A note to General Lucky Irabor, Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff on the threat to lives of innocent Niger Deltans by military personnel posted to secure crude oil facilities in the region.
By GbaramatVoice Editorial Board
GbaramatuVoice is in agreement with the generality of Nigerians that General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor CFR psc NAM GSS ndc FCMH, Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, has surpassed a very big leadership challenge which has to do with credibility. This assessment is predicated by two propelling factors. While the first has to do with his track record as Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, the second consideration is largely anchored on the fact that he has within the period under review matched words with deeds.
It is not a surprise to the management of GbaramatuVoice Newspaper that he was recently honoured with a national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) by President Muhammadu Buhari, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was a well deserved honour and we also use this medium to felicitate with you. The newspaper is particularly with your unalloyed push for sustained peace and security in the Niger Delta region in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
However, like every new invention that comes with opportunities and challenges, GbaramatuVoice, a newspaper operating largely in the Niger Delta region and watchdog of the society, is constrained to bring to your notice the inglorious activities involving series of infractions, violations and threats to lives of innocent Niger Deltans by military personnel usually comprises of Army and Navy, posted to secure crude oil facilities in the region.
Notably, while it is an established fact that achieving a seamless protection of these crude oil facilities will among other demands necessitate setting up of checkpoints at every road, river, creek and estuary in the region. GbaramatuVoice is however alarmed that these checkpoints that currently dots the region have to our greatest dismay and consternation of the peace loving Niger Deltans, become a veritable place for open threat to riverine dwellers, innocent travelers, visitors, media professionals, researchers and development professionals, among others, on a lawful mission to the creeks, who mistakenly contravenes their confecting and unpublicized rules, commandments and policies even when these ‘set rules’ are not in tendon with civility.
GbaramatuVoice crew are not in any way insulated from this military harassment and threat to live of those they (the military Personnel) ought to protect.
Take as an illustration, on Friday, November 4, 2022, the GbaramatuVoice crew on an official assignment travelled by water from Warri waterside to Obotobo community, Ogulagha Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state. The journey which was scheduled to last for about 1 hour, 30 minutes was moving on smoothly until we got to one of the military checkpoints. Approaching the checkpoint, the driver instructed that we raise our hands and we totally complied.
On that day, in that place and that time, despite this compliance, the soldiers weren’t satisfied as one of them queried why we failed to raise our hands at a distance of 100metres to the checkpoint. He unwarrantedly threatened to “open fire”, kill and ‘’waste’’ our lives on the boat and nothing will happen.
Very instructive, like previous experiences from the generality of the Niger Deltans, the questions that beg for answer(s) from the above encounter are: How will first time visitors to the region know that such ‘decree’ is in place when there is not enough sensitization? How will travelers determine, spot or figure out the 100meter distance? Who placed the “decree”? Why must Niger Deltans raise their hands at every security checkpoint when the region is not in a war situation?
Even if answer(s) is/are provided to the question(s), it will not in any appreciable way erase the fact that the region is currently troubled as a result of the ‘antics’ of the military officers posted to the region. Riverine dwellers are living in fear because the whole environment is militarized. The presence of gunboats that litters the region daily traumatizes the children and subjugates the elders. If the army can threaten media professionals on lawful duty, it will send signal as to what will happen to helpless and hapless riverine community dwellers.
GbaramatuVoice holds the opinion that the region needs peace but they will not appreciate becoming prisoners of peace.
Thus, the editorial board of the Newspaper requests that you call these officers operating in the region to order. This must be done not for political reasons but for the current peace existing in the region.
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