PRESS STATEMENT DELIVERED ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2019, D-LINE, PORTHARCOURT.
Kalabari-Ijaw MothersAnd Daughters Condemn Abonnema/Niger Delta People Terrorization, Killings,
We, the mothers and daughters of KALABARI-IJAWNationality have gathered here today, in deep sadness and mourning to register tothe people of Rivers State, the Niger Delta, Nigeria and the world, our deepdistress, pain and anger over developments in our beloved ancestral home Abonnema,in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rivers State, which played out onSaturday, February 23, 2019 during the Presidential and National AssemblyElections.
We are equally deeply pained at the needless deathsthat occurred in other parts of the state, including Asarama, Oweikorogha,Bayelsa State as well as incidents of electoral violence in several otherstates of the Niger Delta and country.
Certainly, many of you like millions of people aroundthe world watched the video/audio clip of the horrific shootings, bodiesdropping on Abonnema’s main street that trended on social media and is stillbeing shared all over the world.
By the time the day was over, several young personshad been killed. Also, a Lieutenant of the Nigeria Army was reportedly gunneddown in the intense shooting of that day. A young daughter of Kalabari-Ijawstock, a mother of two, Ibisaki Amachree on her way to deliver electoralmaterials, was also killed in Degema on that day. Several other yetunidentifiable persons were also killed and many more injured.
From that Saturday to Sunday, Abonnema was placed on amilitary lock down. Community based persons and others who had come in to vote,found themselves terrorized, denied basic freedoms in their ancestral land, foundedand developed by their noble Kalabari Ijaw ancestors, long before Nigeriabecame an entity and a yoke on their necks.
We condemn totally these deaths, violence and theresultant denial of the Abonnema people, the right to participate in peacefulelections to have a determining voice in who leads them, as affirmed bydemocratic practice in modern society.
Our preliminary investigations place responsibilityfor the massacre to the importation and deployment of strange armed thugs andheightened military presence in the community. We have since learnt that thedesecration of Abonnema, pointless deaths of her young was part of a granddesign to deliver the community, A PDP stronghold to the All Progress Congress,APC.
Also culpable is Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportationwho had made statements during the February 12, 2019 APC rally in PortHarcourt, threatening violence.
We, the Mothers and Daughters gathered here, among otherintellectuals of Niger Delta extraction, have been part of the Niger Deltastruggle for Resource ownership and control, development, equity, justice andself determination. On the contrary, none of the government functionaries mentionedat the centre of the Abonnema violence and others has ever spoken up for theKalabari-Ijaw or Niger Delta peoples in their travails over the years.
KaiamaVocational Center Looting And Associated Fraud
We hereby also, call for forensic investigations intothe troubling looting of the Presidential Amnesty Programme,PAP VocationalSkill Acquisition Centre Kaiama, Bayelsa State, purportedly by local people ofIjaw extraction from Monday February 11 – Friday February 15, 2019. We draw theattention of all, to the huge questions which persist about this depressingincident with photos going viral on social media. Kaiama is the hometown ofIjaw revolutionary, Isaac Adaka Boro.
These questions include confounding details of how aFederal Government facility, was left open for looting for 5 to 6 days from MondayFebruary 11, 2019 without any effort made to order security intervention toarrest the looting. Presently, no evidence exists of a police report on thedays long looting.
Central to these developments is an emerging clarityof intent to cover fraud linked to empowerment items, claimed to have been suppliedand which cannot be traced.
Kaiama, the town which also was the location for thefamous Kaiama Declaration of 1998, the Ijaw Youth document of demands to theNigerian State, has been desecrated by the organized fraud disguised ascommunity persons looting a government facility.
We, as Ijaw Mothers and Daughters vehemently denouncethis narrative of Ijaw people as common thieves and looters. It is not in ourcharacter to steal. Izon, our name and identity means truth.
In view of the foregoing, we, Kalabari /Ijaw Mothersand Daughters, make the following observations, assertions and demands:
- We condemn theviolence in Abonnema and other places in Rivers State, the rest of Ijaw landand the Niger Delta, where human life was violently, abruptly terminated duringthe February 23 elections.
- We demand thatthe violence and killings be investigated and criminal proceedings commenced immediatelyagainst all those found culpable.
- We call on theAbonnema and Kalabari Traditional institution to investigate and place appropriatetraditional sanctions on all persons of Abonnema, Kalabari origin, who fundedand facilitated the violence and killings in Abonnema.
- We reassert our demandfor the Restructuring of Nigeria. Once the process of restructuring isactivated, we insist on the dismantling of all Federal agencies ofunderdevelopment in the Niger Delta as a first step to begin the process ofrebuilding the Nigerian polity, as the only sustainable path to peace, securityand development, in what is an otherwise failed country, Nigeria.
In place of these federal agencies ofunderdevelopment, among them the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP, NigerDelta Development Commission, NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, wecall on the governors of the Niger Delta states to work jointly to create withfull uninterrupted funding with Niger Delta Resources, home grown alternativeagencies for Human and Infrastructural development, Youth Education /Vocational Skills/Business set up agencies, managed by Niger Delta peoples. Ascorollary to this, we call for Secondary School and University scholarships toall children of the Niger Delta.
As people of the Niger Delta, we seriouslyobject to the declaration of Rivers State and the Niger Delta as a war zone atevery election. It is bad enough that the region is heavily militarized toprotect the Federal government interest in oil, an interest not matched withdevelopment of the oil bearing communities.
We, Mothers and Daughters ofKalabari/Ijaw hereby affirm our age long preference and campaigns for therestructuring of Nigeria as the way out of the violent scramble for powerduring elections and decades long massive looting of resources of Ijaw land andthe Niger Delta, and the callous neglect of the needs and aspirations of theordinary citizen.
The Violence Must Stop Now! Restructuring, Only Pathto Tread!