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Militants Demand 4 LGAs For Ijaw In Edo, Delta

Militants Demand 4 LGAs For Ijaw In Edo, Delta


Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt

NIGER Delta rebels who are locked in armed struggle with the Nigerian State over alleged continued socio-economic, political, and environmental injustice against the peoples of the oil and gas region by both the federal and state governments, have started to state their terms for a ceasefire.

At the creeks of Edo State over the weekend, militants under the banner of the Niger Delta Freedom Fighters, told the visiting Niger Delta Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee (NDPGRC), a presidential panel led by Senator David Bngidi, that they were prepared to play ball with the Umar –Yar’Adua administration on some vital conditions.

They are pressing for the creation of four local government areas for the Ijaw people in Delta and Edo states. Three of the new councils demanded are to be in Edo, and the other in Delta.

The demand for the creation of the four-concil areas was made at their camp at Egbema I, in Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo state.

Spokesman for the freedom fighters, Jackson Ikinibor, told the Brigidi panel that the three new council areas they want for the Ijaws in Edo state are Egbema-Okomu, Olodiama, and Furupagha,, while the only one for Delta state is Delta Egbema.

“ The Ijaws in Edo and Delta states are neglected, unidentified, and grossly marginalized’’, they said.

At the moment, they are claiming that the Ijaws in Ovia North-East, and Ovia South-West Local Government Areas of Edo state as well as those of Warri North Local Government Area of Delta state, “ are made perpetual minorities” where they have found themselves.

Continuing, they claimed that the only thing that could make them to stop further hostilities, is to bring the Ijaws together under four separate administrative units as demanded by them.

Adding, the militants said, ‘’in demanding for the creation of the four local government areas, we are aiming to achieve five things to the Ijaw people in the affected areas. These five things are, bringing government nearer to them, ensuring even development, enabling them to develop at their own pave and be together as a people, minimizing hostager taking, ethnic conflict, crisis and agitations, and enabling them to have deep sense of belonging rather than being treated as second-class citizens’’.

Responding, chairman of the visiting presidential panel, Senator Brigidi, said they were aware of the challenges facing the coastal commuters in Edo state. We are of the view that it is time to find lasting solution to the challenges facing them, “ Brigidi said.

According to Brigidi, “ this committee, the Niger Delta Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, is here on the directive of President Umar Yar’Adua . Mr. President sent us to come and talk with you with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problems in the creeks. From what we have seen so far, your area just like all the other coastal communities, are in urgent need of all the good things of life like access roads, schools, healthcentres/ hospitals, good drinking water, jetties, electricity, among others.

“But all these good things of life cannot come in a state of violence. Mr. President is pleading for an atmosphere of peace in the whole of the Niger Delta to enable his administration address the perculiar needs of individual communities, “ the committee Chairman added.

While assuring the freedom fighters that their demand for the creation of four new council areas would be made Known to the authorities, Brigidi whose panel was inangurated by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan on July 2, 2007, urged the militants to cooperate with them.

With Birigidi on the weelend visits to militant camps in Edo and Ondo states, were the committee secretary, Kingsley Kuku, John Amadi, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) representing the Nigeria Police in the panel, and his State Security Service (SSS) counterpart, Duke Fubara.

Meanwhile, Journalists for Niger Delta (JODEL), a media group concerned with the affairs of the oil and gas region, who are on tour with the presidential panel reports that the area the militants are demanding for the four council areas for the Ijaw people comprises a network of creeks with swamp forests with intermittent land areas in Okomu, Ofunama, Ajakurama, Gelegele, Opuama /Polobobar, Ogbinbiri / Ogbudugbudu, and Safarogbo forest areas.

According to JODEL, “ the Ijaw people in the four local government areas being demanded by the Niger Delta freedom fighters, appears to be living in the same geographical area contiguous to one another. Their custom, tradition and interest also seem to be common”,

The presidential panel is expected to move to the creeks of Bayelsa state, on Tuesday, November 27. Going by their Schedules, the Brigidi panel is billed to engage the militant, community, and group leaders there for three days with a view to charting a road map for a ceasefire deal.

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