STATEMENT ISSUED BY IJAW ELDERS AND LEADERS AT THE AFTERMATH OF THE UNPROVOKED MILITARY ATTACK ON IJAW COMMUNITIES IN WARRI SOUTH WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF DELTA STATE
At the aftermath of the unprovoked attack on Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State the Ijaw nation wishes to state with emphatic unequivocation the following:
a) That the deployment of highly supplicated military weaponry and arsenal to engage hapless villages and towns in aerial and amphibious bombardment in a scale never ever witnessed in even the Nigerian civil war is callous, inhuman, dastardly, barbaric and insensitive. We condemn this unprovoked attack in the strongest term possible.
b) The burning, destruction, complete razing of Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Peretorukorigbene, Kurutie and many other communities and the killing and maiming of innocent people including women and children amount to systemic annihilation of an ethnic race and this is simply genocide. It therefore deserves international condemnation.
c) Nigeria, in the comity of nations, is a highly respected country in International Peace Keeping operations where its proficiency even in the most challenging circumstances restrained it from the deployment of such supplicated weaponry in the weight and scale as was deployed to attack the Ijaw communities. It is therefore a travesty of justice and totally incomprehensible that the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) which primary task is to restore hope and bring peace to the troubled Niger Delta region decided to employ such highly sophisticated weaponry to kill and maim innocent fellow citizens. This, in our estimation is a clearly premeditated attack, conceived, planned and executed with the light of speed not even enforced in normal war situation.
d) The Ijaw ethnic nation contributes more than 70% of Nigeria’s wealth. We appear to be a people who have become victims of our own wealth by the use of sophisticated military hardware bought with our own petro-naira to kill our people.
e) It is indeed criminal, unjustified, inconsiderate and callous to declare full military operations on communities in the guise of undertaking a search and rescue mission for hostages and missing personnel whereas it is common knowledge that hostages and hijacked vessels are secured within the precinct of militant camps and not villages inhabited by innocent people. This is nothing but a deeply contemplated systemic killing of the Ijaw people in furtherance of the age-long crave by sections of this country to either forcefully relocate us or make the Ijaw identity extinct in the Nigerian map with a view to taking over full possession of our natural resources.
f) The Ijaw ethnic nation appeals to the United Nations Organisation to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding this latest assault and killing of hapless and innocent people since we do not foresee the possibility of justice from a Nigerian government commissioned inquiry.
g) The Ijaw ethnic nation demands that those found responsible by the Inquiry should be tried at the International Court of Justice for acts of genocide.
h) The Ijaw ethnic nation in tandem with our earlier stand wish to call for the immediate withdrawal of the Joint Military Task Force and its personnel from the Ijaw land. The JTF has become more of an occupation force in our land and not advancing the course of peace.
i) The Ijaw ethnic nation calls on the Federal Government to take full responsibility for the rebuilding of all destroyed towns and communities and the immediate resettlement of all displaced people.
j) The Ijaw ethnic nation calls on the Federal Government to immediately order its troops to stop chasing and harassing innocent Ijaw sons and daughters in their own land for no reason.
k) Whereas as an ethnic nationality we have suffered decades of deprivation and neglect in the hands of Nigeria’s ruling tripod, the Ijaw elders have continually maintained that no arms combat can earn the Ijaw struggle its desired outcome. It is futile and counter-productive to continue the arms struggle as a strategy to emancipate the Ijaw nation from the present economic strangulation and neglect. We therefore call on our youth to take advantage of the amnesty pledged by Mr. President to surrender their arms.
l) The Ijaw ethnic nation appeals to all youths to sheath their sword and avoid further escalation of military combat since there is no better alternative to dialogue in conflict resolution. We want peace to seek the course of international arbitration and justice as the most plausible way to resolving the intractable crises in Ijaw land. Therefore we call on our combating children to exercise maximum restraint and cease further hostilities forthwith.
m) The Ijaw people are peace loving, law abiding and loyal citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who, like people from other parts of this country, abhor criminality. The generalisation and characterization of the youths’ militant actions as inherent characteristic peculiar to the Ijaws is therefore unkind, unfair, discriminating, and unacceptable. As a people we condemn the nefarious criminal activities like hostage taking and hijacking indulged in by some of the youth which has negatively impacted on the development strides of the various governments on our land and demand that those involved should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the country.
Signed for and On behalf of the Ijaw Nation:
Dr. A. W. Obianime
President, Ijaw National Congress (INC)
Chief (Dr.) Edwin K. Clark, OFR, CON
Ijaw National Leader