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BUNDU WATER FRONT SHOOT-OUT, AN UNFORTUNATE DEVELOPMENT ON THE ROAD TO PEACE IN RIVERS STATE –RIVERS STATE AC

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

The Rivers State AC is unreservedly condemning yesterday's unfortunate incident at the Bundu waterside in PH, where an unprovoked JTF attack on hapless demonstrators including women and residents of the area was carried out. It is indeed a sad commentary coming closely at the heels of the supposedly peaceful conclusion of the amnesty exercise in the Niger Delta Region.

The JTF's disorderly conduct has once again proven what has been the AC's consistent grouse with this group's role in the region which abinitio at the onset of its commission was to keep peace in the region and quell hostilities in the most professional manner.

The residents of Bundu Waterside like their counterparts in the Njemanze and Abonnema waterfronts, no doubt had a legitimate claim to protest, by way of peaceful demonstration against the proposed plan by government to demolish the waterfront area to give way for viable economic and commercial development in the area. The rationale being that like in the case of the latter communities mentioned above, there would be an official move to negotiate for due compensation before enumeration commences. It therefore comes as sour news that Mr. George Theodore the SA to the Governor on Urban Renewal, did not go through this same due process adopted by Hon. Osima Ginah, Commissioner of Urban Development in handling the Njemanze and Abonnema waterfronts in his handling of the Bundu waterfront and thereby saving the State government and its leadership from the embarrassment stemming from the awkward incident of yesterday?

No rational observer or bystander can dispute the good intentions of the Amaechi led Government of Rivers State in its current drive to return sanity to the major waterfronts in the city of Port Harcourt. What we at the AC fail to understand though, is why the government should choose to be hasty in its action in Bundu ?, instead of paying attention to the Njemanze and Abonnema waterfronts and begin development of a model that will serve as an example of what its true intentions are. Why would the government want to embark on actions that will threaten the hard earned peace in the state?

This notwithstanding, we reiterate our support for the Government's plan to develop the waterfronts and use this opportunity to call for wide support not only in this regard, but also in the implementation of policies and programs that will enhance the development of our State and bring about the much sought for dividends of democracy.

Without mincing words though, we want to sound a warning that yesterday's incident in which reports have it that there was actually return fire from residents of the area in retaliation to the JTF's hostilities, exposes one salient but sad fact that cache of arms and ammunition are still in circulation following the disarmament process that was a part of the amnesty exercise. It is also unfortunate that by their retaliation, the residents have given credence to government's rationale that the waterfronts are haven of criminals, serving also as arms depots and should therefore be demolished to pave way for peaceful development in the State.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Publicity Secretary, Rivers State AC.