Unveiling Of The Report Of “Unreported Human Rights Abuses Before, During And After The Bayelsa 2015 Governorship Elections" On Wednesday August 10, 2016 In Abuja, FCT
Gentlemen of the PRESS, Comrades and compatriots, Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.
We welcome you to this historic event being held today, in realization of our patriotic mandate to continually serve as the conscience of our Nation and it's democratic advancements. We are here as Patriots Sons, Daughters, Friends and Stakeholders of Nigeria, The Niger Delta, Bayelsa State and most importantly Ijaw Nation.
Please note, we are not gathered here to promote any form of partisan political agenda. We are gathered here as lovers of Nigeria, lovers of democracy and lovers of human rights. But much more than that we are gathered here as very concerned Patriots of our beloved nation.
Nigeria is the greatest country in Africa. It is the giant of Africa. Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa and ranks as one of the first, five biggest democracies in the world. What happens in Nigeria must be of utmost concern to the democratic world, because what happens here has a direct impact and ripple effect on other nations, especially the West African sub region and the Gulf of Guinea.
Today we are bringing to the world media and all lovers of Democracy and Human Rights a matter of great concern. We are presenting Report to the World tilted, “Unreported Cases of Human Rights Abuses and The Bayelsa State Governorship Elections, December 2015 and January 2016. By Save the Ijaw Nation- a group, established by observers and participants who were on the ground during the 2015 Bayelsa governorship elections, particularly at the point where the ugly incidences of violence were introduced into the process. This has Report has been an emotional and painful journey because many of us gathered here today, have friends and family members who were directly affected by the carnage, abuse, violence and complete lawlessness captured in this over 200 page report. In March 2016, when we completed investigations and sealed the pages of this Report, we were inundated with more cases, we more victims, more families were crying out for justice. This report therefore represents a fraction of the violence that was unleashed on an unsuspecting people.
As I speak to you today -there are Internally Displaced Camps, IDP, camps in Bayelsa State. The only South-South State with IDP camps in Southern Nigeria. There are hundreds of people who cannot go home, people who have been displaced. There are people who are live in fear of being killed - because their communities have been taken over and occupied by criminals. Their houses destroyed, their loved ones killed. The photos and depressing narratives are all captured in this Report. We are the voice of these people. People whose fundamental human rights have been forcefully taken away from them. Their cries is contained in this Report. Their pain is also contained in a Video documentary that will soon be released to the public. December 2015 and in January 2016, Governorship elections were conducted in Bayelsa State.
We all knew it was going to be keenly contested. It was for that reason several Peace meetings were organized for the gubernatorial candidates. However what we did not anticipate were the deaths, the hundreds of victims with bullet wounds and machete cuts and the hundreds of displaced persons and damaged properties. This Report would not have been necessary if the Federal Government with its Law Enforcement Agencies and Security Forces had investigated these cases arrested, prosecuted, tried and punished. The perpetrators and their sponsors this orgy of violence and Human Rights Abuses. But rather what we witnessed was an active connivance between agents of the Federal Government and perpetrators of these heinous Human Rights Violations. Even after the elections, the President Buhari led Federal Government worked hard to conceal these atrocities. The sponsors of these Human Rights abuses and violations are members and major stakeholders of the present Government. If they had known we were compiling this Report, they would have tried to stop us. This Report has unmasked them, their names have all been written in this pages. The Media, Human Rights Organizations and Civil Society groups should go to them and ask them to account for the things contained in this Report.
Never in the history of Nigeria have we witnessed such violations of People's Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as we have witnessed under administration. What is most worrying is and everybody is afraid to talk about these things because nobody wants to become a target, nobody wants to be arrested or detained on trumped up charges. But we must speak out. The world must hear of what is happening in Nigeria. The world media must hear Unreported cases of Human Rights Abuses going on in Africa's biggest democracy. The world must rescue Nigeria. We have not just compiled a faceless Report, a lot of us here participated in the Bayelsa State Governorship elections as stakeholders and active participants. A lot of us were in Bayelsa State as election observers and monitors.
We were caught in the midst of the violence, we were physically present and were witnesses. We carried out on the spot assessments of the carnage that occurred. A lot of the pictures in this Report are not new. Go to the internet, you will see a lot of them on Social Media. We shared them on Facebook, we twitted them to millions of people around the world. Victims wrote petitions and letters to the Nigerian Police Force and to the President of Nigeria himself but nothing happened. It is because of the injustice and the apparent aiding and abetting of this crimes by this government, that we decided to compile this Report for, The International Criminal Court at the Hague, Amnesty International United Kingdom, The United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights, National Human Right Commission other Human Rights Organizations and Civil society groups This Report has more than Bayelsa State Election Violence, it has researched into the sources harbingers and progenitors of this violence - these are people, groups and sponsored criminal gangs walking free. Some are of these people are politicians working in President Buhari's government. This Report has unearthed the sponsorship of a group like Operation Famou Tangbei (OFT) and the high profile murders they have been accused of, this group came under the attention of the State Department of the United States of America. This Report orders the investigation, arrests and immediate prosecution of all those connected to these criminal gangs.
The presentation of this Report to the world is very timely. We have other elections in Nigeria coming up before Nigeria's next General Elections in 2019. We have elections in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Anambra States and re-runs in Rivers State. This Report has been presented to warn the world at what may occur in these elections, if we are to use Bayelsa State as our example. This Report is bringing Nigerian elections under the scrutiny of the International community. We are saying, it is not enough for foreign observers to sit in our cities and monitor these elections. They have to be embedded among law enforcement agents to observe and take note of their neutrality or culpability. They have to be embedded in INEC to observe and take note of votes being counted. Their active presence would have forestalled the violence we witnessed in Bayelsa State. Ninety Five percent (95%) of these violence occur in the rural areas by sponsors, their agents and the active connivance of law enforcement agencies. We are asking for a new robust strategy by foreign observers, a strategy that involves - training, engaging and being embedded among election officials.
We are convinced that the implementation of the recommendations of this Report will deter the perpetrators of violence, their sponsors and law enforcement agencies from destroying our democracy and the nation of Nigeria. Finally we urge the world to remember the displaced people of Peremabri community in Bayelsa State. They are the real victims, among them are the dead. Since January 2016, they have been living in an IDP camp in Bayelsa State. We urge the world media to visit Peremabri IDP camp in order to authenticate the claims in this Report. The Following are our recommendations:
There is a Human Rights crisis in Nigeria. Since the government of President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 29th 2015, thousands of people are being exposed to danger because of belonging to the opposition political parties. During recent elections they are being hunted down, maimed, kidnapped, raped, dispossessed and murdered, and the perpetrators, who are mostly members of the ruling party are going unpunished. Nigeria’s government under President Buhari urgently needs to protect the lives and properties of members of the citizens and opposition political parties who now constitute a vulnerable and endangered group in the country.
THE MURDER OF MRS GODGIFTS SON, MASTER ISAAC GODGIFT Master Isaac Godgift was a young man who disappeared on January the 10th, 2016. He was from Peremabri community in Southern Ijaw. On the day he disappeared he was with friends in the community for the elections. Suddenly there was an ambush by one Mr. Ogunboss and his boys. Master Godgift ran into the bush and disappeared. A few days afterwards his headless body was found floating in a nearby river. The Nigerian Police Force have refused to investigate the murder of Master Isaac Godgift or those who were shot at and left destitute in an IDP camp. T
HE MURDER OF MR ABULE: Mr Abule was a PDP agent. On Sunday December 6, 2015, after the voting exercise on December 5th 2015, he was returning home with others from Oporoma, when his boat was ambushed by two boats carrying APC thugs between Agobiri and Angamabri. They were shot at sporadically their boat sank. Mr. Abule died of gunshot wounds and his corpse was found in a river. Again the Nigerian Police have refused to bring charges against the perpetrators of this murder. Murdered for supporting the PDP opposition party. Master Isaac Godgift and Mr. Abule are some of the latest victims of a horrific and growing trend in Nigeria perpetrated against members and supporters of the opposition party during elections since the incumbent administration took office in May 29th 2015.
Attacks against opposition members have increased sharply, this same trend was observed at the recent by- elections in Rivers State. Over 200 members and supporters of the opposition party in Bayelsa State have either been killed, maimed, abducted, their properties vandalized some are living in an IDP camp, although the real figure of the total number victims could be much higher. The rise in these targeted attacks have led to many members and supporters of the opposition parties to abandon their communities altogether and live in an IDP camp with their children. Some people have permanently moved to other communities for fear, thereby restricting their Right to Freedom of Movement and Lawful Association. The Nigerian government must act.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has not come out to specifically condemn the wave of attacks on members and supporters of the Opposition but has only given sweeping statements touching on election violence and calling on the police to arrest perpetrators – but police and governmental response since then has been null and void. Apart from the 14 people arrested with AK47 riffles in Southern Ijaw, and whose cases have dragged on because of official interference by incumbent government officials from Abuja.
In Bassambri, Peremabri, Brass communities for example where the worst violence took place, nobody has been arrested or prosecuted. We are therefore calling on the President of Nigeria to take the following actions urge. Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, we the undersigned are calling on you to:
<>l.Protect members of the Opposition political parties from attacks by members of the ruling party.
<>l. Order the Nigerian police force to begin the immediate investigation, arrest and prosecution of the murderers of Master Isaac Godgift, Mr Abule and Mr Menoze Peter.
<>l.Order the Nigerian Police Force to secure Peremabri community and to see to the safe return of members of this community to their homes from the IDP camp in Yenogoa. . Order the Nigerian Police Force to begin the immediate investigation, arrest and prosecute of all hoodlums who shot at, burnt down and looted properties of the people during and after the election. . Order the non-interference of court proceedings against the 14 party chieftains by powerful politicians who are said to be sending "orders.
<>l. Order the investigation, arrests and immediate prosecution of members of Operation Famou Tangbei (OFT) and the high profile murders they have been accused of. Also order the arrests and prosecution of their main sponsors. We are also calling on Amnesty International. the United Nations and Human Rights organizations around the world, to partner with us as we begin the immediate prosecution of identified leaders of Human Rights Abuses and acts of terror in Bayelsa State as we press charges against them in the International Criminal Court.
<>l.1) Members of Operation Famou Tangbei (OFT) and their sponsor Chief Timipre Sylva, who were fingered in several high profile murders which raised the concerns of the US State Department ( Pls see Report).
<>l.2) Including the investigation, arrests and prosecution of the following who have been identified by different eye witnesses’ accounts as leaders of terror groups who have fuelled murders, attempted murders, abductions and looting in Bayelsa State. a) Senator Heineken Lokpobiri - The self-styled ‘Hitler of Ekeremor". b) Hon. Israel Sunny Goli (a.k.a Adi) c) Munalayefa ‘Don’ Gibson c) Ossom Blankson – d) Paul Eris a.k.a. Gen. Ogunboss.
<>l.3) We are also calling on Amnesty International and the United Nations to help secure the lives and properties of members of the opposition parties in the coming elections, Ekiti State, Ondo State and Edo State. We are asking for a new robust strategy by foreign observers, a strategy that involves - training, engaging and being embedded among election officials and law enforcement agencies. We are convinced that the implementation of the recommendations of this Report will deter the perpetrators of violence, their sponsors and law enforcement agencies from destroying our democracy and the nation of Nigeria.
<>l.4) Amnesty International and the International community to partner with and support us as we organise a National Peace Conference in Nigeria to forestall further bloodshed against the PDP before the above elections. An Injustice To One , Is An Injustice To All!
Long Live Nigeria!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!