- Youths to meet over alleged invasion
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Fresh crisis is brewing in the oil-rich Niger Delta region following thursday nightâ€™s attack on a former President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and ex-Chairman of Patani Local Government Area, Dr Chris Ekiyor.
Ekiyor, a renowned Niger Delta activist, was reportedly attacked around Evwreni, Ughelli North between 6.30p.m. and 6.40p.m , while returning to his home in Patani by suspected herders who shot at his Prado SUV several times, blowing up his two front tyres and damaging a portion of the vehicle.
He told journalists in his Patani home thursday that he was convinced that his attackers were Fulani herdsmen and called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to see the menace from the point of view of party politics.
The respected Niger Delta leader said a car following closely behind him was hit by the bullets from the guns used by his attackers, which unfortunately hit a corps member on his hand and leg before he was rushed to the hospital.
Ekiyor, who also received solidarity visits from youth leaders from the region, argued that if it was a case of robbery, the hoodlums would have stolen from their victims, adding that after the attack, the herdsmen ran back into the bush.
â€œLet me tell you what I know. I have lived in the north, south, west, east of Nigeria. I have friends all over Nigeria. I am the convener of Integration Summit Group and I have representatives in all 774 local governments, which means I have Fulani friends.
â€œI have said that I grew up in small shanties in the North in Niger State. The people I see shooting today are not the kind of Fulani I knew. But those who shot at me yesterday, I know their physiognomy. I know them.
â€œThey showed up in a manner akin to the Fulani people. They had Fulani dresses, Fulani hats, Fulani trousers, they just walked out of the bush and started shooting,â€ the activist said.
He noted that the menace had started threatening the very existence of the country, insisting that the men he saw did not act like they were ordinary armed robbers. He said the policemen in a nearby checkpoint took off when they heard the gunshots, stressing that a senior officer in charge of the area said there was no vehicle to move personnel to the area.
â€œIt was a straight stretch of the road, they did not put any barricade on the road, they didnâ€™t rob anybody. After shooting, they ran back into the bush. The community has confirmed that there are armed Fulani people around there and I asked them â€˜what are youths doingâ€™ because very soon, they will run you out of town. They are either Fulani herdsmen or militias.
â€œToday, the people who shoot and kill on Kaduna express to Abuja, are herdsmen, in Maiduguri they have been known to be herdsmen, those in Ogun are herdsmen, in Ondo the same thing, even those who kidnapped and killed a man in Ogwashi-Uku were known to be herdsmen.
â€œI saw them. They started shooting just as I was arriving . I saw two, the car behind me said they saw five, plus one on the other side of the road. Whether they were robbers or not, I have seen robbers on this road before, in fact, we have repelled them even as IYC president. But by their dress code and mannerism, these were Hausa Fulani people,â€ he maintained.
Meanwhile, Ijaw youths who visited Ekiyor, a Dental Surgeon and founder of RAHI Medical Outreach, said they would meet in the next few days to map out their next line of action.
IYC President, Roland Owelaemi who led the youths said: â€œThis is unfortunate because we are very peaceful people. This person is a former president of IYC. This is an attack on the ijaw nation. If they can attack a former Ijaw IYC President, then we can say that this is a handshake that is gradually going beyond the elbow.
â€œThe Ijaw nation will not sit back and wait for intruders and terrorists or herdsmen by whatever name, they are criminals and the Ijaw nation will rise up to the occasion and defend ourselves from the cities to the villages.
â€œThe security agencies must move in to unravel whoever is involved because it is an attack on the Ijaw nation. Thank God he is live. In a couple of days, in a short whole, the Ijaw nation will gather and decide the next line of action to take. We are capable of defending ourselves, we have never been defeated,â€ he said.