-Says Gbaramatu, Niger Delta, at war with no one
-Military should not breach the existing peace in the region
A global peace advocate, Amb. Shedrack Agediga, Special Assistant to the Delta State Governor, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on Conflict Resolution has urged the Nigeria military to immediately stop the ongoing military siege in the Kingdom.
Amb. Agediga made the call yesterday in a press statement issued to newsmen in Warri, a copy of which was sent to The Liberator Newspaper.
Agediga, recipient of the Nelson Mandela centenary award in 2018 had wondered on the military siege of Gbaramatu Kingdom, stressing that the kingdom is at war with no one and that the movement of such heavily harmed gunboats and sometimes helicopters is unnecessary and uncalled for.
The global peace icon had maintained that the entire Niger Delta region is at war with no one as the memories of the 2009 bombardment still lingers in the minds of the people.
According to him, “Till date, the people are still traumatized over the 2009 bombardment, we will never as Niger Deltans fold our hands to watch it replay itself again in whatever form”.
However, Shedrack had cautioned the Nigeria military not to breach the existing peace in the Niger Delta region, adding that peaceful approach should always be used in resolving issues if there are any.
It would be recalled that Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, was attacked by the military Joint Task Force (JTF) with helicopters equipped with machine guns on Friday, May 15, 2009. In the attack, several communities, including Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Kurutie, Benikrukru, Kokodiagbene, Igoba and Azama were totally burnt down.
Government then promised to rebuild the communities situated along the Atlantic Ocean where American and Anglo-Dutch oil giants, Chevron-Texaco and Shell, have their operations. Shell has four flow stations in Jones Creek, the biggest in West Africa, Egwa, Odidi I and Odidi II, while Chevron-Texaco has flow stations at Abiteye (Keyangbene Flow station) and Makarava (Utunana).
Despite government promise to rebuild the communities after Niger Delta warlord, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo, and his followers embraced Federal Government’s amnesty programme initiated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Years after, the invasion, many of the infrastructure destroyed by the JTF are yet to be fixed by the government while all the projects initiated to cushion the effects of the invasion have been abandoned. The construction of Kokodiagbene-Pepeama-Okerenkoko Road and the re-building of destroyed houses were done by the Delta State government. A development that had led to frustration of many affected persons.
On Friday, May 15, 2009, the people of Gbaramatu kingdom had gathered in Oporoza community, the ancestral headquarter of the kingdom for a yearly festival. It was on that day the JTF invaded the communities, leaving hundreds of persons dead and properties worthing billions of naira were destroyed.
Nevertheless, in 2016, Gbaramatu Kingdom was invaded again by the military but this time, HIGH CHIEF Thomas Osen Ekpemupolo, 84-year-old father of Tompolo amputated in July, a month after soldiers allegedly brutalized him in Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, he died as a result of the military brutality meted out on him.
Meanwhile, the peace expert, had told the federal government not to break the peace accord signed with Niger Deltans, stressing that a deviation from such is not a good idea.
He had, however, described the ongoing military siege in Gbaramatu as worrisome, adding that it has a far reaching effect to other Niger Delta settlements. He had wondered on what the military could possibly want this time around.