ABUJAâ€”The Ijaw of the troubled oil rich Niger Delta said Wednesday in Abuja that officials of Delta State government in colaboration with the Joint Task Force for Niger Delta, have concluded a fresh plot to disrupt the prevailing fragile peace in Warri, Delta State, and its environs, with the aim of scuttling the ongoing amnesty process which took off a few days ago.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja , President General of the Niger Delta coalition group, the Niger Delta Restoration Initiative (NDRI), Mr. Pupagha Ekpedekumor, alleged that the plot was hatched by some high ranking officials ofÂ Delta State government and top hierarchy of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta.
He alleged that the plot included creating insecurity along the Warri waterways especially at the Escravos and Gbaramatu axis through real or imaginary attacks on Itsekiri passenger boats, and thereafter blame the attacks on Ijaw militants or sea pirates with the aim of halting the gradual withdrawal of JTF troops from Ijaw communities in the Niger Delta ordered recently by the Federal Government in furtherance of the amnesty process.
The NDRI alarm is coming on the heels of media reports that the inhabitants of about nine Itsekiri communities in Escravos, Warri South West local government area of Delta State, comprising mainlyÂ women, on Monday staged a protest and marched to the Government House Annex in Warri, as well as the Delta Broadcasting Service, over alleged attacks on Itsekiri passenger boats.
However Ekpedekumor, dismissed the claims as outright falsehood, saying itâ€™s a ploy by the Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and the JTF to scuttle the ongoing amnesty process with the active connivance of the Itsekiri, insisting they were prompted to raise the false alarm of insecurity in the Delta waterways to justify the continued presence of the JTF.
His words: â€œThe truth of the matter is that from the onset, the Delta state governor, Dr. Uduaghan, who is an Itsekiri, had never been sincerely committed to the amnesty granted militants by President Yarâ€™Adua. And he had been working discreetly to ensure that the process failed. Again, for obvious economic reasons, commanders of the JTF have been doing everything possible, including creating a false atmosphere of insecurity to maintain their presence in the Niger Delta.
Now that the Federal Government is sincere in implementing the amnesty package, and it has become apparent and the JTF has been directed to gradually pull out its troops, the Delta state government have suddenly woken up with stories of imaginary attacks on Itsekiri passenger boats with calls for the JTF to be retained. Besides, they are also speaking of imminent violent skirmishes between the Itsekiri and the Ijaws.
But if you study the media reports critically, you would notice the glaring inconsistencies especially with regards to the casualty figures. Then, they pointedly accused Ijaw militants of carrying out the attacks. The question is: which security agency or group investigated the attacks and ascertained that they were perpetrated by Ijaw militants? Are there no Itsekiri militants?
Interestingly, Mr Ayiri Emami, who is leading the propaganda campaigner of the alleged attacks, is the leader of Itsekiri militants known to the Federal and Delta state governments. When the Senate President, Senator David Mark, led a team of his colleagues on a tour of the creeks in Delta state, which militant leader did he visit and held talks with? The only militant leader visted in Delta was Ayiri Emami.
He was even the one awarded the contract of building the military base at Tompoloâ€™s Camp 5, presently occupied by the JTF, and he has already completed a block of the buildings.
Rather than being used as an instrument of confusion and under-development, the Itsekiris should collaborate with the Federal Government, the Ijaws, and the leaders of other well-meaning ethnic groups in the Niger Delta towards enthroning enduring peace and development in the troubled region.â€