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Itsekiri leaders angry with Jonathan for postponing EPZ groundbreaking again

By The Citizen
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Chairman of Ogidigben Interface Committee on the Export Processing Zone, EPZ, Delta State, Mr Austin Oboroegbeyi and other Itsekiri leaders, came very hard on President Goodluck Jonathan for failing again to perform the groundbreaking of the EPZ project slated for yesterday. Oboroegbeyi told journalists that 'Mr President's failure, again, to keep his promise to perform the groundbreaking of the Ogidigben EPZ project rescheduled for today (yesterday) is, to say the least, disappointing and embarrassing.'

Secretary of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILOT, Mr Edward Ekpoko, who reacted to same, said it was surprising that no official reason had been given for the failure of the groundbreaking to take place. But an Ijaw youth leader, Mr Paul Bebenimibo, said: 'The March 16 date for the Gas City and the Deep Sea Port groundbreaking was tentative.

'Therefore, the Itsekiri should not trouble themselves over the issue. Mr President is committed to the project and, of course, the groundbreaking. Some of us are tired of the Itsekiri's frequent statements that they will not vote Mr President if the groundbreaking ceremony is not performed before the election. They should know that the issue is not just performing the groundbreaking, but having a peaceful atmosphere for the project to continue.

'Mr President did not approve the March 16 date. It was a tentative date that did not work out. They should give him time to come up with a suitable date before the election.' Meanwhile, the Itsekiri nation has said that the attack on Ogidigben, host of the $16 billion Export Processing Zone, EPZ, by Ijaw youths, last weekend, was part of the larger agenda of the Ijaw ethnic group to annihilate the Itsekiri, which President Jonathan is allegedly pursuing.

Secretary of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Mr. Ekpoko, said: 'The Itsekiri nation knew about this agenda for a very long time and Jonathan is part of it.' He spoke amid report that there has been tension in some riverine communities in the affected area in the past three days over the unprovoked violence with some people thinking that the Itsekiri may carry out a reprisal attack.

Ekpoko, said: 'If the masterminds of this attack are not brought to book, the Itsekiri people will drag President Jonathan to the International Criminal Court. This is not going to be like previous attacks on Itsekiri communities by the Ijaw in 1997 after which nothing was done.'

Chairman, Sokebolou/Yokri People's Congress, Burutu Local Government Area, Mr. Bob Towei, who confirmed that there was tension in the creeks over the gunshots and explosions on the EPZ ground, said: 'We are not surprised that explosions and gunshots rocked the proposed EPZ land because we have called on the governor to reconvene a meeting of all stakeholders, but he did not.'