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Published On: Wed, Jul 31st, 2013

Warri North: Fresh Trouble Looms As Itsekiri Youths Seek Justice Over Slain Kinsmen


SAN FRANCISCO, July 29, (THEWILL) – A fresh crisis looms large in the Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State as Itshekiri youths appeared to be getting set for a showdown with their Ijaw neighbours over what they called the state government’s failure to bring those who killed 12 of their kinsmen last month to book.
Acting under the aegis of Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC), the youths declared that their kinsmen who were allegedly killed by the Ijaws would not be allowed to die for nothing even if the government fails to do something about it
.
In a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Comrade David Tonwe; Secretary, Comrade Dorsu Isaac; Public Relations Officer, Comrade Gbubemi Abigor; Legal Adviser, Comrade Robinson Ariyo; Comrade David Iwere,Comrade Lucky Pessu, Comrade Gipson Omatsuli, Comrade David Mene, Comrade Erebo Lori as well as Comrade Mike Odeli among others, the group blamed the state government for its inability to protect the lives and properties of the people of the area.
“Amid this tragedy, the State governor only visited the scene of the crime 21 days after the incident. While the governor has argued that visiting the scene should not be the first thing but ensuring that the situation is brought under control, we still think that duties could have been delegated given the life threatening nature of the situation,” the group said in the statement..
It also faulted the approach of the governor toward the attack, asking why the governor should describe the carnage as “the crisis” when he has been debriefed by leaders of the area of what actually happened in the communities.
“Why would he describe this heinous crime in terms that suggest that it is a communal clash when it is apparent for what it was?,”they asked.
The youths also maintained that the governor ought to have done more than he has so far done to address the issue and ameliorate the suffering of the victims of the attacked communities.
“We expect him as human, father and husband (besides being a medical doctor) to understand that an attack of this nature produces several impacts among which are; anger and threat of reprisal, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising from the shock and exposure to such attack and the loss of relations, Loss of livelihoods arising from the death of benefactors and damage of property as well as displacement of some victims.
“All over the world, the simple response to situations where defenceless people are attacked, killed and their property destroyed like has happened is to address these impacts..
“Throughout the governor’s response, there was no mention of progress with the investigations and arrest made in connection with the criminal act. The governor’s body language suggests that the investigation process has been jettisoned. We call for an urgent update,” the statement also said.
Lampooning the State House of Assembly saying since the incident happened, nothing tangible has been mentioned of the act in the state House of Assembly.
“We imagine that our parliamentarians, some of whom are mothers and fathers, appreciate the loss of lives. Will it take a prompting for you to discuss this brutality on the floor of the House and at least show empathy for them?
“We have a House of Assembly that has more important things to do than reflect upon the death of their constituents,” the youths said.
Showing a footage of the aftermath of the attack to journalists, the Itsekiri youths declared; “Violence is not the monopoly of any group of people but humanity has tested lawlessness and elects to take side with lawfulness. We surrendered our rights to the sovereign whom we believe will in return, protect our lives and property.
“If the dead had rejected this social contract and taken their security in their own hands, broken the law by owning guns and dangerous weapons, they would certainly have stood a better chance of defense in the face of this unprovoked attack.
“Like every human group endowed with the innate ability for self-defence, the Itsekiris were at that period (2003-2007) compelled to acquire arms following the failure of the Nigerian State to live up to its duty of protecting lives and property at the peak of the attacks.
“Unfortunately, with the acceptance of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme, the Itsekiris surrendered all the arms and ammunition they had acquired in self defense; and so became vulnerable.”
Narrating how the incident happened, the group said; “It was the early hours of that day Ijaw ethnic militias burnt down several Itsekiri communities including; Gbokoda, Ajamitan, Obaghoro, Ebrohimi, Eghoro and Tisun.
“Unfortunately, the army personnel stationed in the oil facilities near the areas, allegedly told some Itsekiri leaders that there was no order to repel the renewed onslaught.
“The incident of 2nd July, 2013 is a testament to the fact that the government both at the state and national level are incapable of securing lives and property of the ordinary man.
“Physical count by the INYC reveals that about 12 persons were killed in the unexpected attack and some of the corpses were deposited in a mortuary in Sapele by some members of the INYC.
“Several other corpses remain decomposed and beyond recognition in the neighbouring rivers and creeks.
“We gather not for the Itsekiris but for some of our human community members; men and women, boys and girls adult and infants who were gruesomely murdered 25days ago and whose corpses are now at different stages of decompositions. Five- year- old baby Aduke, burnt to ashes. Felix Atseyinku, father and husband were shot dead. Johnso Atseyinku, father and husband were shot dead. Francis Amita (Alias Akpatase), father and husband were shot dead. George Tomogho was the father of Aduke, the five- year- old baby burnt to ashes. He was axed and his body part decapitated. The list is endless.
“It would therefore only be fair to revisit the call for each ethnic group in the country to be allowed to maintain its own militia as this appears to be the only way that lives and property can be protected.”
The group therefore warned that if within weeks, the perpetrators of the killings are not brought to justice, they will have no other option than to stage huge protest before the international community.
“We shall have a bigger forum with the international community including the US and UK embassies, International Human Rights Organisations in the next few weeks where a more detailed presentation will be made. We will not relent until the truth has been successful shared across the world.
“The incident of 2nd July, 2013, is an extraordinary one which regrettably has been flipped over by many of our leaders; including the government of the day.Indeed the civilised world appears to have skipped this loss of innocent and defenceless citizens of the human community,” they said..
The group also lamented that since the end of the protracted Warri crisis in 2003, most of the visible modern buildings erected in the affected Benin River Itsekiri communities were again razed down in the new round of attacks.
It will be recalled that the crisis in Warri North Local Government Area snowballed into a full-blown clash, with the Ijaw youths attacking their Itsekiri neighbours in an onslaught during which 12 persons were killed with many others sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
The rampaging Ijaw youths who were allegedly protesting what they described as an age-long ‘political inbalance’ in the sharing of political offices in the area, unleashed terror on many Itsekiri communities in the creek, near the port town of Koko, headquarters of Warri North Local Government, sacking the communities completely.
However, several leaders from the area had blamed the carnage on some suspected miscreants who were into illegal oil bunkering activities in the area.
Leaders from the troubled Council area had told Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who also hailed from Warri North Council area that the perpetrators had launched the offensive to pave way for their continuous criminal activities unhindered .They maintained that the crisis had nothing to do with the political struggle as being insinuated by some groups.
But the attack was believed to have carried out by an Ijaw militant group, Egbema Radical Group, to drive home their clamour for an Ijaw chairmanship of the Local Government.
Source: THEWILL

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