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N-Delta residents want JTF humiliation stopped

By Samuel Oyadongha
Travellers on the Oporoma-Ogboinbiri waterway in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State have described as humiliating the practice where they (boat passengers) are made to raise their hands over their head as a mark of surrender at the Joint Task Force checkpoint.

Though the ritual of raising hands before passing JTF checkpoint had been discontinued in  Nembe axis, which before the amnesty had three checkpoints, two at Ogbolomabiri and one at the Bassambiri end, boat drivers this time around only have to slow down as they approach the checkpoints.

But traveling through the Oporoma-Ogboinbiri route could be a humiliating experience for any passenger who is not used to the raising his/her hands passing through military checkpoints.

Speedboat drivers and their passengers stand the risk of losing their lives if they failed to slow down while approaching the checkpoints.

Also, any passenger who failed to raise his/ her hand above the head as a mark of surrender, either risk his/ her life or punishment as the speedboat gets to the checkpoint, as such offenders are often summarily dealt with by men of the JTF.

However, observers and critics are querying the rationale behind the application of double standards by the JTF, as this subhuman treatment (raising hands) meted out on passengers had since stopped at the JTF checkpoints at Nembe and other parts of the state.

Lamenting the dilemma of commuters on the route, Secretary of Bayelsa State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Comrade Alagoa Morris, said “nobody is quarreling with the presence of the JTF at Oporoma and Ogboinbiri for the sake of providing security for Shell and Agip flow stations in these communities, but commuters should be allowed free access and use of the rivers and creeks of Southern Ijaw.

“The very people the Nigerian Army was supposed to protect should not be subjected to the type of thing happening at the checkpoints mentioned.

“Agreed that Southern Ijaw had the highest number of militant camps in the state before amnesty was announced, but with the acceptance of the amnesty and dropping of arms by all the camps, forcing passengers to still raise hands above their heads while approaching JTF checkpoint does not make victims feel the amnesty enjoyed by others or could it be that the authorities are still suspicious of the people of the local government?

Continuing, he said “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander; the military authorities should look into the matter in Southern Ijaw in line with the presidential amnesty.

“This is why it is pertinent that, in the spirit of amnesty, the JTF should reconsider the issue of making the people look like a conquered folks, for the amnesty never mentioned one as victor and the other vanquish.”Travellers on the Oporoma-Ogboinbiri waterway in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State have described as humiliating the practice where they (boat passengers) are made to raise their hands over their head as a mark of surrender at the Joint Task Force checkpoint.

Though the ritual of raising hands before passing JTF checkpoint had been discontinued in  Nembe axis, which before the amnesty had three checkpoints, two at Ogbolomabiri and one at the Bassambiri end, boat drivers this time around only have to slow down as they approach the checkpoints.

But traveling through the Oporoma-Ogboinbiri route could be a humiliating experience for any passenger who is not used to the raising his/her hands passing through military checkpoints.

Speedboat drivers and their passengers stand the risk of losing their lives if they failed to slow down while approaching the checkpoints.

Also, any passenger who failed to raise his/ her hand above the head as a mark of surrender, either risk his/ her life or punishment as the speedboat gets to the checkpoint, as such offenders are often summarily dealt with by men of the JTF.

However, observers and critics are querying the rationale behind the application of double standards by the JTF, as this subhuman treatment (raising hands) meted out on passengers had since stopped at the JTF checkpoints at Nembe and other parts of the state.

Lamenting the dilemma of commuters on the route, Secretary of Bayelsa State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Comrade Alagoa Morris, said “nobody is quarreling with the presence of the JTF at Oporoma and Ogboinbiri for the sake of providing security for Shell and Agip flow stations in these communities, but commuters should be allowed free access and use of the rivers and creeks of Southern Ijaw.

“The very people the Nigerian Army was supposed to protect should not be subjected to the type of thing happening at the checkpoints mentioned.

“Agreed that Southern Ijaw had the highest number of militant camps in the state before amnesty was announced, but with the acceptance of the amnesty and dropping of arms by all the camps, forcing passengers to still raise hands above their heads while approaching JTF checkpoint does not make victims feel the amnesty enjoyed by others or could it be that the authorities are still suspicious of the people of the local government?

Continuing, he said “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander; the military authorities should look into the matter in Southern Ijaw in line with the presidential amnesty.

“This is why it is pertinent that, in the spirit of amnesty, the JTF should reconsider the issue of making the people look like a conquered folks, for the amnesty never mentioned one as victor and the other vanquish.”


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