• Leaders move to douse tension in Lagos
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, on Thursday warned those who are in the habit of ascribing every negative action in the region and beyond to the Ijaw people, to stop forthwith.
President of the organisation, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, who spoke with journalists in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, noted that the Ijaw youths took special exception to the accusation that people from the area had been attacking Lagos and Ogun States.
He urged security agencies to take their jobs seriously and unveil those behind the recent attacks on communities in the two states, describing them as mere criminals.
“I want to make the Ijaw position very clear. Nigeria should stop ascribing anything negative to the Ijaw people. Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are not Ijaw people. Security agencies should stop transferring their jobs to community leaders. We refuse to eat sand as food,” Eradiri said.
He appealed to Yoruba people not to be taken in by the ”propaganda” currently going on, reminding them of the last Odua People’s Congress OPC-Ijaw crisis which he said was stoked by issues that are inconsequential.
“There are Ijaw people, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo and others in those places those crimes happen. Thy should stop demonising the Ijaw people.
“We have cohabited with the Yoruba people for a long time, but all manner of nonsense is now being ascribed to the Ijaw people. I sympathise with victims of those attacks in Ogun and Lagos, but we want to make it clear that those attackers are not Ijaw.
“They are people who are stealing refined fuel and kerosene. The security agencies should do their jobs. We will not do anything to destabilise Lagos and Ogun States, but the security agencies should fish out those criminals instead of blaming Ijaw people,” he added.
He alleged that the Ijaw people around Lagos were already being attacked because of the misinformation currently going on.
“Just yesterday, property belonging to Ijaw people just outside Lagos were destroyed by some people just because of this propaganda. Herdsmen have been killing, instead of summoning their patrons, nothing has been done, nobody is inviting herdsmen and their patrons, why are there double standards in this country.
“How many Hausa monarchs have been invited or harassed when Boko Haram was still killing people? Why is the military always quick to attack our communities.
“Who said that Gbaramatu is Niger Delta Avengers headquarters. Many can’t even go to school in those communities right now.
“NDA is within government. They are blocking the presidents eyes from seeing them. The same way herdsmen are Libyans, somalians who are good in maritime things are blowing up pipelines.
“I appeal to the Yoruba people. We still remember the Ijaw OPC crisis. If you remember it was one small issue that started it. Let nobody be deceived this time,” the IYC President said.
Also, Ijaw leaders in Lagos have taken steps to douse the apprehension arising from reports of criminal activities linked to alleged militants from the Niger Delta.
Some communities in Lagos and Ogun States have been attacked by either armed robbers, pipeline vandals or kidnappers with accusing fingers pointed at militants.
A Yoruba youth group recently threatened reprisal attack on Ijaw indigenes resident in Lagos and other South-west states.
Since the threat was issued, tension had heightened in areas with high population of the Ijaw and other Niger Delta indigenes.
Former president of the Izon Community Lagos, Mr. Regent Youmor, in a statement yesterday, said the leadership of the Yoruba nation at various levels are being contacted to address the situation in order to douse the tension.
“We are seriously worried about the spate of criminal activities and the colouration it is given in the media. The Izon community in Lagos is not taking the media reports and the feedback we get lightly.
“We are ready to collaborate with our Yoruba brothers and leaders as well as security agencies to ensure that criminals masquerading as militants are fished out and dealt with according to the laws of the land.
“We however frown at a situation where a particular ethnic group appears targeted for negative and biased reportage in the media. We are a peaceful and peace-loving people, who abhor all forms of criminality whether in Lagos or anywhere else,” said Youmor, who is also vice chairman of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state.
He disclosed that a friendly/unity football match to cement the relationship between the Ijaw and their hosts is to hold on Saturday, August 6 in Lagos.