By Emma Amaize
BENIN CITY- IJAW Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, a rights group, Monday, threatened to padlock Edo State Government House in Benin City and office of the Edo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission over illegal isolation of Ijaw oil and gas producing communities by the State Government in the running of the Commission.
The group in a statement by the president and spokesperson, Messrs Austin Ozobo and Ezekiel Daniel respectively, alleged that the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, took the action “at the behest of the Oba of Benin.”
It said: “Ijaw people have resolved to lead a protest to close down Edo State Government House and the complex of EDOSOPADEC in the state capital. We do not deserve to be treated as slaves in our mother’s land. Edo state will be on fire. President Buhari should hold Godwin Obaseki and Oba of Benin responsible for any break down of law and order in the state.”
“In the light of this, we call on all Ijaw sons and daughters, ex-militants and agitators to rise up from their sleeping slumber and quickly prepare for a show down in Edo state to quickly liberate our brothers and sisters in Edo state,” it added.
According to IPDI: “Ijaw people were hopeful that they will be recognized and included in the just inaugurated board of EDOSOPADEC based on Edo government’s resolve for peace, early this year, being core oil and gas producing communities in the state.”
“But it is distasteful that Edo- Ijaws being the major oil producing communities are perpetually excluded and unrecognized as oil producing communities by successive Edo state governments. Ijaws are in their own land, they are not visitors or strangers but aborigines of Edo state,” the group stated.
It declared: “We expect every well-meaning person to strongly condemn the continued intimidation and marginalization of Ijaw people in Edo state. We are disappointed by Godwin Obaseki- led Edo state government. He is tribalistic and not fit to govern a multi-ethnic state such as Edo state. The world should not blame us if we decide to go for self-defense. A stitch in time saves nine.”
“It is our unequivocal demand that Godwin Obaseki should quickly swing into action in a view of recognizing and including all oil and gas reproducing Ijaw communities in Edo state in EDOSOPADEC without further delay to avoid any break down of law and order in Edo state.
“Edo people have gone beyond their limit and we will not accept it any longer. It is very unfortunate that Obaseki is turning a national disgrace. How can in this modern society some people are still treated like slaves by privileged people. We will give him war. We have been pushed to the wall. Except Ijaw is recognized in EDOSOPADEC, peace will elude his government,” the group stated.