The indigenes of the Peremabiri Community of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council of Bayelsa State have staged a peaceful protest against what they described as State government sponsoring of armed invasion of their community in an effort to forcefully install a paramount ruler against the wish of the people of the area.
The protesting Peremabiri indigenes, made up of children, women, youths and elders, warned that though the election crisis that rocked the community is over, the alleged sponsored attacks by the State government and a member of the State House of Assembly and attempts to remove its paramount ruler, Chief Wisdom Ogiriki, will be resisted.
The protesters declared that the community is peaceful and is comfortable with the existing community leadership. They displayed placards with inscriptions such as ”Government should not impose a ruler on us,” “Enough of Military Intimidation,” “Bring Back Peremabiri Rice Farm,” and “We Are Not Sea Pirates.”
The spokesman of the community, Chief Clifford Ogoro, stated, “we have discovered that the State government is doing this because we supported the APC during the last election. Politics is by choice. We are tired of persistent disturbance sponsored against the community.”
Also speaking, the public relations officer of the community, Roland Kente, and the youth leader, Marcus Prichard, said since the election of the new paramount ruler, there has been a new atmosphere of peace among indigenes and non-indigenes alike.
While Mr. Prichard insisted that the youths resolved to embrace peace and reject attempts by agents of the State government to sponsor violence by hiring youths of the community, Mr. Kente said instead of alleged sponsorship of violence against the peace in the community, the State government should focus on initiating development projects including the reactivation of the Peremabiri rice farm and needed shore protection project.
Some Batch ‘B’ Corps members deployed to the area supported the call for sustained peace in the community. The spokesperson for the Corps members, Fatima Atoyebi, told newsmen, “We need sustained peace in the community. When the armed military men came to the community, we were harassed.”
When contacted yesterday in Yenagoa, a prominent indigene of the community and foremost ex-militant leader, Eris Paul, also known as Ogunboss, said the protest by the indigenes of the community was an affirmation of the existence of peace and a show of anger against repeated attempts by the State government and its agents to disrupt it.
“I am not surprised that the people have decided that what they need is peace,” Mr. Paul. “The Peremabiri is a community known for peace and they have won an award for peace and zero tolerance to pipeline vandalism. The community has been assisting security agents against sea piracy and illegal oil bunkering.”
On the need to reconcile with the aggrieved members of the community, Ogunboss said that although the decision to reconcile and recall those aggrieved resident, one is dependent on the Community Council of Chiefs.
“As a prominent member of the community, we will ensure that those recalled are not victimized,” he said.