By Emem Idio
YENAGOA—THE arrest of the traditional ruler of Agrissaba community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, His Royal Highness King Walter Agri, by operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, over his alleged involvement in a protest against the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NOAC, is causing tension in the oil-rich riverine community.
It was gathered that angry youths and elders of the community had staged a protest against the multinational oil company last Friday over non-payment of compensation for the oil spill, non- payment of contract done for remediation of the creek and canal since three years, refusal to award surveillance contract and clearing of pipeline route to indigenes.
The elders of the community, in a statement, yesterday, in Yenagoa by Chief Tobin Esau, alleged that the arrest of their traditional ruler was preceded by armed invasion of the community by youths and attacks on over 10 indigenes who sustained various degrees of injury.
According to the elders, “The community is a symbol of peace and tranquillity based on the ancient and historic antecedent of our progenitor. The serenity of the community was shattered after a peaceful protest by the community on August 6, 2016, over NAOC’s neglect of the community in its developmental agenda .
“We wish to condemn the barbaric treatment of our king. It is a fact that the DSS has no regard and respect for traditional institution in Ijawland. Has the DSS arrested any village head, district head, or Emir in the North as a result of the activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen? Why did they arrest our king over peaceful protest by the people to express their displeasure over their neglect?
“The protest was due to the non-payment of compensation over an oil spill, non-payment of contract done for remediation of creek/canal since three years, refusal to award the surveillance contract and clearing of pipeline, award of security contract to a non-indigene, pollution of the only source of drinking water, the failure to honour the MoU, refusal to build police post agreed on five years ago, refusal to pay compensation for land acquisition and refusal to demarcate the land to avoid dispute with our neighbours. These were the reasons for our mass protest.”