Residents of Igbomotoru in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have raised the alarm over alleged military siege on their communities by an international oil company (IOC), Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and a pipeline surveillance firm, Darlon Security Nigeria Limited.
Then residents called on the state and Federal Governments as well as the international community to intervene in what they described as dehumanisation of their communities by armed personnel.
Leaders of the communities led by the acting paramount ruler of Igbomotoru 1, Chief Simon Alogodei, told journalists in Yenagoa, last Saturday, that the armed soldiers were allegedly acting on the instructions of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited and a pipeline surveillance firm, Darlon Security Nigeria Limited.
Alogodei said the military brutality was being intensified despite a formal letter dated July 6, 2022, which they wrote to the organs of government at the state and federal levels notifying them of the unprovoked siege.
He said, “With deep pains in our hearts and from a state of new-complete helplessness, we the leaders and bona-fide representatives of Igbomotoru 1 and 2 communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, hereby call on the Bayelsa State Government, Federal Government of Nigeria and the international community to, with earnestness, urgently intervene and bring under control the ongoing siege and persistent dehumanisation in our Igbomotoru 1 and 2 communities being perpetrated by armed military personnel and their cohorts, believably acting on the directives and instructions of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd and Darlon Security Nigeria Ltd.
“While we do not have any quarrels with military personnel providing security in any part of Nigeria, including our Igbomotoru 1 and 2 communities, it is not in dispute that they are expected to keep to their standard code of conduct and maintain international best practices. It cannot be a medium siege mentality and subject our people to dehumanisation.
“As at today, our poor and hapless women are beaten and harassed re-currently by these armed military personnel. Living and doing business in our communities is now virtually impossible.”
The traditional ruler, therefore, urged the governments and the international community to prevail on the allegedly sponsored soldiers to vacate their lands and stop inflicting pains and sorrows on them.
Also speaking, the solicitors to Igbomotoru communities, Prof. Festus Emiri (SAN) and Stanley Damabide, claimed that no fewer than seven people had been killed and several others arrested in Igbomotoru since the soldiers stormed the communities on June 22, 2022.
Dismissing insinuation of oil bunkering camps in the area, Emiri described the military invasion as a part of divide-and-rule tactics deployed by the oil firm and its ally to keep the communities disunited, stressing that there was no problem in Igbomotoru to warrant the presence of soldiers.
He said, “There is no problem in the community, and in any case, soldiers have no powers whatsoever to invade any community. The Constitution of Nigeria is very clear, Section 217 to 218; soldiers are only deployed and employed to protect the territorial integrity of the country.
“If they perceive there is any problem in the community, what they should do is to seek police help and the police have the powers under our law to prosecute. But what they are doing is to frighten the people and once the people are frightened they cannot come together to present a common front against Agip used as a surrogate by Darlon Security Limited.
“At least seven persons have been killed. How many more they want to kill we don’t know. Several persons have been arrested, people can’t go to their farms, people are just in prison but the constitution guarantees their right to life, property and movement. These cannot be abridged without any court of law convicting a people. There is nothing like community guilt. The law does not provide that a community can be guilty. An individual can be guilty, not a community.”
Damabide on his part expressed surprise that despite the formal complaint to relevant government quarters, the alleged acts of dehumanisation were still going on in Igbomotoru.
He, however, disclosed that they had just received a phone call from the state government informing them of a meeting scheduled for Friday this week and described the military brutality in the community as “sad and unfortunate”.
Efforts to get the responses of the Agip Oil Company and Darlon Security Nigeria Limited proved abortive as their spokespersons could not be reached.
Tai APC Collapses As Hundreds Return To PDP …Say They Were Blinded By Fake Promises
Over 500 former members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Tai Local Government Area have returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The returnees led by the first PDP Chairman of the area, Hon Peter Gwezia, announced their return to the PDP, last Saturday, during the GDI’s sensitisation programme for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) at the Council Secretariat, Saakpenwa.
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the returnees while renouncing membership of the APC, Hon Peter Gwezia, said he and other APC members decided to leave the party due to failure of leadership.
While promising to work for the success of the PDP in the 2023 election, Gwezia said the APC lacked ideas, and was like a vehicle without engine, could not take them to their desired destination, hence their decision to leave the party.
In his remarks, Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon Chukwuemeka Aaron, who received the returnees on behalf of the Chairman, PDP Rivers State, Amb Desmond Akawor, assured them of equal treatment, saying there are no new members in the party.
“I want to welcome you all and to say that in PDP and GDI where you are today, no person is new. We all have equal status, we all have equal rights. Some of the people that were with you there doing the jamboree that came back today, they are commissioners; they have gone to the National Assembly, become chairmen of councils.
“So, having seen what our leader, Chief Nyesom Wike has done in Rivers State, and in Tai, and what your chairman of council is doing in Tai, they have come back to take their rightful position. We want to thank all of you, and to say that the party chairman and the chairman of council will integrate you into the activities of GDI”.
Also speaking, GDI President-General, Chief Bright Amaewhule, said the performance of the present administration in the state was enough testimony for any Rivers son or daughter to reckon that PDP was the only party which had their interest at heart.
Amaewhule said that of the candidates lined up for the governorship seat in the state, only the PDP Governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, was competent and qualified to give the state good governance from day one.
He, therefore, challenged eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs to do so as soon as possible, and prepare to cast their votes for the right party which was a master of good governance and quality projects’ delivery in the state come 2023.
The returnees, alongside GDI members from the 10 wards of Tai, including youths, women and students groups, later engaged in a wild gyration, turning the entire arena into dance frenzy.
The event also featured solidarity speeches from stakeholders among them former and current National and State Assembly members, former and serving council chairmen, former commissioners, party stalwarts, and captains of industry, among others.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
MOSOP Tasks SPDC On Fresh Oil Spill
Factional President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, has called on Shell Petroleum Development Company (Shell) Joint Venture (JV), the oil and gas multinational company, to take full responsibility and appropriate action to curb a fresh oil spill in Bodo Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nsuke, who noted that the spill was first noticed in the community early last week, blamed Shell for the spill and urged the Dutch multinational to alleviate its impact on the community, curtail its spread and commence proper remediation and compensation in accordance with global best practices.
The MOSOP leader noted that the oil spills from the Trans Niger Pipeline operated by the Shell JV, suddenly erupted within the residential area of the community, alleging that it must have been caused by equipment failure.
He observed that although the cause of the spills, which was occurring 11years after the release of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports, was yet to be ascertained, the spills have affected residential areas and community dwellers have been asked by the MOSOP to evacuate the area, to avoid causality in case of a fire.
“This massive spill is occurring 11 years after the UNEP released a damning report exposing Shell’s devastation of the Ogoni environment.
“We have communicated with community leaders to cooperate with investigations and ensure that every detail about this spill is communicated to our secretariat as soon as possible”, he said.On his part, Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said, “the cause of the crude oil spill which occurred inside the community where people live is not yet known at this time.”
By: Tonye Nria-Dappa
Nigeria’s Freedom Of Expression Attracting Global Attention, Buhari Claims
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, said it was instructive that Nigeria was attracting positive international attention as a country that promoted media freedom and freedom of expression.
He said this was premised on the government’s understanding of the important roles that information literacy and media education played in sustainable development.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this while pledging his “full support” for three major international events scheduled to hold in Nigeria in October and November 2022.
They include: the 2022 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Media, Information Literacy Week in Abuja, in October, the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry in Lagos, as well as the second Global Association of Literary Festivals Conference, Abeokuta, in November.
In the statement titled ‘President Buhari pledges support as Nigeria hosts major cultural, tourism and literary events,’ he said the global events were opportunities to showcase the nation’s rich heritage in culture, arts, tourism and entertainment as well as advancements on media freedom.
Earlier, the Minister of Information ad Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that hosting the 2022 UNESCO Global Media, Information Literacy Week, would help to address the rising spate of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Expressing his delight to welcome international visitors to Nigeria, Buhari urged citizens to leverage the events to exhibit the values “that make us a unique, friendly and peace-loving people.”
The statement read in part, “Welcoming the decision by the UNESCO’s World Tourism Organisation and the Global Association of Literary Festivals to grant Nigeria the right to host these separate historic events, the President assures all relevant stakeholders and participants of the warmth and hospitality of the people of Nigeria.
“On the MIL Week, Buhari notes that it is instructive that Nigeria is attracting positive international attention as a country that promotes media freedom and freedom of expression, recognising the important roles information literacy and media education play in sustainable development.
“On the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry, the President says the rapid growth of Nigeria’s film, fashion, music, and the Information and Communications Technology sector, and the increase in international appeal and acceptance would continue to spur government to devote more resources to the sector.”
Among other initiatives, Buhari noted that the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, established by his administration and managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had provided single-digit financing to many young Nigerians in the fields of fashion, film, music and information technology.
He noted that the $100 million re-development of the National Theatre, Lagos, into a world-class creative park is also ongoing, following the handover of the facility to the CBN and the Bankers Committee.
The President, therefore, expressed confidence that the literary world would find many good things to celebrate about Nigeria when they meet in the historic city of Abeokuta, homeland and birthplace of one of Nigeria’s finest literary icons and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
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