The people of the Gbaramatu Kingdom continue to be victimized by the police and military forces’ approach to quelling the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), according to a press statement by Alowei Cleric the National President of the Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (FHRACC).
With operations that the National Publicity Secretary of the Niger Delta Youth Forum (NDYF), Zinami Iwariso, described as a “gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the people in the area” and a “pure harassment and sheer oppression of the Niger Delta people,” the Nigerian security forces stationed in the area have carried out their duties in an oppressive manner.
It will be recalled that SaharaReporters previously reported that residents of Oporoza Community in the Gbaramatu Kingdom pleaded with the public to place pressure on the security agencies to stop brutalizing their communities. An Ijaw leader, Godspower Gbenekama, lamented saying, “They have arrested many persons and villagers have fled into the bush. This is wrong. They are going to worsen issues with what they are doing.” Mr. Gbenekama maintained that “Gbaramatu people are not synonymous with Niger Delta Avengers.”
In another story, SaharaReporters correspondents had exclusive interviews with residents of the same community who lamented the fact that they were being intimidated by the military. Among those who were interviewed were a woman whose food and money was stolen by the soldiers, an elderly man who was physically abused by two soldiers, a young woman who was raped by the troops, and another local who was yet to recover the body of his younger sister who had been killed by the soldiers.
One of the residents stated that the entire community has been gripped by fear due to the constant military presence.
Mr. Cleric’s press release titled “The Indiscriminate Arrest And Harassment Of Indigenes Of Gbaramatu Kingdom Is At Variance With The FG’s Peace Process,” said that “The frequent arrest, harassment and intimidation of indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom and, by extension, the Niger Delta region by the Nigerian Armed Forces, runs counterproductive to the ongoing dialogue initiatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Speaking against the arbitrary arrest of residents of the area, he asserted that “apprehending every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the region by tagging them as members of the NDA cannot, in all honesty, bring peace to the region if the Government is ready to address the issue politically.”
“We have been reliably informed that the Nigerian Army, in their usual way of tagging every perceived enemy in the region as members of the NDA, have invaded the premises of one Honorable Simeon Bebenimibo, an indigene of Okerenkoko in the Gbaramatu Kingdom. Mr. Bebenimibo, a member of the Delta State Waterways and Land Security Committee in Warri Delta State, on the 19th of July 2016 at the dead of the night at about 12:30am, was whisked away to an undisclosed location by the security forces.”
Mr. Cleric also stated that Mr. Bebenimibo was not the only known person who had been arrested.
“We are also informed that another indigene of the Kingdom named Mr. Oluba Bomboy was also arrested this morning by the said marauding security operatives in Warri Delta State. That is one arrest too many.
According to the press release students from the Oporoza Community who had been arrested about two months ago but were yet to be charged with any crime.
“This is a gross abuse of constitutional democracy.”
Ever since the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) began their operations in March of this year, the Government has set out to bring an end to their activities by intensifying military and police activity in the Niger Delta Area. According to many residents, the security operatives have, in the process of trying to apprehend allies of the NDA, exacerbated the sense of insecurity that had been present in the area since the NDA began their activities.