By Sampson Boroh
Ijaw youths on Wednesday staged simultaneous protests at the offices of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Bayelsa and Delta States crippling business activities over the alleged disappearance of the President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Timothy Igbifa.
The protests took place at premises of NDDC offices at Edjeba in Warri and Yenezue-gene office of the interventionist commission in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
It was gathered that the protests were held following the expiration of the 30 days ultimatum issued to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute a substantive board for the NDDC as well as the alleged disappearance of IYC President since on Tuesday morning.
The protests which created vehicular movement and shutting down of business activities in both states result for several hours.
The protesters chanting anti-government Ijaw war songs demanded for the immediate release of the Ijaw youth leader and constitution of a new NDDC board executive by the Federal Government.
At the Yenagoa protest, the protesters armed with placards with different inscriptions accused the administration of President Buhari for the sudden disappearance of Comrade Timothy Igbifa to stop the mass protest against illegal appointment in the NDDC.
The situation at the Edjeba of the commission was not different as the protesters barricaded the only entrance to the office thereby preventing staff and visitors from gaining access to their offices for official duties.
Some of the placards read; “Restructure Nigeria Now!”, IOCs must not remmitt N1.6billion dollars to NDDC Now!”,” We seek Justice in NDDC,Now!”, ”FG should appoint substantive board in NDDC now”, among others.
They warned that the next protest on the issues of the appointment of substantive board for the NDDC, the tenure of the Sole Administrator and other issues of the development of the region will be total and a “Mass Action”.
Meanwhile, IYC in a statement on Wednesday signed by its Deputy President, Savior Olali and National spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe, fingered the federal government of being responsible for the lalleged abduction of Comrade Igbifa.
According to the statement,” Though the abduction of the IYC President, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, came to us as a shock and provocative, we have since discovered that the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, sponsored and executed the abduction.
“First, he was invited, along with other National Executive members, to Abuja for a robust engagement meeting with the Interim Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixion Dikio (rtd). Then, he was abducted by men armed with standard “IWI Tavor rifles” or “the Uzi sub-machine gun”.
“Despite our shock, the National Executive of the IYC wants to express solidarity with the pockets of protest in some parts of the region in line with the expiration of the 30days ultimatum handed the Federal Government, and the provocative abduction of the President, Deacon Igbifa.
“While in support and solidarity with genuine protest by Ijaw Youths in most parts of the region, they should not allow hoodlums or criminal elements serially used to thwart similar protest in Lagos and Kaduna to infiltrate their midst and hijack the protests.
“The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) also condemn, in strongest terms, the unwarranted abduction of the President, Deacon Igbifa and call on the Federal Government to release him unconditionally.
“Due to the sudden abduction, the Ijaw Youths Council leadership have abruptly terminated the ongoing engagement between the IYC and the Interim Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“We are returning back to the region to have robust engagement with key stakeholders including the Clans, Zones and chapters on the strategy and rule of engagement forthwith”.
“These robust engagements will metamorphose into a National Convention slated for Sunday 30th of May, 2019 where a clear-cut strategy will be initiated in line with the planned Mass Action. As a Council, we will not betray the trust reposed in us as National Leaders of the IYC.
“The National Leaders of the Council is resolute that despite the expiration of the 30 days ultimatum handed President Muhammadu Buhari at midnight on Tuesday, the Ijaw Youths will not be cowed from insisting that a substantive board of NDDC be immediately constituted.
“While we put the various security agencies in the country on red alert in order to secure the unconditional release of the President of Council, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, the Ijaw Youths worldwide should remain calm, and not allow emotions and divisive elements to drag then back from achieving our goal of ensuring peace, equity and fair development for the region.”