- As community laments military invasion over pipeline attacks
Delta State Government has called for the support of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli 1, and other traditional rulers, following its advocacy campaign and sensitisation of the people against vandalising oil facilities.
The Deputy Governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, made the call yesterday when he led members of the Government Advocacy Committee set up by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on a courtesy call to the Olu of Warri at his palace in Warri South Local Government Area.
Otuaro, who was the leader of the delegation, noted that the committee was put in place by the governor, following the bombing of critical oil infrastructure in the riverine area.
He informed the monarch that the committee is billed to go to riverine areas to advocate and engage the people, especially the youths and make them realise that destruction of critical oil facilities under any guise or reason is not the way to address problems if there is any.
He posited that the committee came to solicit for the monarch’s solidarity and support in appealing to the people to refrain from vandalisation.
According to him, “Your Royal Majesty, we have come in recognition of the fact that you are by the virtue of your throne, a custodian of culture, the people and land. We deemed it fit to pay this courtesy visit on you to solicit for your usual solidarity and support before proceeding to the riverine area to embark on this engagement that the government has set out to achieve. It is our prayer that you use your exalted throne to add extra value to the purpose for which the committee has been put in place”.
Otuaro, who noted that the state government a few months ago organised a one-day summit geared towards preventing the vandalisation of oil facilities in the state, said the highpoint of the summit was to ensure that a committee is put in place to deepen intelligence and the reason or causes for which there has been incessant destruction of critical oil installation in riverine areas.
The deputy governor expressed government’s worry over the incessant bombing, saying “There is no gainsaying that as a country and a state we are in deep economic crisis and anything that happens in form of destruction of oil facilities will undoubtedly harden the economic situation we are already boxed into.”
Responding, the Olu of Warri expressed dismay over the recent act of vandalism and bombing of oil facilities in riverine areas.
“I feel more pained each time I hear of all this acts of vandalism going on in the state, we are making headlines for all the bad reasons which should not be.”
The Olu, who posited that all the good policies of government for the people cannot be achieved due to the current oil price, lamented that the spate of bombing of oil facilities will further cripple the economy.
According to him, “this is very sad to me and every other person that have good intentions for this state, local government and the nation”.
He expressed his kingdom’s support to join hands with government in its advocacy drive and to plead with the people, especially the youths to stop this act. “What are we avenging? Vengeance belongs to God. It is only God who can avenge anything bad. Man’s vengeance is limited with time and resources, but God’s vengeance lasts forever,” the Olu posited.
While expressing his support for government’s advocacy mission, he appealed to those involved in this act to stop whatever it, as it is affecting everybody negatively.
“My Council of Chiefs, the kingdom and I join government to appeal to the people, talk to our youths and tell them to stop this act of vandalism, we say enough is enough.”
Meanwhile, the people of Kokodiagbene community, Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Council Area are now living in fear over the invasion of the riverside community by the Joint Task Force, JTF, who were searching for members of the deadly militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.
Chairman of the community, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, who spoke with journalists in Warri on Monday, said they have sent a Save-Our-Soul message to the federal government, stressing that they are living in fear from the deadly activities of the Avengers and intimidation on one hand, and harassment from the military. Mulade condemned in the strongest terms the invasion of the community, alleging that while men were beaten up, women were harassed by the JTF.
According to him, the oil rich community has always been peaceful and it has never supported militancy even in the heat of the arms struggle prior to the amnesty programme.
Mulade noted that information at their disposal suggests that the JTF was led to the community by two masked men from Koko, an Itsekiri enclave who are non-indigenes of the area, warning that the military should not try to rekindle the Warri inter-ethnic conflagration as the wound of the carnage was still fresh in their memories.
‘’We condemn strongly the invasion of Kokodiagbene on Saturday by the JTF. Some people were beaten up, while others were harassed. This is uncalled for. And at the end of the day, nothing incriminating was found in the community. They entered people’s houses by force, destroyed their property and yet no single arm was recovered. We advise the military to always do its homework thoroughly before invading any community.
‘’We believe that the military should rely more on intelligence to do its work rather than resorting to the brute force which they have adopted over the years. We are law abiding people. Now, we are living under terror. Fear of attacks from the Avengers and harassment, and intimidation from the army. We therefore call on the federal government to call the army to order. Our fundamental human rights have been infringed upon.
‘’We are critical stakeholders in the Niger-Delta. We have many oil and gas installations in our community and as such we do not support what the Avengers are doing. Their agitation is affecting the economy. It is chasing away investors and destroying the environment which is our only heritage. We are willing to collaborate with the federal government and work out modalities to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.’’