By Emma Arubi
WARRI â€” AÂ SOCIAL-cultural group, theÂ Itsekiri New Dawn, yesterday accused some alleged self-acclaimed youth leaders of negotiating away their post-amnesty benefits and pocke-ting same for their own ends.
It also vowed to spill the last drop of its members’ blood to redress the worrisome situation.
Addressing a crowded press conference at the Olu of Warri palace ground, President of the group, Prince David Iwere, expressed shock that repentant militants from other ethnic group within the Niger-Delta had been paid their benefits, but wondered why government was discriminating against Itsekiri youths.
â€œWe fully support the amnesty programme in its original form, but we are surprised that the whole programme seems to be encouraging and rewarding armed struggle to the detriment of law abiding citizens like Itsekiri.
â€œBesides, implementation of the programme is apparently made in favour of Ijaw to the detriment of Itsekiri,â€ he said.
The people expressed further concern that despite the fact that they had complied by surrendering their arms and ammunition, nothing had been done on the proposed rehabilitation and resettlement of ex-militants.
Iwere, who was in company of the Secretary and PRO, Comrade Enone Johnson and Rex Ede, respectively, debunked the claim that the Itsekiri National Youth Council, INYC, has the mandate to negotiate for the Itsekiri youths onÂ post-amnesty package.
â€œWe are aware of the self-appointed so-called Itsekiri youths leaders who have been negotiating with the amnesty authority on our behalf. The fact is that these people who styled themsel-ves as INYC leaders are doing the job on their own,â€ he said.
He added that, â€œthis act of these self-centered leaders who are pocketing the post-amnesty money meant for our youths is provocative and capable of truncating the amnesty programme in Itsekiri.â€
He urged Governor Uduaghan to call them to order.
Police arrest Itsekiri women, youths
Meanwhile, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), otherwise known as Red Beret, yesterday, immediately after the conference in Warri, stormed the residence of Itsekiri woman leader and nationalist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, arresting over 30 Itsekiri women and youths for alleged illegal assembly.
The fierce-looking police-men stormed the compound, where those arrested were having lunch after the press conference at the Oluâ€™s Palace playground, Warri before proceeding to Chief Rita Loriâ€™s residence for a brief reception.
Those arrested were violently moved to the Police Area Commanderâ€™s office, from where arrangement was quickly made for them to be moved to the police headquarters, Asaba, a move the youths vehemently protested leading to further brutality.
When contacted on his mobile phone for comments on the reason behind the arrest, the Area Commander, Mr. Akali, said he was very busy and could not comment on the issue.
It was gathered that the key players in the conference that addressed vexed issues concerning the recent happenings in Itsekiri affairs, Mr. Ameachi Ogbonna, and Alex Eyiangho, are the target of the Red Beret Police, just as Itsekiri youth leader, Mr. David Iwere, waded into the matter, discussing with the area commander, with a view to resolving it amicably.
Both had addressed the joint press conference where a multitude of Itsekiri people gathered and gave their support for the demands put forward by the organisers of the conference before procee-ding for reception from where over 30 participants were arrested, some with plates of food in their hands.
Some of the youths alleged that the order for their arrest came from above and as at the time of filing this report the youths were still resisting been taken in four hired buses to Asaba as they did not commit any offence that warrants the intervention of the state government, saying they only converged to discuss Itsekiri matters.
However, by this evening only four persons were finally arrested and taken to Asaba for questioning out of the over 30 men, women and youths earlier arrested in the afternoon.
Those taken to Asaba include Mr. David Iwere; Sir Roky Odeli; Charles Okoh and Macauley Omatsola while the others were allowed home after much protest at the Area Commanders Office, Warri.
In a swift reaction to the claims by the Itsekiri New Dawn, the Vice President of the ItsekiriÂ National Youth Council, INYC, Comrade Omolubi Newuwumi faulted the allegations, saying it is not only frivolous but laced with malice.
On the alleged desecration of the Olu of Warri palace by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, himself and others, he said there was never a time he or others led thugs to the Olu’s palace as they hold the Olu in high esteem and have been financier to the building of the palace.
According to him, â€œthe so-called conference was a political meeting by the some few Itsekiri people and it was not sanctioned by the entire Itsekiri nation and that was why the palace was even locked at that time.
â€œThe security agencies and the few journalists that came there can testify to this.â€