To avoid unnecessary friction that may lead to tension in the area, President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to call for the immediate withdrawal of troops redeployed to some communities in the Niger Delta region.
A human rights activist, Ann-Kio Briggs, who gave the warning said the presence of soldiers in these communities particularly in the Gbaramatu community of Delta state could be agitating and was capable of causing tension in the area.
This is coming at a time when the Federal High court in Lagos ordered for the arrest of the ex-militant warlords for his refusal to honor several invitations by the EFCC.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital at the weekend, Ann-Kio Briggs warned that if the idea of redeploying troops to the Delta community was to arrest Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, then “They should go through the due process of arresting anybody”.
“Tompolo has been doing legitimate business with the government over the years. I don’t know which law stipulates how to do business or otherwise. If the federal government has any issue with Tompolo, they should go through the due process of properly investigating him.
“You can’t send soldiers to destroy a community, arrest young men and rape women in the name of searching for Tompolo. If they claim that everybody in the Ijaw land is a criminal, does it also mean that everybody in the north is a member of Boko Haram?
“You cannot hold the traditional rulers responsible for Tompolo’s action or inaction. The attitude of the soldiers in the Ijaw communities is oppressive. The moment soldiers are restricted to a particular ethnic group in the country, it becomes very
Ann-Kio Briggs who is the spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly, IRA, said it was fundamentally wrong for soldiers to “invade” any community in search of their target, adding that such action was “not the way to address the issue of decades-long neglect of the Niger Delta region by every successive government”.
According to her, If Tompolo has been indicted for any wrong doing, he should be properly investigated but “there are officials in this government who have been indicted of embezzlement of public funds, yet they are walking about as freemen”.
Speaking further, the activist corrected that the search for the arrest of Tompolo should not be enough reason for the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to cancel the Maritime University set up by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in Delta state.
She described as anti-Nigeria the cancellation of the university by the minister, stating that this is capable of generating “bad blood” between the north and the people of the Niger Delta region.
“Tompolo’s issue is not enough reason for anybody to cancel the maritime university. This is a shame. We in the Ijaw land deserve the equal share of every good thing in this country. If an aviation university is to be built in the north, why can’t somebody leave the maritime university in Delta!
Jonathan built about twelve new universities in his tenure and five of these universities were in the north. Why should anybody contemplate of denying Ijaw people the right of hosting a university on their land?”, she quipped