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Armed Youths Dare Bonny Monarch Over ESO Panel

Armed Youths Dare Bonny Monarch Over ESO Panel

BONNY, an Ibani island community of Rivers State, one of the leading oil-producing states in Nigeria, and home to the mega-billion Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) plant, is on the boil again. This time, their rampaging armed youths who were bracing to lay down their arms are on the upbeat over their monarch.

Before now the armed Bonny youths had promised that they will ceasefire if the royal father of the island appears before the Justice Kayode Eso-led Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to clear himself of the violent conflict that has been rocking the area.

But the Bonny monarch, King Edward Asimini Pepple, who was expected on Tuesday to appear before the TRC shunned the Eso panel.

The previous Friday the Eso panel had ordered a subpoena to be issued on the monarch and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Zone 6 in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, and the Rivers State Police Commissioner to appear before it on Tuesday.

They were to explain why Mr. Adonis Pepple, chairman of the Bonny chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria was locked up contrary to the Eso panel agreement with the Bonny people that peace will be made with all the aggrived parties in the crisis-ridden kingdom.

Wadonye Amaibinye, leader of Okoloma Ikpangi, a social revolutionary group, claimed in an interview with our correspondent that they have watched with rapt attention the unfolding drama at the Eso panel concerning the Bonny crisis.

''We have found out that the Amanyanabo ( the Bonny monarch) in council and his council of chiefs are bent on holding unto their high handedness that seek to subject all and sundry to their whims and caprices. We have also watched with dismay genuine efforts to engender peace and reconcile aggrieved parties on the island by the youth and TRC bungled by this same group of persons'', he said.

Continuing, he said, ''with the TRC our hope of stating our side of the story thwarted, we are left with no choice than to take our destiny in our own hand, knowing that they have succeeded in painting us in bad light for protesting against subjugation, denial, affliction and our grievances. What iam saying is that the chiefs and their cohorts should better watch their back. We were impressed and confident in the ability of the Justice Kayode Eso led panel to give a fair hearing and chart the way forward for sustainable peace in Bonny Island, it now apparent it’s not going to happen and we will now do things our own way''.

The stance of the aggrived Bonny youths goes thus:

''The commission having subpoenaed the Amanyanabo and two others to appear before it and the Okoloma Ikpangi a social revolutionary group had hoped that if the Amanyanabo of Bonny King Edward Asimini Wiliam Dappa Pepple had appeared to testify before the panel, we would have sheath our sword, we would have stopped our armed rebellion and further hostilities because the King’s attitude towards his people was the reason why we took up arms in the first place.

''A lot of Bonny people are aggrieved, afflicted and are denied their statutory rights as indigenes resulting from his tyrannical and high handed rule.
We did not involved ourselves in this armed rebellion because we love it, but because they left us with no choice after they hijacked virtually everything because the Bonny tradition bestowed on them so much powers and the Amanyanabo was using same to rule with impunity regardless of the plight of the people he calls his subject, so annoying today that his council today described him as next to God what arrant nonsense, a testimony to the fact that the King doesn’t care a hoot about we mortals since his next to God.

''We would have embraced peace process if government transparently and sincerely grants us amnesty had the Amanyanabo testified.
We meant no harm we were pushed to the wall, and that left us with no choice, we had wanted to appeal to the TRC to make a case for us, so that as stakeholders we can join in the peace process now our hopes are dashed. In that case we want to make a bold statement that we will surely make them explain to us even if they have succeeded in waving off the commission.

''Since we decided to fight our cause by taking our destiny in our own hands, having realized that our King and his council of Chiefs don’t care a hoot about us, the men of the JTF posted to Bonny have been terrorizing my immediate family members and this had painfully led to the untimely death of my mother.

''As i am talking peace now, my elder sister is in the hands of the JTF alongside her little children, on the premise that the Federal Government has issued a directive that all members of my family should be wiped out. This is a clear case of human right violation, I am the culprit they are looking for here, why harass, intimidate and arrest members of my family? I am not the first warlord, I have watched better armed warlords like Ateke, Farah and others engage the government, their families have never been harassed or arrested. I know why they are going to this length, some highly placed persons in Bonny are using the JTF to cover up some of the atrocities they have committed, but I want to state here that it is only a matter of time they will all be exposed.

''On a final note we want to once more call the TRC to let the world know what we are going through, we are, like we said earlier, prepared to down tools if the peace process of granting amnesty is transparent and sincere. We also want to add that militarizing Bonny alone without seeking for other civil solution to solve the crisis will never guarantee the desired peace as many people will still be aggrieved but quiet as a result of the presence of JTF. We have to explore other means to achieve sustainable a peace in Bonny''.

Meanwhile, JTF Spokesman, Lt.-Col Sagir Musa, says the special security outfit is not in any part of Rivers state to harass, intimidate or arrest indiscriminately. According to him, our job is to maintain law and order and to also that no harm was done to the country's economic facilities''/

Musa, however, denied the claim by Amaibinye that his elder sister and children were arrested by soldiers. ''The JTF does not just arrest for arresting sake. We follow due process while carrying out our activities. We arrest suspects for investigation purposes. Those we dont find anything on are always released unconditionally'', he said.


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