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IPF Condemns Raid On Chief Clark’s Home, Faults Military Intelligence Report 




By Stephen Asaba-ase & Miracle Esegha


The Ijaw Publishers’ Forum (IPF) has raised alarm on a threat to militarise the Niger Delta region, particularly Ijaw communities by the Federal Government of Nigeria following a mischievous and unverified security reports alleging that Ijaw youth are planning to attack military installations and oil facilities in the region.


Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the president of Ijaw Publishers’ Forum, Comrade Ozobo Austin on behalf of IPF expressed its utter dismay on the unlawful military raid on the country home of Ijaw national leader, Chief (Dr) Pa Edwin Kiagbodo Clark in Kiagbodo community, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State on Saturday. “However, we strongly condemn the unlawful breaking and entry into such highly profiled residence by the military. Except we are in a banana Republic, the rule of law should be adhered to in every military operation in this country”.


He stated further that the barbaric raid is a slap on Ijaw Nation and is meant to embarrass the 97-year-old Ijaw national leader, who had served this nation meritoriously, and to equally incite provocation among Ijaw youths by suspected crises merchants to accomplish their game plans.


“Following the recent ugly antecedents, the twisting of Vanguard report which refers Irate Ijaw youths to have killed soldiers in Okuama, the purported military intelligence report saying Ijaw youths are planning to attack military and oil facilities in Niger Delta, killing of Ijaw people in Bayelsa State, raiding of Ijaw communities in Delta, Bayelsa States; attempt to rope Ijaw prominent leaders and invasion of Pa Clark home, show that there is a deliberate plan by some enemies of the region to drag Ijaw Nation into the Okuama incident by all means necessary. It should be on record that Ijaw is not behind the killing of soldiers in Okuama community, and why the continuous siege on Ijaw Nation by the military?


“The military raid in Pa Clark’s home and Killing of Ijaw people in Bayelsa State should be probed and erring soldiers be brought to book in immediate effect to douse anger nationwide, he said.


“As Pan-Ijaw News Agency, the IPF wishes to state unequivocally that there is no such plan to cause fresh hostilities in the Niger Delta by Niger Deltans or Ijaw youths as alleged by adversaries of the region, he affirmed.


“IPF is however shocked to hear this prevailing false intelligence report that Ijaw youths are planning to attack the military personnel or oil facilities while mourning the deaths of their kinsmen in Bayelsa State and the military officers killed at Okuama in Delta State. This unverified security report was received with a rude shock because it is not only sending bad signals at a time stakeholders and leaders in the region are working around the clock to collaborate with security agents to fish out the perpetrators or masterminds of the dead soldiers in Okuama community.


“The president also said, Sadly, the raid of Ijaw national leader’s home and Ijaw communities is coming barely a week when the military launched a reprisal attack on a peaceful Igbomotoru community in Bayelsa State, killing over 40 residents including children, women, men and elders in search of supposedly fleeing culprits of the Okuama killing.


Ozobo also reiterated that according to the military commanding officer in Port Harcourt Division, a tracker of the Nigerian Army had tracked one Mr. Vote, the chairman of Okuama Community, whom the Army was looking for in respect of the killings of the 17 men of the Nigerian Army, to a house in Ughelli; and that the military men had broken into the house, ransacked it, before they were informed that the house belongs to Dr. Pa Clark.


“The excuse given by the military commanding officer was flimsy, and hard to believe. We can’t imagine this. Kiagbodo is an Ijaw community, and Okuama is an Urhobo community. Then, how possible Urhobo people in Okuama suddenly choose Ijaw communities to be a safe haven to hide themselves? How possible is it that soldiers serving in Delta state mistake Ughelli to be Kiagbodo in Burutu LGA? Does Ughelli and Kiagbodo look alike? Does the house tracked in Ughelli looks like Pa Clark’s home in Kiagbodo? It is not also clear that a tracker is tracking somewhere in Ughelli but the overzealous soldiers decided to attack Pa Clark’s home in Kiagbodo? Can this be a mistake, looking at the long distance of Ughelli from Kiagbodo in Burutu LGA? We can see that enemies are at work, trying to incite provocation among Ijaw youths, as well as to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it. This clearly depicts that the military intelligence are now based on hearsay, lacking facts and evidence.


“Being highly perturbed by the fake intelligence report, the IPF wishes to reiterate that Nigerian security apparatus should not be biased in its security or intelligence reports in order not to victimise and intimidate innocent residents in the Niger Delta region in spite of the recent communal land dispute which led to the gruesome killing of gallant soldiers by some irate youths in Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.


“Meanwhile, the IPF, among other stakeholders has condemned the dastardly and unimaginable act, and this ugly incident shouldn’t in any manner, suggests fresh hostility in the Niger Delta.


“It is suffice to say that the military reprisal killings of innocent persons and burning down of houses in Bayelsa state were hasty and it could be measured as great injustice within the ambit of the law and a complete abuse of the fundamental human rights of the riverine dwellers in Igbomotoru community, when the military is yet to establish any fact of organised crime between Okuama community in Delta State and that of the Igbomotoru community in Bayelsa State. Similar, incidents have been happening in Northern Nigeria, but the military is yet to destroy communities and kill civilians in places such attacks and top killing of soldiers have been taking place in the Northern Nigeria.


“The IPF expects that the Nigerian military, while making attempt to fish out the perpetrators or masterminds of the Okuama killing, should also observe the rules of engagement to avoid victimising innocent residents in our coastal communities.


“Consequently, the Niger Delta youths and stakeholders are very much committed to hold firm the existing peace in the region following the sustained Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP. Therefore, it would be unwise for crises merchants to think of brewing bad blood among the Nigerian military and the Niger Delta region.


He also added that, “On this backdrop, we appeal to Mr President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Nigerian army to exercise rules of engagement and not to plunge the country into avoidable chaos as we continue to collaborate with the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the numerous challenges bedevilling the country in recent times.


“The IPF among other Ijaw stakeholders and leaders urged the Nigeria government and its military to build a lasting peace to attract more investors across the globe to the impoverished but oil-rich Niger Delta. There is no gainsaying that the region at this point in time needs an existential development plan and execution from the Federal Government, especially as it is in tandem with the president’s Renewed Hope agenda and this can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.


“The IPF once again, while sympathising with the Nigeria military for its loss, also call on the security agents and the Federal Government to be strategic in its approach in the hunt for the perpetrators in Okuama’s killing and not give room to warmongers and opportunists with selfish interests eager to destroy the remarkable years of progress that has been achieved in the region”, he added.

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