Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A group, Embasara Foundation, has called on Governor Seriake Dickson and former governor Timipre Sylva to forge a common front to halt further political killings in Ijawland.
Acting Chairman of the group, Ayakeme Whiskey, in a press conference he addressed in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, lamented the killings in various Ijaw communities during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Whiskey, who raised the alarm, said there are plans for reprisal by families that lost their loved ones during the presidential and National Assembly elections, in Oweikorogha community in Southern Ijaw local government area of the state. He pleaded with Dickson “to rise above partisanship and prevent the recourse to self-help by aggrieved members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).”
He also called on Sylva to “stop APC thugs from killing and maiming innocent people and spilling blood in Ijawland, in the name of elections.”
The group, which condemned the killing of youths and soldiers in Abonnema, said it is “appalled at the unrestricted importation and stockpile of arms in Ijaw communities.
“As a group, we are deeply worried and except there is an urgent intervention by the Federal Government, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to retract the presidential order to shoot ballot box snatchers, we cannot guarantee an end to election-related killings in Ijawland. As we speak, nobody can predict the scale of extra-judicial killings the Ijawland could witness in the name of chasing political thugs, if president Buhari doesn’t act swiftly. The Ijawland cannot and shall not accept further bloodletting and killings. Political appointees should realise they will all retire to their villages soon after their tenures. Must they kill everybody in their communities in the name of politics before the end of their tenures?” he wondered.
Meanwhile, the people of Opu-Nembe (Nembe Bassambiri), Nembe local government area have staged a protest to kick against alleged intimidation of the people of the community and calls for postponement of Saturday’s elections because of insecurity.
A group of women had, on Monday, cried out to president Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the forthcoming House of Assembly election in the troubled community.
Spokesperson of the women, Mrs. Sotonye Samuel-Johnson, said in a statement, that the call to postpone the election in the violence-ridden community was necessary to safeguard the life and property of women and children in the area.
However, in a counter protest, protesters, including women and youths, armed with placards and inscriptions such as “It is not a crime to vote APC, Toru Orua is for PDP, Nembe-Bassambiri is for APC, Seven years in office, no single project in Nembe-Bassambiri, Bayelsa Police is PDP, Nembe-Bassambiri says no to intimidation and oppression and Buhari save APC members in Opu-Nembe.” The protesters said they would resist attempts to cow them from voting their choices in the state Assembly election.
Deputy Chairman of Council of Chiefs, Agent Belele Ekene, who took newsmen round the community, said those peddling reports of insecurity in the community do not mean well for the people.
“Opu-Nembe is peaceful as you can see. There is no tension or problem here like some people are saying. Everybody is going about their normal business. Those peddling reports of crisis in the community are lairs. Those who said there was no election in the community are also lying. As you can ascertain by yourself, the people are at peace with one another in the community.
“Those who are not from the community are saying we have problems, but this is not true,” he said.