Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri and the leadership of the umbrella body of Ijaw Youths Worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) have declared their support for the ongoing protests in Yenagoa, the State capital and other parts of the country against police brutality exemplified by the hashtags #EndSARS and #EndSWAT.
The protesters comprising of professionals and youth bodies commenced their protest march from Tombia roundabout marching through Melford Okilo road to the Government House where they were received by Diri who marched with them to the Bayelsa Police Command Headquarters.
Diri while addressing the protesters declared that his administration would not condone acts that infringed on the fundamental rights of citizens in the state.
According to him being a firm advocate against all forms of police brutality, he moved motions as a federal legislator against extra-judicial killings and illegal detention in the state.
“In 2016, I moved a motion as member of the House of Representatives against extra-judicial killings in Bayelsa. Also, in 2018, I moved another motion in the House for the release of one Collins Opumie from Southern Ijaw that was arrested by the DSS and detained in an underground cell for many years until it came to my knowledge. He was eventually released after that motion”.
“So, I am one hundred per cent in support of you. In a democracy, power belongs to the people. Power belongs to you the youths. You have every right to protest and nobody can stop you from protesting,” he told the cheering crowd”.
The umbrella body of Ijaw Youths Worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) have insisted that the ongoing EndSARS protest is a metaphor for a structured Nigeria and not just an end to police brutality.
The IYC through its Spokesman, Mr Ebilade Ekerefe commended the undying spirits of the Nigerian youths in ensuring that the country is habitable for all and appeal to them to stay focused on the course and not derail no matter the provocations by retrogressive forces.
In his words “Ijaw Youths Council are very much concerned over the ongoing nationwide EndSARS protests and we are monitoring the unfolding events as a region and take appropriate action in days to come.For us in the IYC, the EndSARS protest is a metaphor for a restructured and reorganized Nigeria and there is no better time than now.Now is the time to bring back the 2014 National CONFAB report for its full implementation in the interest of peace, unity and political stability in the country”.
“This is not the time to joke with things that matters. President Muhammadu Buhari has an opportunity to make history, an history that will consume us or an history that will reposition the country for excellence and become a statesman after power. This nationwide protest is coming at a time the people of the Niger Delta are been provoked with the sale of N5 billion gold bar to the CBN by the Zamfara state government when the people of the Niger Delta have no access or control to our oil and gas mineral resources. Our ecosystem upon which our livelihood depends on is completely destroyed as a result of oil spillage and gas flaring which has greatly affected the life expectancy rate of our people, yet the government don’t care”.
“Sadly, instead of addressing this challenges by reviewing the obnoxious laws which has rendered us incapacitated, the federal government is rather making further attempts to forcefully take over our water ways through the obnoxious water resource bill just like they did with the land use act. We have resisted it and we shall continue to resist it”.
“However, it gladdens our heart that the so called lazy youths have risen up to challenge the status-quo which has made us live like animals in our country. In the days ahead, the Ijaw Youths Council in consultation with critical leaders from the region will decide the best course of action as we match towards a well-organized and well-structured country”