By Perez Brisibe
UGHELLI – HUNDREDS of women from Iwhre-Nene community in Ughelli North local government area of Delta State, yesterday barricaded part of the Ughelli axis of the East-West express road in protest over the alleged intimidation and arrest of indigenes of the community by officials of National Petroleum Development Company, NPDC and men of the 222 Battalion, Agbarha-Otor over the spate of pipeline vandalism in the area.
The protesters who carried placard with inscriptions such as; “Nigeria Army & NPDC know who vandalized their Pipeline”, “Do not drag our President General and our community image to the mud” and “Our President General is not the Chief security officer for oil Pipelines”, stormed the road at about 8a.m and stopped vehicular movement on the road for about two hours thereby causing traffic gridlock for road users heading towards Bayelsa from Warri.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the Women Leader of the community, Mrs. Agnes Isheme said: “We are protesting because of the continuous intimidation of our husbands and sons by soldiers. Our men no longer stay with their families because of fear of arrest by security agents under the allegation that they are oil pipeline vandals.
“The people of Inene are peasant farmers who have nothing to do with pipeline vandalisation, this pipeline cuts across Ekiugbo, Inene and Afiesere communities, why is it that whenever there is anything that happens on the pipeline, their (soldiers) point of call is Inene community? She queried.
On his part, President General of the community, Mr Samuel Onosakpor while decrying the continuous intimidation on indigenes of the community by the soldiers, said: “We are innocent of the pipeline vandalization allegation being leveled on our community.
“For the records, we don’t harbor criminals, or militants in our community and we have no reason to go and vandalize pipelines.
“Am using this opportunity to appeal to the Nigerian army to always confirm and verify their information before they invade our community under the guise of arresting vandals as we would not hesitate to take legal action against anybody that wants to tarnish the image of our community.”