Ijaw Leaders Condemn Killings in Bayelsa, Rivers


Women seek postponement of elections in Nembe

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Ijaw leaders have condemned what they described as the “senseless killings” in Ijaw-populated communities of Rivers and Bayelsa State during the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Addressing a press conference in Yenagoa, the interim Spokesman of Embasara Foundation, umbrella body of the leaders, Chief Ayakeme Whisky, warned that unless the presidential order “to shoot ballot box snatchers” is retracted, there might be more election related killings in Ijawland.

“We wish to express our utter consternation and angst over the senseless killings, an action that has put the sleepy Abonnema community in Akuku Toru LGA of Rivers State in particular and other Ijaw towns (especially Oweikorogha town in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa on edge.

“We have it on good authority that the primary cause of this ugly episode was the reckless infiltration of Abonnema community with political thugs, aided by the military to gain advantage during the presidential elections of February 23, 2019.

“The aftermath of that thoughtless act was the killing of innocent Ijaw boys, some of whom took laws into their hands to engage the military in armed confrontation that led to the death of an army lieutenant. The soldiers then went on a reckless rampage and killed scores of Ijaw youths in retaliation. This is incomprehensible and totally condemnable” the group said.

It added: “As responsible people, we unequivocally condemn the act of killing agents of government who were merely discharging their legitimate duty. This unfortunate and callous act has now brought untold apprehension, tension and unease to innocent women, children and men of Abonnema community.

“We also condemn the recourse to killings of innocent people that are ordinarily presumed sacred in the name of politics and elections.

“We are gravely appalled at the unrestricted importation and stockpile of arms in Ijaw communities. No individual’s ambition is ever worth the blood of anybody.

“Except there is an urgent intervention by the Federal Government headed by President Buhari and retraction of the presidential order “to shoot ballot box snatchers,” we cannot guarantee that there would not be more election related killings in Ijawland.

“As we speak, nobody can predict the scale of extra-judicial killings the Ijawland could witness in the name of chasing political thugs if President Buhari doesn’t act swiftly. Ijawland cannot and shall not accept further bloodletting and killings.”

Meanwhile, women in Opu Nembe in Nembe Bassambiri have cried out to President Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission to suspend the forthcoming election in the troubled community.

Spokesperson of the Women, Mrs. Sotonye Samuel-Johnson, said in a statement that the call to postpone the election in the violence ridden community was necessary to safeguard the lives and properties of women and children in the area.

Samuel-Johnson said that women and children who fled the community to nearby Ogbolomabiri and Yenagoa have not been able to return to their community because of the violence being perpetrated by thugs backed by the Army allegedly led by Major A. Modibbo Commander of JTF in Nembe.

She urged the President to direct urgent investigations to the activities of the thugs and their Army collaborators which according to her had assumed a frightening dimension.

She stressed that it had become clearly unsafe for the women folks and their children to return to Nembe Bassambiri during the tensed election period.