By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
Indigenes of Ayakoroma community residing in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State have called on the federal government to institute an independent judicial commission of inquiry on the massacre and the sacking of their ancestral home by the nation special security forces the Joint Taskforce JTF in pursuit of renegade militant, John Togo and his gang.
About 51 persons among them 15 children and eleven women were killed according to the natives with over 100 persons missing and over 200 buildings razed down.
Specifically, they call on the United Nations and the African Union to put on trial the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs and the men of JTF for the genocide committed on the villagers before the international war crimes tribunal.
Lamenting the magnitude of damages inflicted on Ayakoroma by the JTF, the Spokesman of the community in Bayelsa State, Comrade Ebiakpo Barle called on President Jonathan to declare the community a disaster and an emergency zone and commence the immediate rebuilding of the community so that all displaced persons would be resettled, rehabilitated and adequately compensated.
They accused the JTF of carrying out a predetermined operation in the community instead of fishing out the wanted John Togo whom the community alleged was friend of the federal government and the JTF before he fell out with them.
The community Spokesman had claimed that Togo’s camp was about three kilometres away from the community and that the natives had always provided the JTF with intelligent report on the activities of renegade militant and his gang and wondered why they (JTF) descended on the defenceless people with all the heavy artilery weapon at their disposal.
The residents of Ayakoromo community in Bayelsa State also called President Goodluck Jonathan to order the immediate withdrawal of all troops from the devastated community so as to enable the displaced natives return home as well as provide relief materials to the refugees that are accommodated in Ughelli, Warri, Ogbe_Ijoh, Bomadi, Burutu, Gbekebor, Obotebe and some communities in Bayelsa State.
Flanked by Chief Owolo Onduku, Elder Braye Okpe and Mrs. Florence Adipre chairman, Patron and woman leader respectively, Ayakoromo community in Yenagoa, Barle said, “the community is still under siege and the people held hostage as both the indigenes and independent observers are prevented from visiting the community without ‘visa’ issued by the JTF.”
Lamenting what he described as the high handedness of the military on the defenceless civilian populace, said nowhere in Nigeria apart from the Niger Delta that innocent people were deliberately shot dead and a community burnt down by the nation armed forces to the extent of using aerial bombardment in search of criminals arising from socio_political and religious agitations.
“The use of crude and brute force in the Niger Delta has become panacea to the crisis in the region by the Nigerian state,” he noted with concern adding, “the Niger Delta crisis will not abate because the military is feeding fat from it. Hence they invade harmless communities in order to portray to the public that they are alive to their professional responsibilities while in the real sense, it is purely to acquire maximum financial benefits.”
But the Joint Task Force in swift reaction dismissed the claim that about fifty one persons were killed and homes deliberately razed down by its men insisting that only ten lives were lost.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Forces, Lt Col Timothy Antigha said the organizers of the press briefing were impostors being sponsored by militants who want to destabilise Bayelsa.
He wondered why they did not organise the briefing in Warri or Asaba in Delta State.
On the buildings that were razed down in the community he said, the few houses burnt had fuel stored in them and were ignited in fire when John Togo opened fire on the troops.