Ijaw Youths Decry Military ‘Invasion’ of Bayelsa Towns


•Vow to Fish Out Soldier’s Killers
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide on Monday raised the alarm over an alleged invasion of communities in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State by soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF).

THISDAY learnt that the heavy deployment of the military in the communities, including Letugbene, Milabiri 1 and 2, as well as Ndoro Rivers, followed the killing of a soldier at an army checkpoint in adjoining Ogbogbagene in Delta State a few days ago.

The attack which took place at about 2a.m., also led to the shooting of a civil defence operative and the carting away of a General Purpose Machine Gun belonging to the army, leading to the invasion of the towns by four military gunboats.

The newly-elected Chairman of IYC, Central Zone, Mr Tare Porri, told journalists in Yenagoa that many of the women and children affected by the action of the military are now residing in the bushes.
Describing the attack on the military as unacceptable, Porri, a lawyer, stressed that molesting the women and children in the communities was equally condemnable.

“We condemn the act (soldier’s murder) in its entirety, but the military should not also take the laws into their hands by invading the communities. As we are talking, the five communities have been invaded. This will call for serious crisis.

“While we condemn the action of those who perpetrated this evil, we are also against the action or inaction of the Nigerian military molesting women and children.

“As I speak with you, most of the communities have been sacked by soldiers, some of them are in the bush and some of them have moved out of the communities,” he said.
The youth leader who was flanked by other executive members of the IYC, called for the intervention of the Chief of Army Staff before the crisis would escalate.

“The idea of continued invasion is unacceptable to the Ijaw nation and we appeal to the Chief of Army Staff to intervene because the moment it gets beyond this level, we cannot guarantee the needed peace in this country.
“The Ijaw people are not weak, we are law-abiding. We will support the military to fish out those bad eggs, but this is not the best approach. Investigate and bring the perpetrators to book, not going from community to community to intimidate our people.

“It is not those women who carried out the attack. Businesses have been shut down. The entire routes have been shut down. OPDS commander should call his men to order. We are under military siege,” Porri said.
Efforts to get the reaction of the military were not immediately fruitful as the JTF spokesman in the region, Major Abubakar Abdullahi, did not respond to phone calls.