ByÂ Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”As apprehension heightens in Ijaw land over the October 4 Federal Governmentâ€™s deadline to militants to disarm, the Ijaw in diaspora yesterday dismissed the deal, saying only armistice and justice could bring about genuine and lasting peace in the Niger Delta and not the use of force.
They described the Niger Delta conflict as a political conflict that demanded a political solution rather than a military.
The Ijaw in diaspora also called for the total withdrawal of the Joint Task Force from Ijaw territory.
â€œIt is highly hypocritical and offensive for the Nigerian state to talk of peace when it is aggressively procuring weapons to annihilate the Ijaw and consolidating the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta by relocating it from Warri to Yenagoa in the heart of the Niger Delta.
â€œIt goes without saying that the total withdrawal and disbandment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) is an important prerequisite for disarmament and peace in the Niger Delta,â€ they noted.
The Ijaw in diaspora, the under the aegis of Ijaw Foundation, in a statement signed by Dr. Ebipamone Nanakumo and Mr. Lincoln Snither, President and Secretary respectively, said the current Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty programme was designed to fail from the beginning since the fundamental problem that gave rise to militancy was not taken into consideration.
â€œThe amnesty programme of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s administration is not a genuine effort to achieve peace in the Niger Delta because it deliberately fails to address the fundamental causes and issues of the Niger Delta conflict.
â€œThe amnesty programme is unrealistic, confrontational, and inciting to violence and war. It is doomed to fail because it woefully fails to address the God-given and inalienable rights of the Ijaw people to self-determination, socio-economic justice, environmental protection and survival.
â€œThe programme is fundamentally unjust and unconscionable because it presents the unacceptable scenario whereby the Nigerian state that perpetrates heinous violence and genocidal military attacks against the Ijaw would keep and enhance its arms and ammunition, while Ijaw youths who are acting in self-defense will unilaterally surrender their arms so that the Nigerian state would, in an aggravated and accelerated manner, kill defenseless Ijaw people, destroy their habitat and means of sustenance, and rob them of their God-given wealth of crude oil and natural gas.
â€œIt is crystal clear, therefore, that the amnesty is an instrument of subjugation and enslavement. It is intended to break our collective resolve”. It is a phony promise of peace while it sets the motion for a military bloodbath,â€ the group lamented.
It recalled with sadness the mayhem unleashed on the Ijaw settlement of Gabaramatu kingdom by the nationâ€™s security forces (the Joint Task Force) in which several lives were lost and the attendant dislocation of thousands of families.
â€œWe hereby recall with extreme sadness and pain that in May 2009, the Gbaramatu Kingdom of the Ijaw Nation was visited with heinous genocide by the Nigerian military forces of occupation in the Niger Delta, the Joint Task Force (JTF): Operation Restore Hope, whereby thousands of our unarmed, non-combatant and defenceless people, mainly women, children, the elderly and the infirmed were brutally murdered or maimed, and the towns and villages were viciously decimated and ferociously razed by aerial bombardments, grenade attacks, and artillery attacks from fighter jets, warships and naval gunboats,â€ it further lamented.
The group called on President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua and the Nigerian state to work for, and create, genuine peace in the Niger Delta by implementing armistice and justice for the Niger Delta as well as immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Ledum Mitee-led Technical Committee on the Niger Delta.