Diri confirms 20 youths dead in Igbomotoru

Bayelsa Governor Douye Diri has visited Igbomotoru community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area after alleged military invasion of the community in search of suspected killers of 17 military personnel in Okuama, Delta State on March 14.

Diri’s visit came one month after the military invaded the riverine community on March 17.

A minute silence was observed in honour of the slain soldiers

The Governor also said that during the invasion of Igbomotoru by military operatives in search of the killers of Army 17, about 20 youths were said to have been killed in Igbomotoru 2 community.

Addressing the leadership and cross section of the community at Igbomotoru Town Hall, Diri condemned the brutal killing of the soldiers, regretting that it was unfortunate that what happened in Delta State was being felt by the people of the community.

He urged the military authorities to continue with painstaking investigation to unveil the killers and their sponsors, adding that all those involved must be brought to book to face the full wrath of the law. 

The Governor who was accompanied by the Commanding Officer 16 Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Yenagoa, Brigadier General Oluremi  Obolo, Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Prof Nibofa Ayawei, Ambassador Boladei Igali and other government officials, warned young people that the era of militancy in Ijaw land was over, adding that what is now obtainable is intellectual engagement.

Diri, who was making his first public statement after the incident commended the military high command for ensuring that what happened in Odi in 1999 did not happen in Igbomotoru community.

He said: “I have come to meet with you the Igbomotoru community that enough is enough. In every season there is a time for everything. The era of militancy is over and this is the era of intellectual engagement; this is what your government is set to do and your government has been doing.

Ijaw people are very intelligent people, we can compete with anybody anywhere in the world, and we should not be seen as cannon folders and this is a warning to all of those who are still cannon folders to have a rethink.

“Your government is establishing schools particularly school with skills acquisition, science and technical colleges even in empowering programmes and we want our youths to key into it and drop your guns.

“Youths cannot take over leadership of the community by force, that is what we have started seeing in our communities and this again will be a warning to all of our traditional rulers, they must stay at home to lead the people and any traditional ruler that is not found in his base, I will promptly remove that traditional ruler.

“And my advice to the military is that they must painstakingly investigate the killings in Okuama to ascertain those that are culpable so that innocent people will not be sacrificed. 

“The truth is what Ijaw people want and those behind the killings in Okuama should be properly investigated and unveil to the Nigerian public. They should face the wrath of the law. That is my humble appeal to the Nigerian military and all the security agencies.

“Those who must have sponsored even the killers should all be brought to book. You cannot imagine soldiers who are actually expected to secure us as civilians being brutally murdered in broad daylight. What are we looking for, is it the oil? 

“Has oil actually become a curse in Ijaw nation rather than a blessing to Ijaw land? Has oil become a curse to Bayelsa State rather than a blessing to the people of Bayelsa State?

“That is why very efficient uncorrupted investigations should be launched; who knows if oil is part of what has led to these killings. We hear it is land issues. Until the investigations are revealed we will not know what truly caused this brutal killing of our security men. Nobody has the powers to take the life of another man.

“We cannot go back to the days of Isaac Adaka Boro, this is a different era. Thank you for your patience and I believe that this will not happen again, not only in Igbomotoru community but in all of our communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State and indeed in Ijaw land.”

The Governor urged the people of Igbomotoru 1 and 2 communities to return home, saying the Nigerian Army had assured the state government of their safety.

Diri had visited the two communities with a high-powered delegation that included the Commander of the Nigerian Army 16 Brigade, Oluremi Obolo, to assess the situation in the area.

Soldiers had been deployed in the communities in search of the masterminds of the March 14 killing of 17 soldiers at Okuama in Delta State.

The Governor announced the provision of relief materials, including cash, 150 bags of rice and 40 bags of garri to be distributed to the people of both communities.

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