The umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, on Thursday, told President Muhammadu Buhari that members of the militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) were within his government.
The President of IYC, Udengs Eradiri, who briefed the press at the headquarters of the council in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, also lamented constant linkage of avengers and criminals in Lagos State to Ijaw people.
Eradiri advised President Buhari to begin the search for avengers within his government insisting that members of the militant group were in Aso Rock villa.
He wondered why the military was laying siege in Gbaramatu Kingdom for members of NDA whom he said were not in the community.
He said, “Why are they always quick to attack our communities. Gbaramatu is not the headquarters of avengers. It does not habour any avenger. Do you think that the community people are happy that they are under siege and cannot go about their normal duties?
“The more they are doing this thing, the more Ijaw people will begin to come together and we will never be divided. The government should stop harassing our people.
“The NDA is within them. They know themselves. They are blocking the President left, right and centre so that he would not see them. The NDA is with him and his people there”.
Eradiri also insisted that the Ijaw people were not behind the violent attacks on communities in Lagos and Ogun states by militants regretting that some people deliberately ascribed such criminalities to Ijaw to cause ethnic war between Ijaw and their Yoruba neighbours.
He asked the security agencies to do their job by flushing out the perpetrators of Lagos violence and stop making public statements that could create ethnic tension.
He said, “There are some groups in Lagos engaged in criminal activities and those activities are now threatening the brotherly relationship our people have enjoyed in Lagos.
“First, Nigeria should stop ascribing anything that happened in the Niger Delta to Ijaw people. For the avoidance of doubt, Niger Delta Avengers are not Ijaw people. I am tired of answering questions about Niger Delta Avengers.
“I am the President of the Ijaw Youth Council. I am not the President of NDA. NDA are not Ijaw people. We don’t know who Niger Delta Avengers are. If the security agencies know avengers, they should arrest them. They should do their jobs.
“They should stop transferring their jobs to community leaders or youth Organisations or leaders of ethnic nationalities. Their duty is to maintain law and order, to gather intelligence and do whatever they deem fit to ensure that there is peace in the country.
“Please stop ascribing negative things to Ijaw people. We are the fourth largest ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and I agree that we are the people who refuse to eat sand and call it food. But that does not mean that every little thing that happens in the region will be ascribed to Ijaw people”.
Eradiri said the Lagos issue has assumed a worrisome dimension adding that all the criminal activities in communities hosting the Arepo Atlas Cove pipelines in Lagos and Ogun States were being perpetrated by thieves who were out to enrich themselves.
He said there is widespread economic crimes along pipelines in the country and that the Lagos scenario involved people from all the ethnic groups.
He said, “So, Nigerians should stop ascribing it to Ijaw people. Ijaw people are peace-loving people. For over hundreds of years, our people have cohabited with other ethnic nationalities. We have never been known to be hostile people.
“We sympathise with families that have lost their lives especially during the Ogun-Arepo crisis. As much as our hearts grieve with the affected families, we want to say that the aggressors are not Ijaw people. They are common criminals who are stealing refined products for economic reasons.
“Therefore, the police and other security agencies that are sustained by taxpayers money should go and do their job. It beats our imagination when a police commissioner will stand up publicly to ascribe such crimes to ethnic nationality.
“However, whichever way we can assist to resolve the issues in Lagos, we are willing to support. But the problem is snowballing into crisis between Ijaws and Yorubas and that is why we are concerned.
“We will not support any negative thing that will be done to destabilise Lagos and its environs because our people are peaceful and law-abiding. We appeal to the Yoruba community, all those who are fanning the ambers of ethnic crisis should stop it. There are some individuals who are behind it and any little thing that happens they want to ascribe it.
“This is just to build bad blood against our people. The government should be very vigilant because just on Wednesday, properties of the Ijaws were destroyed within the outskirts of Lagos because of media propaganda against our ethnic nationality.
“We appeal to the Yoruba people; don’t allow yourselves to be used by people because they just want to create conflict. Conflict in Lagos will never help any of us. We still remember the injuries that were inflicted upon both sides during the OPC-Ijaw crisis.
“Go back and investigate the issues, you will be amazed that one nonsense matter that has no bearing that caused it. Yoruba nation must know that we are their brothers. We share the same aspirations.
“Ijaws will not sit down and say let’s go and destroy Lagos. Lagos share the same terrain with us and we cannot destroy our home because we see Lagos as home.
“We see Ogun as home. Let’s not be deceived into an unnecessary conflict. The security agencies are to be blamed. They should go and do their jobs. The waterways should be policed properly.”
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