Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
We the People and the Rivers State Civil Society Organizations profoundly welcomes you to this Press Conference. We have invited you here this morning to share our concerns about recent spate of actions by the Nigerian military against Niger Delta communities, actions which can best be described as atrocious.
Ladies and Gentlemen we have noticed that in the last one year at lease, the military has adopted a policy of attacking and burning communities whenever there is a suspected case of artisanal refining in proximity to those communities. In 2019 alone, there were at least 3 such incidents in the Niger Delta. We take particular note of Kalaekulema (Ke)community in Degema LGA and Azagbene in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State.
This press conference is specifically to discuss the case of Udoda community in Ahaoda West local government area. On the 23rd of May 2019, the Military invaded the community with gunboats and helicopters, randomly bombing the community. In all, about 23 houses were set ablaze and totally destroyed with all properties in it worth millions of Naira. Several persons were also killed in the incident. We the People and RIVCSO sent 2 teams to have a first hand assessment of the level of damage done in the community, capturing audio and pictorial evidence of the actions of the military.
We in partnership with the affected community went ahead to write a petition to the National Human Rights Commission demanding an investigation and immediate remedial action. Ladies and Gentlemen, several months after our petition it is important to note that no remedial action has been carried out.
Last week, we produced a documentary video that captures the level of damage done in the community, the pains and losses of the people and their quest for justice. We produced this documentary in the hope that it will amplify this issues and highlight the need for actions to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are using the opportunity of this Press Briefing to intimate the media on how far we have gone with the community and the efforts we have made to seek justice. We seek the partnership of the media to further escalate and amplify this issue to the extent that agencies of state responsible for remedial actions sit up to their duties.
From this Press Briefing, we shall proceed to again petition the National Human Rights Commission, reminding them of our earlier petition in case they have forgotten. We shall also be writing the Army Headquarters and detailing this atrocious event, complete with videos and pictorial evidence.
Finally ladies and gentlemen, let us remind you that we have Nigerians in our midst whom everything has been taken away from. They have lost all their worldly possessions and been left destitute. Let us also remind you that people have died in the course of this event. Our society deserves an explanation. The people demand accountability for these events.
The best people to narrate this sad tale is the community itself.
Thank you for your attention.
Ken Henshaw Enefaa Georgewill
We the People RIVCSO