Pipeline bombing: Go after perpetrators only, Bayelsa elders beg Buhari

By Samuel Oyadongha

Yenagoa—As fear heightened in Ijaw communities over possible military expedition in the wake of the bombings and vandalisation of oil pipelines in Delta State by suspected militants, Ijaw elders, under the aegis of Bayelsa Elders Council, BEC, have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the security agencies to go only after the perpetrators of the dastardly act with a view to bringing them to justice under the rule of law.

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. File photo

This, according to them, was to prevent security operatives from destroying innocent communities in the process of fishing out the perpetrators.

Similarly, former leaders of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, yesterday, dismissed claims that former militants from the region were responsible for the recent bomb attacks on oil and gas installations in Delta State, insisting that the attacks were carried out by criminals.

Though the ex-MEND leaders noted that the Federal Government had launched a high powered investigation into the incidents to bring the perpetrators to book, they said that the claims against the frontline ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) and other ex-militant leaders were untrue and misplaced.

The ex-militant leaders, under the aegis of the Leadership Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, LPCDI, led by Chief Reuben Wilson, insisted that those behind the attacks were criminal elements, who were out to disrupt the peace in the region and set the Federal Government against the people of the region.

“What happened was not carried out by ex-militants. The world should not label the ex-militants with evil deeds. The attacks were carried out by criminal elements. Some people claim that Tompolo did it but he has come out to clear himself. Tompolo is a man known for his words. If he is involved in such things, he will come out openly to say so and give reasons. But he is not behind these recent attacks,” LPCDI said.

Meanwhile, Bayelsa Elders Council, which met in Yenagoa to review the recent spate of bombings and vandalisation of oil and gas pipelines, called on the perpetrators to desist forthwith in view of inevitable damage it may cause the economy of the states of the region and the nation, especially at a time the country was grappling with falling crude oil price.

The position of the elders is contained in a communique  by Chief Francis Doukpola and Chief Thompson Okorotie, Chairman and Publicity Secretary of BEC.

The elders also called on the Federal Government to observe restraint while making pronouncements on the matter and consult widely with relevant stakeholders when major decisions concerning the amnesty programme are to be taken.

They urged the Federal Government to apply the carrot and stick approach by negotiating with the host communities to bring about sustainable solutions to the problem.

“The council expresses its support for the anti-corruption crusade embarked upon by President Buhari. We are, however, concerned about the way certain persons, including Ijaw, have been handling in the process.

“All Nigerians deserve to be treated decently in preservation of their fundamental human rights under the rule of law,” they noted.

Ijaw elders present at the meeting include HRM Joshua Igbagara, Ibenanaowei of Oyiakiri clan; HRM Jonathan Kubor, Ibenanaowei of Bassan clan, among others.

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