Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and a retired Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ebitibituwa Tonye, have condemned what they described as military invasion and occupation of Ajapa town in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Â The President of the IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, in a chat with journalists yesterday, warned of imminent humanitarian crisis if urgent steps are not taken to stop the military siege over the town.
Â According to Omare, several vulnerable people especially â€œwomen, children and the aged from the besieged town are trapped in the creeks of Ajapa following the invasion of the community by soldiers from Operation Restore Hope last week.â€
He noted that the dire situation arose after the commendable efforts of the soldiers who gunned down a notorious criminal, Ossy Ibori, and his gang members accused of masterminding various killings, kidnaping and other related crimes in Lagos and Ogun State riverine communities.
Â Things, he recalled, went ugly when Ibori and 15 other criminals were killed in a gun duel with the army, which lost a captain and some soldiers.
Â Enraged, he said, the soldiers allegedly â€œburnt down several houses in the community which made the frightened residents to flee into the adjoining bushes and have been trapped since the day of the operation.â€
Speaking further, Omare urged the government to intervene to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the area.
The IYC leader called for a â€œguided media tour of the area with the military, representatives of the state and federal governments as well as human rights groups to ascertain the true situation of things in the area.â€
Â According to him, â€œGuided media tour of the area is the only way to let Nigerians know the pathetic story of Ajapa in the creeks.â€
He also called on â€œthe government to pull out the soldiers from the embattled community so that those trapped in the bushes could be allowed to come out.â€
Â In the same vein, Ebitibituwa who was a former Police Commissioner in Enugu, Kebbi and Bayelsa State, said majority of the people now are trapped in the bush are in urgent need of food and medication.
He expressed regret that the Ondo State Government has not deemed it necessary to come to the aide ofÂ thousands of innocent people affected by the ongoing military operation in the community, which is in its 10th day.
He said: â€œThe whole residents are in the bush. Our concern is that the state government has not taken this issue. The government has not done anything to assure the people that help is coming.
Â â€œThere is no relief material; there is no effort at rehabilitation. We have spoken to government on those issues. And there is no way we can go to the town.â€
The former CP noted that a meeting between the leaders and the representatives of community with the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, and the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, had not resulted in the expected respite.