Ijaw Youths Demand Release of Persons Detained over N’Delta Crisis

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By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide yesterday, demanded the immediate release of Niger Delta youths still held in detention cells all over the country for allegedly taking part in militancy in the region.

President of the group, Mr. Eric Omare, in a statement in Yenagoa, argued that their continued incarceration in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) without trial, amounts to a breach of the Niger Delta peace process.

The group listed some of those still in custody over suspicion of aiding militancy in the region as Sely Torugbedi, Daniel Ezekiel, Alex Odogu, IYC Abuja spokesman and Jones Abiri, a Bayelsa-based journalist among those being “unjustly” held by the federal government.

It maintained that even in cases where the detained persons have sought, the intervention of the courts for their release, the government has bluntly declined to obey the orders of court.

“Recall that during the fact-finding and confidence building tour of the Niger Delta region by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the people of the Niger Delta made a case for the release of those in detention in relation to the renewed militancy in the region.

“Government promised to look into the case and indeed released some Niger Delta ex-agitators that were in detention. However, the DSS has continued to detain some other Niger Deltans and in some cases even when there is a court order directing that they be released,” the group alleged.

It particularly deplored the case of ex-militant leader,  Torugbedi (alias Young Shall Grow), stressing that a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by the Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had on August 5, 2016 made an order for his immediate release.

“However, almost a year after the order was made, the DSS is still holding Torugbedi in custody despite the fact that they were represented in court by a legal practitioner, O. J. Odu.

 “The DSS has extended same treatment to Ijaw activist, Mr. Daniel Ezekiel where they have bluntly refused to attend court at the Federal High Court, Warri despite several hearing notices served on them at the DSS headquarters in Abuja,” the IYC said.

While disclosing that all those detained have spent over a year without trial or release, the IYC stated that the conduct of the DSS amounted to a breach of the Niger Delta peace process.

 IYC added: “These persons were all arrested in connection with the Niger Delta agitations and since government has decided to adopt a negotiated settlement of the Niger Delta agitation, these persons ought to be released as part of the peace process.

“It even amounts to a breach of trust for government to promise peaceful dialogue while at the same time unnecessarily keeping people in detention.

“The leaders of the Niger Delta region have done their part by restoring relative peace in the region and now it is up to the federal government to sustain it.”

The umbrella Ijaw group for all Ijaw youths urged the government to urgently effect their freedom, noting that the acting President must fulfil his pledge.

“Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo should note that his reputation is on trial in the face of these violations of human rights as a law professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Nigerians and the international community are watching,” the group concluded.