IJAW YOUTHS WARN There‘ll be Consequences Not Probing Izu’s Death

By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide (IYC), warned yesterday that government’s failure to investigate and punish those responsible for the killing of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan footballer, Joseph Izu, would have far-reaching negative consequences in the long run.
Factional leader of the IYC,  Mr Elvis Donkemezuo, said in a statement in Yenagoa that unless the killers of the 3SC’s central defender were promptly arrested and prosecuted, it would send a wrong signal to other youths in the region that their lives do not matter
The group noted that having represented Nigeria internationally in beach soccer competitions, Izu’s death should not be swept under the carpet.
“For the records, until his painful death last Sunday, Joseph Izu was a central defender for Shooting Stars Football Club (3SC) of Ibadan and a prominent and very outstanding beach soccer player who made Nigeria and Africa proud in different international competitions. He is not known to be a lawbreaker of any sort,” the group stressed.
While condemning ‘the growing trend of senseless killing of Ijaw Youths’ by security operatives, the group argued that the primary assignment and responsibility of the military is to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and not to maim the innocent.
It noted that from investigation, there was no case of militancy or vandalism of government infrastructure in Okarki, where the 24-year-old footballer was shot along with some of his friends.
“We demand Justice for the family of Joseph Izu. We want to also put it on record that as of today (we cannot speak for tomorrow), there is no militant camp inside Okarki Community or in Okarki bush.
“There was also no case of kidnapping, disturbance of the peace or unlawful gathering of any kind at Okarki before or on the day and time Joseph was murdered by the soldiers.
“ So we wonder what may have warranted the killing of an innocent, armless and defenceless youth who had done nothing but used his God-given talent to serve his fatherland, save for a lust for blood and  lack of respect for human life on the part of the soldiers”, the group further said.
The Ijaw youths maintained that coming just a few weeks after 17-year-old Innocent Kokorifa was allegedly killed by the police in Bayelsa, the situation was getting unbearable.
“Kokorifa was equally murdered by the Bayelsa Police, through a gang-styled execution in Yenagoa two months ago. Innocent’s autopsy was conducted on Monday and he will be buried within the week”, it noted.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari,  the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, the Inspector General of Police, among others to ensure that those behind this killing and that of other innocent Niger Delta youths do not go unpunished.
“The Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) ,Operation Delta Safe, should live up to its name by ensuring that those who have taken the lives of the Niger Delta youths like Joseph, it was meant to save, do not get away with impunity.
“The failure on the part of the appropriate authorities to act and do so swiftly will lead to consequences that would have far-reaching effect on the interest of the government”, the IYC warned.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Sport Commissioner, Boma Iyaye, said yesterday that the death of Joseph Izu “represents another dark chapter in the history of Nigerian football.”
Iyaye urged the 3SC family to show strength following the sad turn of events while urging security operatives to fish out the killers of Izu. “The death of this vibrant young man, cut short at the prime of his career, represents yet another dark chapter in the history of Nigerian football.
“I have since sent my personal condolences to 3SC and on behalf of the sport fraternity in Rivers State, I also urge the Izu family to be strong in this period of great sadness.
“I am also using this medium to call on security operatives to embark on exhaustive investigations with a view of bringing the killers of the late Izu to book,” he said.
The late player joined 3SC in the 2013/14 season from Bayelsa United and had just completed his third season at the Oluyole Warriors.