodo are the ones that carried out the bombing of the pipelines and accusing Tompolo just to divert attention. The tried woefully to exploit the recent issue between Tompolo and the EFCC to score cheap political point.”

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