National News

Ijaw groups call on Buhari to address harassment of citizens

…Admonish him to call security agencies to order

By David Owei

Representative groups and leaders of the Ijaw indigenous nationality have written a strongly worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari in which they called on “the Federal Government to urgently address the continuous harassment of its citizens, especially elder statesmen and women that have contributed to the development and well-being of the nation.”

Going further, the petitioners averred that they “are greatly disturbed by the unprovoked invasion and intimidation” of Pa Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, at his residence in Asokoro, Abuja, on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 by men of the Nigerian Police Force, “who were armed with a search warrant authorized by the court.”

They described as an afterthought “the apology from the Police authorities and actions so far taken against four of its operatives that led the invasion.

“The fact that the police team was armed with a search warrant when they invaded the privacy of Chief Clark’s home shows that they were not there on a frolic but with the full knowledge of the authorities. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) and indeed the Federal Government should take full responsibility for the Police action instead of making scapegoats out of the sanctioned operatives.

“We suspect that the action was an attempt to cover up the true intentions of the invasion, which is to pin charges of gunrunning cum harbouring of Niger Delta militants on Pa Clark and stoke violent uprising in the region so that the Federal Government of Nigeria can commence a crackdown to achieve strategic silencing of the clamour for restructuring and true fiscal federalism as militarily as possible.  All these in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.

“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government to demonstrate in clear terms to the nation and the entire world that this arrogant display of power and intimidation will not occur again. This is one persecution too many for Nigerians and the Ijaw Nation in particular.”

Going down memory lane, they recalled that “in 2016, the father of High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (also known as Tompolo) eventually died from the Okerenkoko humiliation/harassment while treating wounds from torture by Nigerian soldiers.

“Also, the home of the aged mother of Hon. Kingsley Kuku in Arogbo, Ondo State, was raided by the security forces earlier this year.  This ongoing onslaught against Ijaw people has to stop before it leads to a conflagration of the already tense situation in the Niger Delta.

“We are mostly shocked by the treatment meted out to the nationalist who spearheaded attempts to resolve the Niger Delta Avengers crisis in 2015/2016 as the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) with whom you met in 2016. Despite the fact that most of the age-old grievances of the Niger Delta have not been resolved by this administration, his effort had ensured that there is peace in the region and sustained production of oil, resulting in increased revenue to the Federal Government.

“Your Excellency, there can be no basis to justify or tolerate this mindless and barbaric assault on not just Pa Clark but any other Nigerian. Ijaw people have been thrown into mass apprehension by this reckless misadventure, especially at this time when killings and brutalization of innocent Nigerians by state and non-state actors have become daily routine, causing thousands of casualties every year by some accounts.

“We wish to state that Ijaw people have become impatient with the continued marginalization, targeting, harassment, provocation and denial of our dues and rights as major stakeholders in this country by the present government.  It is causing disaffection and is capable of degenerating if not checked forthwith.”

In conclusion, they requested the president “to call the police and other security agencies to order and also address the unjust and serious socio-political imbalances in the nation, some of which are highlighted above.”

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