Commercial activities were on Thursday crippled in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital as hundreds of Ijaw youths blocked the Sanni Abacha expressway, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, to protest alleged constant harassment of the former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The youths, who were seen chanting solidarity songs, lamented that Jonathan’s account had been frozen, his allowances withdrawn and his security personnel starved of their payments by the Federal Government.
The protest, which was led by the President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, temporarily stopped vehicular movement, forcing commuters to trek for miles to reach their destinations.
Eradiri was joined in the protest by women groups, various youth leaders, including youths from Jonathan’s Ogbia Local Government area of the state.
They displayed Ijaw flags and placards with inscriptions such as “Leave Patience Jonathan alone”, “LNG must be bought by Bonny people”, “If you must probe, all First Ladies must be probed”, “We need projects not soldiers”, “unfreeze Jonathan’s account”, among others.
Eradiri said: “This country has produced many presidents but the only one from the Niger Delta is constantly harassed by the mercenaries of state, especially the EFCC.
“We want to call on the President to please respect former President Jonathan, at least for the fact that he brought peace to this country, handed over peacefully to him. He didn’t go to court. He allowed him to run this country, President Buhari should please focus on leadership and stop vilifying the first family.
“We appeal to Buhari to respect Jonathan the way he respects other past presidents. They have frozen his account; they are not paying his allowances. Even the security agencies around him do not get what is due them. Why is the Presidency victimizing Goodluck Jonathan?
“Patience Jonathan is is not the first First Lady in this country. A wife to former deputy governor, governor, Vice-President and President, are you expecting her to be a poor woman? There are other First Ladies in this country.
“In recent time, a former First Lady was awarded a university license. So, we are using this medium to send a message, leave our first family alone. Some people are not happy about Jonathan’s rising profile and they want to destroy it”.
He said the Ijaw people would not negotiate for other ethnic groups in the region, adding that each region must answer its name.
Eradiri said: “Until President Buhari sits on the table by himself to address the Niger Delta issues, all these committees that he is setting up will not make any progress. President Obasanjo has it on record that he started the discussion with the Niger Delta.
“Late Yar’Adua started the discussion directly with the people. Former President Goodluck Jonathan continued that discussion, so oil flowed 2.2million barrels unfettered for six years.
“How come one year after this administration, everything has gone back to zero. We call on Mr. President, we do not want your ministers to come and be interpreting your body language in different dimensions.
“You must sit by yourself on the table. Ijaw people are not negotiating for Itsekiri people. We are not negotiating for Urhobo or any other tribe. We will be sitting as Ijaw people. We want Urhobo to sit as Urhobo, Isoko as Isoko, Itesikir as Itsekiri, Ikwere as Ikwere and Ogoni as Ogoni.
“Because of N2bn take-off fund for Maritime University, some people misinterpreted Mr. President’s body language. So instead of spending N2bn, we lost two trillion naira and precious lives of security operatives.
“Mr. President, it is time to take the right decision. We know that we are five per cent of the votes, we are not expecting anything different. But we are an integral part and a very important five per cent.
“Since you love 95 per cent and you want the 95 per cent to have peace, light in Abuja and Lagos, then you must respect five per cent. You must treat five percent equally so that your 95 per cent that you so love can have light in Abuja”, Eradiri said.
Also speaking, a youth leader from Ogbia, Osanya B. Osanya, said the entire Ogbia youths condemned the probe of Jonathan and his immediate family.
“We call on the EFCC and the present administration to tread with caution because the Niger Delta people are losing their patience of this hunting of our leaders. We call for equal rights and equity”, he said.