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6 Jul 2013

News: How we escaped death – Itsekiri villagers

SOME of the Itsekiri villagers, who fled from troubled communities in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State to Sapele, Warri, Koko and other parts of the state, in the last few days, Friday, narrated how they escaped alive from Ijaw ex-militants and hoodlums that attacked them and killed their relatives.
One of the survivors, Mr. Tony Olley, told Saturday Vanguard that the assailants came in two speedboats with sophisticated arms to his community and unleashed mayhem.
According to him, “most of the people who escaped out of the burnt communities went through the bush while some swam through long stretch of water before getting to land.
“Some were moved out of the places by Joint Task Force, JTF, gun boats, “he said, adding, “The schools in the areas affected have closed down.”
He urged government to improve on security on the waterways.
A group of other displaced Itsekiri natives, who spoke through the Jakpa community head, Pa Higson Jofotan Oporokun said they escaped through the bush, after three hours of wallowing in the forest.
A lamenting Oporokun asked what  crime Itsekiris had committed to warrant the merciless attack by ex-militants and hoodlums.
His words, “Where do they say Itsekiris should live in Nigeria, if the security forces cannot protect the lives of the Itsekiris, who will protect it,” Pa Oporokun asked.
He said, “A nonagenarian and five persons were killed in Ajamitan community, a three -year old -baby boy was burnt to death in the same Ajamitan. Another three people; a husband, wife and a 15- year- old child shot dead in Tisun community and one person killed in Ehoro community.”
Leader of Itsekiri people in Sapele, Pa Edward K. Gblagada, who lost a relation in the mayhem, said the bereaved families were presently in a difficult situation and require urgent government attention.
“They have no food to eat and no shelter to stay in,” he said, cautioning the hoodlums to sheathe their swords and embraced dialogue.
According to him, “Politics is a dirty game, losers should work with those who won, you can be in-charge of a political office today, and tomorrow it can be my turn. People should not kill themselves because of politics.”
“Crisis slows down development because instead of focusing on development, government will focus and channel resources to curb he crisis. Fighting therefore, can only slow down development,”   he asserted.
Residents have deserted many Ijaw and Itsekiri communities, including Tsekelewin, Obgudugbudu and Opuama because of the crisis. Some Ijaw natives were fleeing to nearby Edo and Bayelsa states.
A leader from Egbokoda community, Mr Sam Megbuluba, confirmed the deployment of military personnel with gunboats in Gbokoda and other riverine communities.


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