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Fresh Crisis Looms As Ijaws Mark Invasion of Gbaramatu Kingdom

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, (THEWILL) â€' Fresh crisis is looming in Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.

The development is coming even as the indigenes remembered the May 15, 2009 invasion of Gbaramatu Kingdom by officers and men of the Joint Task Force (JTF).

The people said the destruction of their communities, with the evidence still feasible for all to see, is a sad reminder of the military offensive against the people five years ago.

Lamenting that despite the huge oil resources in the area, their communties which were destroyed and reduced to debris during the 2009 military offensive against militants have remained undeveloped up till today.

The people are now expressing fear that if urgent steps are not taken to address the vexing issues, a repeat of the Warri-Gbaramatu's crisis may rear its ugly head over the role of the Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, in the $16billion EPZ project which is being proposed in Ogidigben, Warri South West LGA.

A Niger Delta activist, Dr. Bello Oboko, expressed the pains of the people weekend, saying 'Five years after, all the destroyed communities except Kurutie, remain decimated. Thus, we are still sitting in limbo and the world is watching helplessly. '

Oboko , who was speaking at the fifth anniversary/commemoration of the invasion in which many were killed and scores displaced, listed the communities destroyed during the JTF invasion to include Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Kurutie, Benikurukuru and Kokodiagbene, all Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom.

Oboko said these communities were yet to be rehabilitated, yet another crisis is currently being provoked with the Ogidigben EPZ project, even as he lamented that five years after the incident, oil concerns are gradually pushing Gbaramatu-Ijaw communities into avoidable danger.

He warned of a possible breakdown of law and order in Warri again over the alleged sidelining of Ijaws of Warri South West LGA from the $16bn Ogidigben EPZ project.

'Again, over oil concerns, not less than 335.554hectares of Kpokpo/Okpeleama lands have been acquired for purposes of the Escravos Gas Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Port project yet these people are not being carried along in the scheme of things in the project.

'Consequent upon land revocation/quit notice, most local economies have been dislocated and there has been nagging hunger and huge humanitarian crisis in the affected communities,' Oboko said.

'Worse still, there is no visible consideration for payment of compensation by government.

'The pains the people are subjected to the most uncomplimentary plan of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan administration's desire to finish strong.'

He warned that if not properly addressed soon, the land revocation exercise carried out by Governor Uduaghan for the EPZ project may provoke fresh crisis that may trigger a repeat of the Warri creek war of 2009.

'While we commemorate the war in the creeks today in 2014, we are using this opportunity to appeal for avoidance of a repeat of 'acts of genocide' perpetuated against the good people of Gbaramatu kingdom,' he however pleaded.

Recalling how the 'war' broke out five years ago, Oboko, who is President of the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC), said: 'The unfortunate war broke out in the creeks May 15, 2009 over Chevron/US oil concerns along Chanomi creeks in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.'

According to him, the leader of the Ijaw nation , Chief Edwin Clark, had described the attack as 'genocide', saying 'the Nigerian military, at the instance of late former President Musa Yar'Adua, deployed warship, five helicopter gun-crafts, 14 gunboats and 7,000 troops to attack the Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West area of Delta State.'