Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Kinsmen of former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, have raised the alarm that communities under Gbaramatu Kingdom were being held under military siege.
Gbaramatu Kingdom is one of the Ijaw kingdoms in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. Tompolo hails from the area.
They expressed fears that their communities could be under attack in no distant time if urgent steps were not taken by the federal government to immediately nip the planned attack on the kingdom in the bud.
According to a statement signed by the Spokesman (Fiyewei) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama yesterday, the community said the alleged siege on the people of the area by the military was both on water and on air.
The statement issued on behalf of the Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs stressed that they did not want a repeat of the 2009, 2016 and 2018 alleged invasion of their communities by the military.
“The Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs has noticed the renewed siege, harassment and intimidation of communities and people of Gbaramatu Kingdom by the Nigerian Military through water and air.
“It could be recalled that Gbaramatu kingdom which is along the Escravos River in Warri South West LGA of Delta received similar action from the Nigerian Military in 2016 to 2018.
“Since then the people have been living in fear of possible military invasion like the one of May 2009, when the military overrun a number of communities in Gbaramatu kingdom claiming hundreds of lives and the destruction of property worth billions of Nigeria”, it added.
The statement described the alleged renewed siege on the kingdom as a tactic to cause fresh crisis in the now peaceful Niger Delta region adding, “Our fear is that the military is trying to repeat same act to the peace loving people of Gbaramatu kingdom if urgent steps are not taken by the Federal Government to call the military to order.
While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently investigate the activities of the military in the Niger Delta region, the Gbaramaru people urged the military to confine themselves to rules of engagement rather than harass and molest innocent indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom.
“There is an urgent need for Mr. President to investigate the activities of the military in the Niger Delta region as the military is not within the confines of the rules of engagement and this may lead to breakdown of law and order in the region as it is happening in Gbaramatu kingdom”, they added.
Contacted for reaction, the spokesperson of the Joint Task Force (JTF) codenamed Operation Delta Safe (ODS), Major. Jonah Eromosele said he had not been briefed of such development but, however, promised to investigate the allegation to enable him speak authoritatively on it.