Ijaw National Congress tells President Buhari not to turn Niger Delta into a battlefield

Ijaw National Congress (INC) is telling President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led Federal Government not to militarise Ijawland ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections. Also, Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC), has warned political actors and security agencies against turning Niger Delta states into war zones over the polls.

IYC, in a statement by Mr. Eric Omare, said it was worried by the mounting tension in the region, two days to March 9 elections, especially in the light of the accusations and counter-accusations by the major political parties and actors across key Niger Delta states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom.

INC, on its part, also pledged its support for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), noting that “PDP and its governorship candidates share the kind of aspiration that the Ijaw nation shares when it comes to restructuring and liberation of its people.”

Speaking to Vanguard yesterday, the spokesperson of INC Steering Committee, Alaowie Broderick Bozimo, explained that the position taken was that the Ijaw will support the PDP in the forthcoming governorship elections, specifically Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and other candidates in the Southern states where the Ijaw nation is predominant.

“Though the position has been highlighted by the INC steering committee, but I am re-emphasising that position as we believe that PDP can deliver for us and we demonstrated it during the presidential election and do not want that message confused now that we have got to the governorship stage,” he said. “So I am appealing to our sons and daughters that the Ijaw have taken a position to stand firm for PDP in the March 9 election.”

Omare of IYC, on his part, said, “We have strong concerns that there may be outbreak of violence if the major players do not apply caution it their quest for power. In order to nip this rising tension in the bud, we call on security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be transparent in the conduct of the elections. The security agencies must see themselves as officers and servants of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rather than any of the political parties or actors. In all the instances of violence recorded in the presidential and National Assembly elections, the infamous role played by security agencies contributed greatly to the crisis. Therefore, we call on the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector General of Police to strongly call on their officers to strictly comply with the rules of engagement.”

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