Fear grips Warri

2010-03-17
THE SUN Newspaper

In the aftermath of bomb attack on Delta State governmnet house annex, Warri on Monday, security has been beefed up in the oil-rich city. Similarly, security operatives have been put at alert in strategic locations in the metropolis and riverine areas.

Daily Sun gathered that scores of military personnel deployed in the troubled area had been assigned to keep vigil on the Osubi Airport, which is said to be one of the main targets of the militants as well as oil installations and other federal concerns spread across the state.

Already, military checkpoints have been mounted on major streets and in market places where militants had allegedly pencilled down for another round of attack. Consequently, the government house annex, which was bombed has become a no-go-area as military personnel, especially the popular anti-terror squad have cordoned off the area to forestall further attack.
Investigation revealed that debris of the bomb blast within the premises of Government House has been cleared even as workers were afraid of going to their various offices.

However, partial peace has returned to Warri metropolis but residents are still gripped by fear of possible attack following threats by MEND to further unleash terror on the area.
Meanwhile, scathing criticism and outrage have continued to trail the bomb explosion that rocked the venue of the post-amnesty conference organized by Vanguard newspapers.
Former Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Joe Achuzia said it was in bad taste.
“I was there at the meeting. What I can think of is that the Federal Government should address the situation and keep the promises it made by addressing issues that are bought before it.

I once said both militants and all these youths are fighting for the same thing, the degradation of their area. And consequently, until the Federal Government addresses the issue, I don’t see the matter being put to rest. But what they did ton Monday, wasn’t in good taste, as it doesn’t portray those who supported them in good light because the dialogue was for the interest of the people.”

On his part, a former lawmaker and Commissioner for Projects Monitoring, Chief Ejaife Odebala said it was unfortunate and painful.
“A ceremony was organized to see how to solve the problems of the people and a few people organized to distabilise it. It’s just unfortunate.”
A public affairs analyst, who simply identified himself as Mr. Ochuko told Daily Sun that the Warri bomb blast was an indication that there was actually no peace and security in the state contrary to what the Delta State government had been claiming before now.

In his view, the conveners of the conference ought to have invited the ex-militants to the conference.
“You can’t be discussing somebody’s welfare in his absence. Those people should have been carried along so as to give them a sense of belonging,” he reasoned.
Similarly, chieftain of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Comrade Ari Fekorigha said the action was a fallout of the poor implementation of the amnesty exercise.
According to him, the proclamation of amnesty to Niger Delta militants was a right step in the right direction but the re-integration process was poorly implemented.
Fekorigha disclosed that during his interaction with ex-militants on the need to sustain the tempo of peace, the ex-militants had always complained of the poor implementation of the post-amnesty exercise especially the payment of their allowances.

His words: “ In my discussion with the ex-militants, it is shocking to realize that some of them have not received their stipend ever since the Federal Government amnesty committee decided to pay them through banks. There are a lot of discrepancies in the process which made some of them to be angry giving rise to the Warri incident.”
He urged the Federal Government to set up an independent monitoring committee to monitor the whole exercise to ensure that it was implemented according to the guidelines set.

Fekorigha also drew attention to the over 50 Ijaw youths still languishing in Ahoada and Port-Harcourt prisons over militant related cases and yet to be released even with the amnesty in place.
Fekorigha called on the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the IYC to prevail on the authorities concern to immediately visit those prisons and effect the release of the various youths so as to restore confidence among ex-militant leaders.
He sued for peace and assured foreign and local investors to invest in the region because the major challenge in the Niger Delta region was development.
A Niger-Delta activist, Chief Michael Johnny, also condemned the action of MEND and ex-militant leaders over the explosion. He urged Federal Government to take drastic measure in curtailing the activities of the organization.

“MEND is doing business with the Niger-Delta struggle. I detest their attitude and behaviour of trying to sabotage government effort to bring about peace in the battered region,” remarked the activist.
He said government should investigate the rationale behind the conspicuous absence of the so-called militant leaders at the all-important post-amnesty dialogue meant to restore hope in the crisis-prone Niger-Delta.

“Those who called themselves militant leaders have succeeded in destroying Ijaw nation where over 350,000 youths have so far been killed. Above all the said MEND leaders should come out from hiding and be bold enough to confront the Federal Government instead of playing hide-and-seek game,” Johnny said.
He specifically accused the dreaded ex-militant leader Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo, who, he said, was fanning the embers of disunity and destruction in the region. He urged the Federal Government to call him to order.
On his part, the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, has, however, exonerated security agencies from the bomb explosion.
Sylva who did not make it to the event before the explosion while speaking with journalists in Yenagoa said the conference was a media event and the organizers did not involve security agencies.

According to him, the bomb could have been targeted at journalists because the media which had been promoting the activities of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) organized the event.
He said government officials who attended the event took things for granted thinking that the media and MEND were friends.
“Any coward can do it, put a small knock-out in a car and park it far but near enough to the venue to make an impact.
“All of us took few things for granted because we felt that MEND and journalists have been friends for some time,” he said.

While adding that the amnesty programme was central to a lasting peace in the Niger Delta region, he lamented that the kind of flamboyant attack that was witnessed in Warri would continue to create a situation of anarchy like the one that occurred after the explosions in Warri.
Sylva, however, said government would not lose track of the amnesty programme but would remain focused because it was key to stability in the region.
He commended Acting-President Goodluck Jonathan and all Nigerians for remaining steadfast about the amnesty programme, stressing that if Nigerians put their minds to it, a lasting solution would be found for the Niger Delta crisis.








 

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