Niger Delta leaders of the six South South states on Sunday, June 5, 2016, condemned the continuous military occupation of the region, saying the presence of the military in the coastal communities has dispersed their people, sending some into the forest while the whereabouts of some are yet to be ascertained.
The Ijaw leaders who converged in Warri, Delta State, were drawn from the 78 Ijaw clans, traditional institutions and socio-political groups from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Rivers States.
In the enlarged meeting where the people aired their grievances over the action of the federal government in the ongoing crisis in the region, the leaders revealed that they refused to attend the Ogoni clean-up programme organized by the federal government, saying the federal government cannot be killing their people with soldiers and expect them to honour invitations for Ogoni clean up flag off.
The Ijaw leaders condemned the use of violence by both civilians and the federal government and urged parties to the crisis to respect the sanctity of human lives, livelihood, economy, culture and environment of the Ijaw people.
The leaders who reviewed the action of the militants in the region, however, noted that the Niger Delta Avengers have destroyed critical infrastructure and much oil installations in the region.
Displaced women and children from several Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu kingdom who escaped the onslaught by soldiers also used the occasion to narrate their ordeals in the hands of soldiers at the meeting.
The meeting which was at the instance of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, revealed humanitarian crisis in several communities including Oporoza, Kunukunu-Amu, Okokodiagbene, Benikruku, Kurutie, Okerekolo, Naifor, Azakrama, Kenghangbene, Igoba and several others.
In his contribution, INC secretary, Bello Orubebe said many Ijaw people could not be accounted for up till now as their whereabouts cannot be ascertained.
“As we speak several Ijaw people cannot be accounted for and their whereabouts including state as to whether they are alive or dead cannot be ascertained.
“Our people are starving and being molested without recourse to minimum international human rights standards in law enforcement.
“Ijaw children who went to write NECO are stranded and several of our people are in the forest and the wounded unattended to. The situation is dire,” he said.