National News

2009 Gbaramatu Bombardment: Prosecute Sarkin Bello Now, Group Tells FG

Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, FNDIC, has called on the Federal Government to implement disciplinary measure on Brig. Gen. Sarkin Yarki Bello, now retired, whose action it described as excesses during the Gbaramatu bombardment of 2009 by the JTF whom he led.

FNDIC said the call for military discipline and action against Major Gen Bello was informed by one military excesses too many, stressing that this would go a long way in instilling discipline in the military, and redeeming the corporate image of the country.

“The Federal Government to implement disciplinary measure on Brig. Gen Sarkin Yarkin Bello, now retired, over his excesses while he was commander of JTF in the Niger Delta as it relates to the Gbaramatu invasion as a way of instilling discipline in the military for the sake of the good corporate image of Nigeria.

“Our call for military discipline and hence action against Major Gen Bello is informed by one military excesses too many,” it added.

The FNDIC, in collaboration with Gbaramatu Rebirth Initiatives,  GRI, in a statement also called on the Federal Government to initiate rebuilding and rehabilitation of communities destroyed by the Military in the 2009 bombardment of Gbaramatu kingdom, and without delay pay N100bn compensation fees to the over 53 communities affected, as awarded by Federal High Court Asaba judgment of 2013.

The statement jointly signed by President, FNDIC, Chief Bello Oboko and Secretary, GRI, Godswill Wuruyai said rebuilding the communities would give the people a sense of belonging.

While making reference to the Asaba and Odi massacres respectively, in which compensations were paid  by the Federal Government after a court judgment, FNDIC wondered why the Federal Government has refused to compensate the good people of Gbaramatu Kingdom even after a competent court of jurisdiction declared the military invasion illegal, unconstitutional and therefore recommended for compensation.

Said FNDIC, “In the Asaba massacre, professed Nigerians were massacred for the sins of occupying and escaped Biafrans. In the Odi massacre in Bayelsa State, the military were in alleged chase of criminals when a civil community with populace was destroyed and the military action was declared illegal with compensation paid by the FG. In the Gbaramatu genocidal invasion, the Major-Gen Sarkin Yarki Bello-led JTF action was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the FHC Asaba with the judgement debt of N99.9billion yet to be paid by the FG. The foregoing scenario justifies our call for military discipline and calls for FG caution against continuous militarization of Gbaramatu land.”

It would be recalled over 53 communities were bombed by the military in Gbaramatu Kingdom, May 2009 in guise of searching for militants.

To this effect, Chief Nelson Ogelegbanwei and 52 other plaintiffs in June 2009 filed a suit against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and two other defendants, claiming that the action of the JTF violated Section 217(2)(c) of the 1999.

The suit also demanded compensation for the affected communities.

The court case was however won by the plaintiffs December 5th, 2013, when a Federal High Court Asaba, awarded N99.9bn compensation to affected communities,  but up till now, the defendant, which happened to be the Federal Government has not paid a dime.

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