By Enaibo Asiayei
President of the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, FNDIC, Dr. Bello Oboko, has called for the payment of the Federal High Court, Asaba, fine of N99.9billion against the Federal Government of Nigeria for destruction of properties and loot of the communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
The fine was made over its May 2009 Major-Gen Sarkin Yarki Bello-led military JTF killing of innocent humans and destruction of several communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom including Okerenkoko, Oporoza, Kunukunuma, Kurutie, Kokodiagbene and others.
Oboko made this known during Gbaramatu Freedom Day anniversary, organized by indigenes of Gbaramatu Kingdom recently in Warri.
Chief Oboko who also tasked the Federal Government to caution oil companies to show respect for human dignity and freedom, by not operating behind military terror.
“Militarization of oil operations which provokes fear and death does not promote human dignity and freedom remained condemned. In May 2009, my report which claimed that the military killed innocent citizens and destroyed communities was denied by the invading military JTF. But my voice was amplified by Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, who equally described the invasion in genocidal terms while Amnesty International which investigated also reportedly accused the military of illegal killings.
“The Army headquarters/FG which later found reports of the alleged killings ‘disturbing’ and which admitted military operations in the area called for ceasefire and eventually granted Amnesty to alleged militants.
“The reports are available and there. I faulted the claim of the military in 2009 that the creek war against the people was because soldiers escorting oil equipment came under attack. If attacking soldiers was a dream, same soldiers guarding the oil terminals would long be easy targets”, Oboko stated.
Oboko stressed that by their own admission, the military and the oil companies were guilty of the standing position of the international organizations of conscience who stated since 1999 that no responsible oil company can operate behind the terror of armed soldiers.
Gbaramatu leadership stated that the international position against militarization of oil operations was there years before the Federal High Court gavelled the 2009 military killings and destruction of Gbaramatu Ijaw Communities as illegal.
It will be recalled that in 2013, Gbaramatu leaders went to court and seeked the declaration of the raid of their communities and the consequent bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdomas unconstitutional, as the militant camps were not located in the communities.
They also accused the JTF of wanton destruction of properties and loot of the communities and consequently demanded N100 billion in damages.
However, a Federal High Court sitted in Asaba in 2013 declared that the bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom, comprising 53 communities, by the Joint Task Force JTF during the military raid of 2009 is unconstitutional.
The court consequently ordered the Federal Government to pay communities that make up the Kingdom the sum of N100 billion in damages.
In his judgement Justice Ibrahim Buba held that the massive bombardment, which resulted in the demolition, destruction of houses, household furniture/wares, boats, canoes, domestic animals and displacement of members of the communities, was a clear violation of Section 217(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In suit number FHC/ASB/CS/138.2009 between Chief Nelson Ogelegbanwei and 52 other plaintiffs versus the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and two other defendants, they contended that the action violates 217(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Constitution.
While granting the prayers of the plaintiffs, Justice Buba averred that the 3rd defendant (JTF) acted outside the law by destroying lives and property of the 53 communities, more so his failure to appear in court to state their own side of the story was an acceptance of the claims of the plaintiffs.
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