A Niger Delta group, the Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, on Thursday warned the Nigerian military to stay away from Gbaramatu Kingdom, Tompolo’s town, insisting that the continuous presence of security operatives has crumbled economic activities in the area.
National President of the group, Austin Ozobo, told THISDAY that the military had continued to harass innocent people of the kingdom by ‘’arresting and evading the privacy of whole communities in the night, making lives unbearable and unpleasant for the inhabitants’’.
Ozobo spoke just as it was learnt that the five persons arrested in connection with the destruction of oil platforms in the region were released late Wednesday.
It was gathered that Chevron management which contracted the surveillance job to the community youths was able to prove that the boys were actually contract members of staff.
However, they were asked to report to the security agencies next week to perfect the papers concerning their freedom.
Members of the community had on Wednesday issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the military to ensure that the five persons namely: Samuel Emiko, Alfred Timedi, Isaac Edinde, Henry Arogboritse and Kelvin Mordi were released before the expiration of the ultimatum.
But notwithstanding the latest development, Ozobo maintained that the rights of people in Gbaramatu have been severely abused and that the people could longer go about their normal fishing activities for fear of unlawful arrest.
He argued that continuously harassing the people could draw their sympathy for the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, the militant group which has claimed responsibility for blowing up oil and gas facilities in the region.
He described the military action as a declaration of war against innocent people and communities in the area, noting that the affected people do not see it as a war against pipeline vandals