The umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, has condemned random bombings of the Niger Delta by the Nigerian military under the guise of arresting sea pirates.
The IYC President, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, said inasmuch as the group condemned criminalities in the region, such random air raids were a ploy to bomb the Niger Delta people.
Eradiri made the youths’ position known at the Izon House Headquarters of the IYC in Yenagoa, Bayelsa of Wednesday, when he received officials of the Niger Delta Youth Forum that honoured him with an Award of Excellence for his exemplary leadership.
The IYC President asked the military authorities to device a more workable approach to fishing out criminals in the region instead of bombing the entire communities in search of sea pirates.
Eradiri said, “Very unfortunately the military, (I do not know if they are doing eye service), in recent times, there are a series of bombings of the region to fish out pirates.
“The Nigerian Navy is there, a lot of money is spent on the Navy. There are a lot of blockades in the waterways, yet pirates and kidnappers still have their ways, abducting people on the main routes manned by the military?
“I think there is complicity. So, this pretext of looking for pirates and begin to bomb randomly is not accepted by us. We see it as a ploy to begin to move towards bombing people in the Niger Delta region.
“We are saying that inasmuch as we condemn criminality in the region, the approach as experienced in the recent weeks is not acceptable because there are statutory organs – the Joint Military Task Force, the Navy that have been funded over the years to secure the waterways.
“But when we begin to bring in the Air Force, then there will be colossal damage and at the end of the day our innocent communities will suffer for it”.
He also urged the youth of the region to desist from actions that would give the military the excuse to do what they had started doing in Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
Eradiri added, “So, if you are a kidnapper, don’t use our environment to kidnap, if you are pirates, leave the Ijaw environment because we do not want a situation your activities which are not sanctioned by our people will begin to bring calamities to the Niger Delta.
“I have been talking to many youths, we must give the current administration in the country the opportunity to express themselves and we begin to take them on their actions accordingly.
Very unfortunately, if this bombing is one of their modus of maintaining peace in the region, it is a negative way”.
The IYC boss also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to start off the amnesty office by quickly appointing a Coordinator for the Presidential Amnesty Programme, saying it was one key area that concerned them as a people.
Eradiri, however, counseled Buhari on the need to separate the Coordinator’s office from that of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, which were hitherto merged.
He added, “The programme is dear to us. It is building the capacity of our people. There are a lot of Niger Delta people scattered around the world and they are receiving qualitative education in various countries of the world.
“So, leaving the office vacant is a problem. We know what we are doing in trying to manage our youths in order not to carry out activities that will draw the attention of government because we may not know the repercussions that will come. But the truth is that you cannot leave that office vacant”.