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Nigerian Military Condones Killings of Soldiers in the North, But Aggressively Go After Ijaw Leaders, Communities – IYC

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LAGOS, Nigeria — The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has voiced serious concerns over what it describes as ongoing harassment and unjust treatment of the Ijaw people in Nigeria, particularly in light of recent events involving military actions in the Niger Delta.

The arrest of Amb. Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, a revered Ijaw leader, and the death of two of his associates during a military raid in Osokun, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, has sparked outrage among the community.

According to a statement released by IYC spokesman Amb. Binebai Yerin Princewill on Friday, April 12, 2024, the incident occurred when military personnel, equipped with vans and an armored personnel carrier, stormed Jackrich’s residence.

The council emphasised that such actions not only disrupt peace but are also seen as targeted aggression towards key Ijaw figures.

The whereabouts of Jackrich, following his arrest, remain unknown, intensifying concerns about his safety and the legality of the military’s actions.

“The incessant invasion, harassment, and arrest of Ijaw sons and leaders under unclear circumstances suggest a pattern of discrimination against the Ijaw people, who have long contributed to the nation’s development and should not be treated as second-class citizens,” Princewill stated.

The IYC’s statement also highlighted the arrest of Chief Tike Weris, former Chairman of the Bayelsa Waterways Security, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, with no subsequent information provided about his status, fueling rumours and fear of his possible death in custody.

The statement also criticised the Federal Government’s approach under President Bola Tinubu, pointing to recent negotiations with bandits in the north, which starkly contrasts with the force used in the Niger Delta.

This discrepancy raises concerns about the equitable application of justice and the use of military force across the country.

The IYC has vowed to continue advocating for peace and lawful conduct, emphasizing the importance of addressing crime within the legal framework and respecting human rights.

The council is calling for transparency regarding the circumstances surrounding the arrests and treatment of Ijaw leaders and for the immediate release of those detained without just cause.

“This pattern of aggressive and opaque actions by the military towards Ijaw leaders must be addressed to avoid further escalation and to maintain peace and trust among the communities in the Niger Delta,” concluded Princewill.

The IYC’s call for clarity and justice resonates with ongoing debates about governance, security, and human rights in Nigeria, highlighting the delicate balance between national security and the protection of civil liberties.

For the record, the full statement is published below:

“Nigeria is not a banana republic, Nigeria is a country governed by law, whatever we do must be within the ambit of the law, those meant to protect the law must not be seen breaking the law,” the statement reads.

“Too many Ijaw leaders and critical stakeholders have been killed, harrassed and humiliated in the past few weeks that we are yet to know the reasons behind such attacks and invasions.

“In a similar fashion, One Chief Tike Weris, Former Chairman of Bayelsa Waterways Security was brazenly arrested by the military at The Port-Harcourt International Airport and up till now, there is no single information about his whereabouts and safety.

“In fact rumours have it that he has been killed in custody. We hope that this rumour is not true,” the statement read.

The IYC pledged that it would continue to champion peace movements in Nigeria and Niger Delta.

“We will not forget to draw our attention to certain events similar to the Okuama attack on the military in the North and the perceived response from the Military.

“While we are not against fighting crime in Nigeria, we want this to be done within the ambit of the law.

ATTACKS ON THE MILITARY IN THE NORTH;

1)     36 Nigerian soldiers killed in ambush by bandits – Nasarawa 18/08/2023 (Punch)

2)     Bandits kill 10 soldiers in NDA attack in Kaduna – 5/04/2022 (Al Jazeera)

3)     17 soldiers feared dead as bandits attack Zamfara community – 25/07/23 (Channels)

4)     At least 30 Nigerian soldiers killed in ambush after mine attack in Shiroro Niger state – 3/07/2022 (Reuters)

5)     At least 50 Nigerian soldiers killed in a deadly ambush by suspected Boko Haram gunmen in Yobe state – 24/03/2020 (Premium Times)

6)     A Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian Army and five soldiers have lost their lives in an ambush by the Boko Haram terrorists along Biu-Buni Yadi road, Borno State. April 6th 2024 (Daily Trust).

The noted that It was absurd Nigerian Military cannot only be powerful in the South and Niger Delta and cannot be seen displaying such might in the North that far stronger crimes are committed by insurgents and other criminal elements.

“The IYC is demanding to know the whereabouts of Amb. Chief Sobomabo Jackrich who is a former Rivers State Governorship candidate in the last Governorship election in Rivers State and a critical stakeholder and leader in Ijaw nation.

“Council has also watched the President Bola Tinubu led Federal Government of Nigeria on how the Military recently went to negotiate with bandits for the release of the 137 Kaduna students and in the process also had a handshake with the bandits instead of enforcement of their rights. Only God knows what would have happened if it were to be in the Niger Delta.

“Finally, with the way things are going, the Ijaw people will not be surprised to wake up one day to find out that the military has invaded former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s House.

“This attack on Ijaw leaders is becoming worrisome in the Nigerian State. We demand to know the whereabouts and offence of Sobomabo Jackrich. What is the offence of the Ijaw people in the Nigerian State?”

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