JTF GUNBOATS RAISE TENSION IN BAYELSA
Yenagoa- Fear, Sunday, gripped the riverside Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, over the deployment of two gunboats to the area by the authority of the Joint Task Force, JTF, and the alleged cases of extortion and harassment of indigenes of the area by soldiers.
The deployment of the soldiers stationed along the Diebu Creek Flow Station to assist the two dredging companies working in the area, it was learnt, was influenced by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
Former member of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Comrade Eris Paul, popularly known as Ogunboss and the Chairman of the Community Development Association, CDC, Comrade Dickson Pereode, who spoke on behalf of the community, said the SPDC is using the presence of the gunboats to force their way into areas outside the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed with the community and as was destroying the means of livelihood of the people.
While Comrade Eris Paul said the action of the SPDC is provocative and vexatious, the CDC Chairman said the action had created serious tension in the areas and could lead to breakdown of law and order.
Comrade Paul said that in addition to the failure of the oil company to provide roads in line with terms of agreement with the people, they have also decided to threaten the people and intimidate the elders. According to him, since the deployment of the gunboats, the passenger boats plying the waterways are forced to pay the sum of N3,000 and boats engaged in illegal bunkering pay over N10,000 to clear way.
He noted that one of the soldiers (names withheld) threatened him over his attempt to call them to order. Paul said: 'As I talk to you we, women and youths, have decided to resist them with our last blood. The soldier, who claimed to be an indigene of Ogbia, said he is the President Jonatha's brother and that the President can not question him.'