Once too many!! The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) – Nigeria’s permanent military apparatus in Ijawland – has reared its ugly head again, visiting heinous genocide and decimation on unarmed, defenseless and hapless Ijaw communities. This time, it is the bustling large town of Ayakoromo located in the Western section of the Niger Delta that is the victim of its onslaught.
The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) invaded the town on Wednesday December 1, 2010 killing and maiming hundreds of innocent and harmless children, men and women, including the elderly, under the pretence of going after militant leader John Togo of the Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF), considered to be a renegade and fugitive from justice. The problem, however, is that the aforementioned John Togo had destroyed and deserted his camp, located three miles away from Ayakoromo Town in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The Ayakoromo Genocide is arguably the saddest and the most heart-breaking tragedy that has befallen the Ijaw Nation, simply because it is the greatest betrayal of the Ijaw Nation for an Ijaw President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan, to commit such an atrocious genocidal act against his own oppressed Ijaw people!! We hold President Goodluck Jonathan totally responsible for this heinous, genocidal crime against the Ijaws and against humanity.
Information available so far reveals that President Goodluck Jonathan authorized the genocidal military onslaught against Ayakoromo (an Ijaw town of some 15,000 inhabitants) and other surrounding Ijaw communities by the inglorious Joint Task Force (JTF), the Nigerian army of occupation and oppression in Ijawland. Worse yet, Jonathan has refused to halt the genocide against the Ayakoromo people, and has, by extension, given the JTF his consent and order, as commander-in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces, to continue the genocidal campaign against these minority peoples. Moreover, by his silent nod he has given the go-ahead to cover up the atrocities committed and being committed against Ayakoromo and the entire Ijaw Nation. President Goodluck Jonathan's callous silence and absolute lack of sympathy for the Ayakoromo community, that has been so decimated by aerial bombings, artillery shelling and grenade attacks, with the killing and maiming of hundreds of its members, is absolute proof of his culpability for the genocide!! Goodluck Jonathan's attitude is unconscionable and reprehensible, especially in the face of the fact that well-meaning Ijaw sons and daughters had swiftly made representations to him at the onset to stop the genocidal military campaign! There is absolutely no justification for the genocidal military campaign against Ayakoromo or any other Ijaw community because there are no militant camps in any Ijaw community; rather, the militant camps are in remote areas in the creeks of the Niger Delta, at safe distances away from the communities. Nobody would fault Goodluck Jonathan if he had ordered the Nigerian military/JTF to engage militants in their camps rather than visit premeditated genocide upon innocent Ijaw communities.
The Ayakoromo Genocide is yet another very painful reminder of the most terrible genocides that have been committed by the Nigerian State against the Ijaws. Only last year, precisely in May 2009, on the orders of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State was visited with horrendous genocide, whereby thousands of its population were savagely (brutally) murdered or maimed, and its towns and villages viciously decimated and ferociously razed, by aerial bombardments, grenade attacks, and artillery attacks from warships and naval gunboats. Tens of thousands were rendered homeless. The hapless inhabitants fled into the bushes where they were hunted and slaughtered by the rampaging genocidal Nigerian military. Thousands of injured people could not have access to much-needed life-saving emergency medical care because they were cut off from the outside world by the genocidal military siege and, therefore, died helplessly. It is extremely disappointing that the Nigerian government has refused to rebuild or compensate the destroyed Gbaramatu communities one and half years after the heinous Gbaramatu Genocide. Yesterday, it was Gbaramatu; today, it is Ayakoromo; which Ijaw community is next?
We are anguished and appalled beyond description as thousands of our people have been rendered homeless and have fled into the bushes where they are hunted and slaughtered by the rampaging genocidal Nigerian military. Many have fled to Warri and other neighboring towns as refugees.
If the Ijaws cannot be protected against genocide in Nigeria even by an Ijaw President of Nigeria, then there is no place for the Ijaws in Nigeria!! The Rubicon has been crossed!
Nigeria’s colonizing Joint Task Force (JTF) has, in the past fifteen years, decimated our defenseless populations in no fewer than seventy-five (75) Ijaw villages, towns and cities. They include:
Gbaramatu Odi Odioma Gbaran Ogboinbiri Kaiama Ovu Liama Okpoama Obioku Yenagoa Amarata Ekeki Opolo Agudama Epebu Oluashiri Okolobiri Mbiama Azuzuama Ologoama Oboro Ogodobiri Ojobo Peretorugbene Warri Corner Okerenkoko Torugbene Ogbudugbudu Ogulagha Odimodi Okigbene Olugbobiri Olugboboro Ikebiri Nembe Twon Ferebaghagbene Opia Ikenyan Okokodiagbene Oproza Ogbe-Ijo Izon-Burutu Ekeremor-Zion Sagbama Aven Patani Amabulu Peremabiri Obuama Agge Fish Town Koluama Okrika Bonny Ataba Iyak Omelema Otari Degema Bakana Kula Soku Elem-Sangama Opobo Abula Amadi-ama Bille Belema Buguma
These are just some of the Ijaw communities that the Nigerian State has razed in recent history to keep their grip on the oil in our land. The relentless genocidal military campaign against us, the Ijaw people, is proof of the ruthless determination of the evil and ungrateful Nigerian State to oppress and exterminate us for our God-given oil and gas resources.
We hereby call on all humanitarian agencies worldwide, particularly the International Red Cross and the United Nations Committee on Refugees, to send relief materials and humanitarian workers to save and help the victims of the terrible humanitarian crisis.
We note, with extreme pain, disgust and anger, the continual systematic acts of genocide perpetrated against our Ijaw people, particularly our Ijaw youths by the occupation forces of the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta. The Joint Task Force of the Nigerian military, enforcing a Genocidal Reign of Terror against the Ijaws, frequently guns down unarmed innocent Ijaw youths travelling in speedboats in the Niger Delta Waterways under the pretext that the Ijaw youths are militants. There have been numerous instances whereby the occupation forces of the oppressive Nigerian State have indiscriminately and recklessly killed Ijaw citizens travelling in boats in our waterways in the course of their routine, normal, daily socioeconomic activities. Whenever such heinous human rights abuses are perpetrated against the Ijaw people, the Nigerian military and Nigerian government dishonorably and deceptively defend and justify their crimes against humanity by falsely claiming, with plausibility, that the killed Ijaws were militants! Whereas members of the Nigerian security forces who kill citizens of other ethnic extractions in other parts of the country are penalized for their human rights abuses, the Nigerian occupation forces in the Niger Delta are allowed to kill Ijaws with impunity! This is unacceptable!!
A police operation to flush out alleged miscreants must not be turned into a deliberate and calculated military onslaught to annihilate the Ijaw ethnic nationality. This military persecution can only be categorized as ethnic cleansing. When thousands of Southerners living in the northern parts of Nigeria were slaughtered in recent years, neither bombs nor helicopter gunships were used to kill the Hausa-Fulani and other Northern Nigerian miscreants. During the mayhems in Lagos during the active period of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) when numerous Hausa-Fulanis and Yorubas fought and killed one another, no helicopter gunships or bombs were employed by the Nigerian Security Forces to eliminate the miscreants, let alone decimate innocent, harmless and defenseless civilians. And in the continual and episodic Jos Crisis and the Boko-Haram Crisis in Northern Nigeria in which police officers and soldiers have been killed, no helicopter gunships or bombs have been deployed by the Nigerian Security Forces to annihilate innocent, harmless and defenseless civilians. In contradistinction, it is the discriminatory, oppressive and unacceptable official policy of the Nigerian government and military to use bombs, naval gunboats and helicopter gunships indiscriminately to kill and maim in Niger Delta communities at peacetime under a civilian government. Even the extrajudicial killing of suspected miscreants without trial is an egregious violation of due process as well as an unconscionable abuse of human rights.
It is universal knowledge that the Ijaws and Nigeria are engaged in a serious conflict that has been occasioned by the relentless and ruthless oppression of the Ijaws by the Nigerian state. In response to our peaceful agitation for fairness, equity and self-determination, the Nigerian government has inflicted an ever-intensifying Genocidal Reign of Terror on our defenseless people. In the last fifteen years, members of the Nigerian Security Forces, acting at the behest of the Nigerian government, have wrongfully and needlessly murdered thousands of Ijaws, raided and razed Ijaw towns and villages, cruelly tortured many of our people, imprisoned several Ijaw Rights Activists and raped numerous Ijaw women and children; in response to our legitimate demands for a halt to our oppression, the wanton destruction of our habitat and looting of our God-given wealth.
The pervasive Ijaw Youth Restiveness and Insurgency are compelled and propelled by the imperative for survival and self-defense, in the Spirit of Isaac Adaka Boro, against the political subjugation and relentless ruthless oppression of the Ijaw people, unbridled plundering of their oil and gas resources, wanton destruction of their habitat and means of subsistence, their utter neglect and deprivation, atrocious violation of their basic human rights and dignity, continual heinous genocides perpetrated by an occupying military force of the Nigerian State that kills Ijaws with impunity, and resultant abominable squalor, hopelessness, despair and anarchy.
The patently flawed “Amnesty Program” instituted by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009 has only aggravated the pathetic plight of our colonized Ijaw people. This is because it fails to address the fundamental causes of the intractable Niger Delta Conflict. Acting in good faith, the Nigerian government should have engaged the United Nations as an independent mediator to resolve it, but it has refused to do so.
We, the Concerned Diaspora Ijaws, condemn in the strongest terms, the heinous genocide being committed against the Ijaws by the Nigerian State. We ask President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian government to disband the Joint Task Force (JTF) and withdraw all military forces of occupation in the Niger Delta immediately. The Niger Delta Conflict is a political conflict and therefore demands a political solution rather than a military solution. The Ijaws want and demand a peaceful political solution to the Niger Delta Conflict.
Furthermore, we ask the Nigerian government, as a matter of urgency and restitution, to rebuild Ayakoromo Town which has been barbarously destroyed by the JTF. The restitution must also include monetary compensation to the survivors of the genocide for their family members that were killed, for properties and valuables destroyed, and for injuries, disabilities and psychological trauma sustained. Similar restitution should be provided for the people of Gbaramatu, Odi, Kaiama, Opia, Ikenyan, Ogoniland and all other such communities that have suffered acts of genocide and senseless destruction at the hands of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
We take this opportunity to reiterate that the Ijaws are extremely peace loving and longsuffering. We, the Ijaws, are engaged in a noble and legitimate agitation for self determination, socioeconomic justice, environmental protection and survival. We only claim, demand and defend that which is rightly and justly ours. Our motivation is love, our passion is justice, and our goal is peace. The Ijaws want peace in the Niger Delta, in Nigeria, and in the entire world.
Our oppressors are the advocates of violence because they are using guns and violence, military force and genocide, to keep us oppressed. No Ijaw person would take up arms to fight if the oppressive Nigerian State did not use military power or guns to repress us and deny us justice! A thief knows that it is wrong for him to take your personal property from you without your consent, and he knows that you will not allow him to do so. So he comes armed with a gun to coerce you to relinquish your property to him. Nigeria is committing armed robbery against the Ijaws. A thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Nigeria is stealing our resources, killing us, and destroying our habitat and means of livelihood.
It is the cruelest irony of fate that our Ijaw people are being killed by Nigerian soldiers that are paid, clothed, fed, housed and armed with our Ijaw oil money. Same goes for the Nigerian government and the International Oil Companies to plunder our resources and destroy our habitat. The fighter jets, warships, naval gunboats, grenades, artillery and bombs being unleashed on our hapless Ijaw people are bought with the Ijaw oil money! It is unacceptable that our God-given wealth has become our inexorable curse!
The world cannot sit idly by when the internationally affirmed and ratified fundamental human rights of the approximately fifteen million Ijaw people are being so egregiously and continuously violated by a signatory of the United Nations Charter. It would be an indefensible dereliction of duty if the United Nations does not act to uphold the sanctity of its Universal Declarations of Human Rights or fail to protect the oppressed and abused in any part of the world.
The Niger Delta Crisis has assumed epic global proportions and therefore calls for concerted international action. The adverse effect of the Niger Delta Crisis on global oil prices makes it imperative for concerted global action to resolve the crisis. Furthermore, it is important to note that the oppression heaped on the Ijaws of the Niger Delta is arguably worse than that suffered by black South Africans during the terrible Apartheid Regime because, besides political subjugation, disenfranchisement, sub-humanization and dehumanization, the Ijaws also suffer resource plunder, environmental degradation and ecological genocide that were never suffered by black South Africans! As the world was rightly moved into action to stop the terrible oppression of black South Africa, the world must also act with urgency to stop the ruthless oppression of the Ijaws.
Similarly, the oppression that was suffered by the Kosovo people did not entail ecological genocide; it was less terrible than what the Ijaws of the Niger Delta are facing. Yet the people of Kosovo got the support of the United Nations and the international community for their self-determination. Just as the United Nations intervened in Kosovo to bring justice and peace, it should also intervene in the Niger Delta to bring justice and peace there!
To this end, as a matter of utmost urgency, we call on the international community, under the aegis of the United Nations, to orchestrate a peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta Crisis by enforcing an immediate demilitarization of the Niger Delta and by organizing a Referendum on Ijaw Political Autonomy.
We are gratified that the international community has begun to validate the true plight of the Ijaw people, recognizing that the Ijaws are pitiable victims of internal colonialism being perpetrated against them by the oppressive and fraudulent Nigerian State and the transnational oil companies operating in Ijawland. In this regard, we commend the remarkable uprightness and candor of former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, in his auspicious remarks on December 4, 2010 at the second yearly Chinua Achebe Colloquium hosted by Brown University and the famous Nigerian author during a panel discussion entitled, “The Niger Delta Crisis: The Political, Economic and Environmental Conundrum”, as published in the Nigerian Guardian of December 7, 2010, as follows:
NIGER Delta is under colonial rule and its people are being subjected to suffering by both the Federal Government and the oil companies operating in the area, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has said.
Campbell spoke in Rhode Island, United States over the weekend at the second yearly Chinua Achebe Colloquium hosted by Brown University and the famous Nigerian author during a panel discussion entitled, “The Niger Delta Crisis: The Political, Economic and Environmental Conundrum”.
Campbell spoke just as the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned the renewed hostilities in the region, especially the alleged excessive use of military force last week in seeking to dislodge some alleged armed militants in Ayakoromor community in Burutu council of Delta State which led to the reported killing of an undetermined number of civilians.
The former U.S. ambassador said what is happening in the oil producing area can also be described as “an insurrection that goes on for 50 years,” adding that it goes beyond poverty and criminality.
“Too many people in Niger Delta actively supported the insurrection because they are alienated from their government and excluded from the political process,” he said.
Explaining why he thinks the Niger Delta situation is comparable to colonial rule, Campbell described what is happening there as recurring insurgency. “We should think of colonial rule. Is Niger Delta a colony of Abuja and the oil companies are the junior partners?” he said.
Going further, Campbell who was U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria up till 2007 when Dr. Robin Rene Sanders took over, added that while Niger Delta should be viewed as a colony, the “imperialists in that case are not some foreign country, but some other parts of Nigeria.” http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31606:niger-delta-under-colonial-rule-says-former-us-ambassador&catid=1:national&Itemid=559
In his historic speech to his fellow Americans, the legendary Patrick Henry of blessed memory declared: “Give me liberty or give me death”! The United States of America was the torchbearer of liberty about two hundred and thirty-three years ago. Today, the Ijaws are proud to be the torchbearers of liberty.
This is a battle of good against evil. We are confident of the glorious triumph of good over evil! We are absolutely confident of our victory God has promised and decreed.
We call on all champions and lovers of freedom, and indeed the entire world, to join our ‘Alliance for Freedom’ and stand with us against oppression. We call on the United Nations to convene an emergency meeting of its Security Council to take emergency action to stop the genocide against the Ijaws, as follows:
1. Declare the Ijaw Region in Nigeria a Protectorate of the United Nations pending the completion of our transition to self-government.
2. Establish a United Nations Committee for Self-determination of the Ijaws to: (a) mediate our negotiations with the Nigerian State for our peaceful separation from Nigeria; (b) provide us with technical assistance to conduct our Referendum on Self-government; (c) oversee our transition to self-rule.
3. Grant the Ijaws representation as an OBSERVER NATION in the United Nations General Assembly (same status currently enjoyed by the Palestinians), pending our transition to self-rule.
4. Order the Nigerian government, by Security Council Resolution, to immediately withdraw all its military troops, submarines, gunboats and weaponry deployed to the Niger Delta to kill and repress the Ijaws.
5. Impose tough economic sanctions on Nigeria, including an absolute international embargo on Nigeria’s, oil until all Nigerian military forces in the Niger Delta are withdrawn.
Dr. Ebipamone N. Nanakumo
Email: [email protected]; Cell: (570) 369-0530
Prof. Geoffrey Ibim
Email: [email protected]
Dr. Abio Sokari
Email: [email protected]
Mr. Bright Harry
Email: [email protected]
Mr. Peter Oki Edu
Email: [email protected]
For and on the behalf of Concerned Diaspora Ijaws