Published On: Thu, Apr 25th, 2013

Slain Policemen: Ijaw Youth Leader Cautions JTF over Indiscriminate Raid on Ijaw Community

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Former secretary general of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Udengs Eradiri

A former secretary general of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Udengs Eradiri, has called on the Federal Government to immediately order the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to stop raiding the Azuzuama community in southern Ijaw local government of Bayelsa State where twelve police officers were shot dead three weeks ago.
Mr. Eradiri made the call today as he spoke to journalists in Yenagoa, the state capital. He spoke as JTF officers were accused by residents of burning houses and wreaking other kinds of havoc in Azuzuama under the pretext of searching for the officers’ killers.
Mr. Eradiri suggested that the JTF work closely with Kile Torughedi, an ex-militant leader, to unmask the killers, rather than harassing innocent members of the community. He stated that Mr. Torughedi, who now serves as a special assistant to Governor Seriake Dickson on maritime security, knows the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
Three weeks ago, some 50 policemen deployed to provide cover for “dignitaries” expected at the burial of Mr. Torughedi’s mother, came under armed attack as their boat approached Azuzuama. Twelve policemen lost their lives in the attack.
Mr. Torughedi is one of several ex-militants in the Niger Delta who accepted the Federal Government’s amnesty.
Mr. Eradiri said the JTF should not compound the woes of the people in the community who are already living in abject poverty. He warned that the Ijaw people would no longer condone the activities of the JTF in the region, accusing some members of the task force of collaboration in bunkering activities in the region.
He stated that the security agencies should focus attention on the leaders of the youths who carried out the attack, accusing those leaders of refusing “to pay their boys.” He said the unpaid youths took an action that was misplaced, but added, “the JTF should question the leaders to go and bring their boys.” The leaders, he said, know the identity of the attackers and had been interacting on phone with them. He wondered why the JTF would go into the community “to kill, rape and burn down houses of innocent people who are living in abject poverty.”
Mr. Eradiri called on President Goodluck Jonathan not to allow what happened in Odi in 1999 to repeat itself. In what is now known as the Odi massacre, Nigerian soldiers attacked the Odi community, killing anybody in sight and razing the community. The gruesome military action was a so-called reprisal for some security personnel killed by unknown assailants. None of the perpetrators of the Odi killing was ever arrested or tried.
Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta said it had commenced “Operation Pulo Shield” to flush out criminals from four hideouts in the creeks along southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa.
The task force’s media coordinator, Lieutenant Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, told reporters in Yenagoa on Tuesday that pirates had been launching attacks on unsuspecting victims going about their legitimate businesses in the water ways.
“Given our mandate to rid the Niger Delta of criminality, we are spurred by this unwholesome development to commence today, a clean-up operation of criminal hideouts where kidnappers and sea robbers hibernate,” said the spokesman.
He added: “Our troops have successfully clamped down on four criminal hideouts at Azuzuama in southern Ijaw local government.” The task force called on law abiding citizens to steer clear of criminal hideouts and to cooperate with operatives to rid the region of criminals.

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