Leaders of Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom on Monday, May 9, 2016, raised their voice against the recent vandalisation of pipelines across the area, warning Niger Delta Avengers against making their communities another theatre of war.
This is coming on the heels of the recent destruction of Chevron and NNPC pipelines running through Warri to Kaduna that were blown up by the new militant sect, Niger Delta Avengers.
The community leaders have not forgotten the military attack on the communities in the days when militancy ruled the Niger Delta region running from Rivers through Bayelsa to Delta State.
The leaders, whose communities and means of livelihood were destroyed by the ravaging military officers under the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), are no longer ready to allow soldiers destroy their communities because they have tasted the bitter pills of military actions in the region.
Already, the Nigerian soldiers have been ordered by the president to comb the region and fish out the boys. This is even as the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders have appealed to the youths to sheath their swords as the president is working to meet their 11 point demand “in his own way”.
The community leaders who condemned the multiple attacks on oil installations, urged the perpetrators to desist from the dastardly act and halt giving Gbaramatu Kingdom a bad name and subjecting the indigenes to fear of possible military incursion.
In a statement issued by leaders of Inikorogha community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delt State, Christopher Ejoh and Chief Felix Ejoh, the group expressed concern that the militants were targeting facilities within Gbaramatu Kingdom and other Ijaw localities.
They said that besides the economic sabotage and environmental degradation which the perpetrators were causing the Nigeria state and entire Niger Delta region, the psychological effects on the locals were becoming unbearable.
While they described the attacks as inimical to the socio-economic development of the area and counterproductive to the development plans of the federal government, they wondered why the attackers struck again when major repairs were ongoing on some pipelines earlier blown up.
The leaders express pain over the destructive tendencies of the militants and condemned the attacks in its entirety.
“Our communities should not be a battle field, because we are at peace with Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) and other multinationals around us. NGC in particular, has been of great help to us, the electricity we are enjoying today was provided by them and we have no cause to be in any disagreement with them”, the statement said.
They lamented the destruction of the gas pipelines that were earlier repaired by Ocean Marine Solution in Inikorogha and Bafan communities.
The communities appealed to the company not to be discouraged to terminate the pipeline surveillance job of which some of the communities are beneficiaries.
Besides, they also condemned the sabotaging of the Chevron trunk line in Abiteye, Alero, Dibi, Otunana and Makaraba flow stations, which feed a major Chevron tank farm in Escravos, Warri, saying that there was no reasonable justification for the twin attacks.
The statement however urged the perpetrators to settle their differences with whosoever they have issue with and stop turning the Ijaw communities as theatre of their war.
“We are already subjected to apprehension and fear whenever a pipeline is attacked. Our people no longer sleep with both eyes closed because of fear of the unknown.
“Few days ago, we saw a naval chopper hovering around our communities taking photographs and many people started running into the bushes because they thought the army had come to invade them, so we are appealing to both the perpetrators and the military not to make Gbaramatu a theatre of war again.”
They, however, called on the military to exercise caution in its bid to track down the perpetrators of the heinous act because of the innocent residents living around communities, saying that the army should not by any way make innocent communities culprits in the militant onslaught.