Pro Itsekiri armed group launched, gives FG, Oil companies 21-day ultimatum
‘Address injustice or face oil blockade, armed attacks’
By Bola Ajayi, Warri
A new armed pro-Itsekiri group was at the weekend announced in the Niger-Delta with a stern warning to the Federal Government to address historic injustices meted to the Itsekiri oil producing communities or face armed rebellion. The new armed group was named JENEKPO tí ẸRi NIGER DELTA (JEND). The group said it has launched “Operation Akpakpasimaga” which it said is aimed at redeeming the dignity of Itsekiri people all over the world.
The group in a statement posted on social media and signed by two of its officials Òdenren Aghanmayẹ́rẹ and Oritsegbemi Afolabi said JEND will block oil exploration in the next 21 days if their demands are not met.
The Itsekiri who have ancestral land in Delta and Edo States are the second largest producer of Nigeria’s oil and gas, accounting for some 30 percent of the total.
The group said “we are calling on God, all our deities as well as every Itsekiri sons or daughters around the world to bear witness of today 15/08/2021 as we launch our own militia wing codenamed JENEKPO tí ẸRi NIGER DELTA (JEND) and flag off Operation “Akpakpasimaga”. The group said for decades, the Itsekiri have adopted the principle of peaceful engagement but that it has been met with proportional exploitation and dehumanization of Itsekiri people. The statement was tagged “The oil of the Maggot is used to cuisine the Maggot’ meaning that the oil of Itsekiti must be used to develop Itsekiriland.”
“For several decades, while many ethnic groups in the Niger-Delta engage in armed confrontation, the Itsekiri have adopted the policy of peaceful constructive negotiation. This has not worked. Our peace proposals have seen violent attacks as the reward. The continuous exploitation of our people informed the need for the emergence of the armed group with the aim of defending Itsekiri ancestral land from ceaseless exploitation by the Federal Government and the Oil companies” the officials, Odenren Aghanmayere and Oritsegbemi Afolabi said in the statement. The group said the Nigerian Government and the Oil companies continue to violate international law and conventions one of which is Convention on Biodiversity signed at the Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil in 1992 and enacted into force on December 29, 1993 which emphasise the conservation of bio resources and sustainable use of its components and the Concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent supported by the United Nations, (UN) which means indigenous Peoples must be consulted and included in conception full participation of indigenous peoples, utilisation and involvement in decisions that affect them when their resources are to be explored.
JEND asked the Federal Government and the Oil Companies to pay two billion dollars in the next seven months being compensation for the pollution, genetic alteration of humans caused by years of oil pollution which the group said has caused deaths, destroyed the livelihood, spirituality, heritage and health of over 600,000 indigenous Itsekiti people.
‘We have lost our vegetation, we have lost our land, we have lost our sea and our ocean and our ancestral groves. The destruction of our cosmogony, our spirituality, the health of our people, our women and children cannot be quantified in material terms. Oil exploration has brought doom and peril for Itsekiti of today and generations unborn. The minimum we can look forward to is compensation with payment of N2billion dollars.” the group said. The group also called for immediate cleaning of the entire Itsekiri land currently at the mercy of what it called “Environmental Genocide” perpetrated by the Federal Government and the oil companies operating in Itsekiti land. JEND said it regretted that while fundamental demands of the Itsekiri people are crucial, the group is also interested in certain immediate demands.
“We demand for the office of the Chairman or Managing Director Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) (depending on which is coming to Delta State) be given to the highest producer of crude oil and gas which is the Itsekiri ethnic group -the only tribe that has not tasted the headship of the aforementioned agencies since inception,” JEND said.
The group said if the Federal Government and the oil companies refuse to pay compensation and also accord “Itsekiri our rightful place in these agencies, we can no longer guarantee the free flow of crude oil and gas from our God-given land to service these agencies.”
The group said “Consequently, JEND gives the FG 21 days ultimatum starting from the midnight of 15/08/2021 to review these humble demands of ours and accord us our rightful status or risk the further free flow of our God-given resources to service the nation. Accordingly, all critical organs of E1, E2, E3, E4, E5 and E6 have been directed to be on alert and invoke “operation Akpakpasimaga” at the zero hour of the ultimatum if our demands are not met.”
JEND said “The partnership between the Itsekiri people of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian government is expected to at all times be symbiotic. Unfortunately, what the Itsekiri people of Niger Delta has witnessed in the hands of the Nigerian government since independent is a parasitic relationship where uninterruptedly, our God-given resources are used to create asylum of opulence for others and used to build new cities in other parts of Nigeria with the Itsekiris having nothing on ground to show for this huge burden we carry for the entire nation.”
JEND said unfortunately, “this parasitism of the Nigerian Government is now being extended to the activities of the NDDC and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) which are heavily being funded by the wealth generated from the Itsekiri homeland.” The group said as the second largest producer of crude oil and gas in Nigeria, “the Itsekiri people of this generation have vowed to stop following the path of peaceful and civilised engagement deployed by our forebears to get these injustices addressed as it is clearly obvious that the only language patronised by the actors of the Nigerian government is violence.”