Crisis looms in Bayelsa communities over location of military houseboat

A Niger Delta community in Bayelsa


• ‘External forces, FG behind militants’ threats to renewed hostilities’
• Navy cautions Niger Delta Avengers

A major crisis looms in Amatu II Community in Ekeremor Local Council of Bayelsa State, as it has threatened a showdown with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the military authorities.

The community said it was not happy with the proposed plan by SPDC and its contractor, Saidel Nigeria Limited, to station a military houseboat at the boundary between the community and Bilabiri 1 & II communities to secure one of its projects.

In a petition in Yenagoa, the community insisted that SPDC’s and the military’s action was capable of causing crisis in the area and would fight to resist it.

The community also argued that the sheer magnitude of security presence being contemplated in the area was capable of causing panic and unrest among the people.

They stressed that such move will further heighten the tension in the area, as the Amatu II and Bilabiri 1 and II communities had been involved in land and supremacy tussle in the past.

In the petition signed by Amatu II community leader, Chief Paul Oweipade, and sent to the state government and security agencies, they called on the state government to intervene and prevail on SPDC, Saidel Nigeria Limited and the people of Bilabiri to relocate their security apparatuses to the project site in the interest of peace.

“None of the benefitting communities of the onshore side of the project have a settlement along the estuary approaching part of the Dodo River, which primary settlers are of Iduwini extraction namely, Ibegbene, Agoliyo-Ama, Ngodia-ama, Bisangbene 1, Bisangbene 2, Ikeka-ama, Aku-ama, Amatu 1, Amatu 2, Igunugbene, Pasanty-Ama, Lagos-Ama, Abadiyuo, among others.

“We are, therefore, calling on concerned stakeholders in the area to wade in, to avoid plunging communities along the Dodo River into another communal crisis.

“We are constrained to make these complaints because we will not allow any security apparatus in the guise of providing security for their companies and cronies to suppress our people, which we shall resist with the last drop of our blood.”

In a related, the immediate President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Udengs Eradiri, has revealed that some external forces and the Federal Government were behind the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).Eradiri, who said the FG were aware of all the schemes, faulted the government’s handling of the agitations of the militant group, saying that agitations arose from long years of underdevelopment, neglect, lack of equity and insincerity, among other challenges.

He noted that although he did not believe in the agitations, he was in total support of the Avengers, adding that violent agitations was the only language the Federal Government understood.

He added that to resolve the challenges in the region, the government has to show more commitment and seriousness in addressing the remote and immediate causes of the agitations.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has warned the Avengers to stay off violence, saying nobody could threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria.Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ekwe Ibas, who gave the warning yesterday at the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Calabar, Cross River State while interacting with officers and men of the command.He said the Navy would continue to do what they have to do to ensure peace in the country’s waterways.



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