There were pockets of protests in Delta and Bayelsa states over Tuesday’s abduction of the National President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Timothy Igbifa and the expiration of the 30-day ultimatum given to President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The protests, staged by angry ijaw youths in front of NDDC state offices along the Edjeba area of Warri in Delta State and the NDDC office in Yenezue-gene area of Yenagoa in Bayelsa, disrupted vehicular movements and business activities for hours.
The protesting Ijaw Youths were relatively peaceful and armed with placards with inscriptions such as “Restructure Nigeria Now!”, “IOCs must not remmit N1.6 billion dollars to NDDC Now!”, “We seek justice in NDDC Now!” and “FG should appoint substantive board in NDDC now”.
They accused President Buhari of sponsoring the abduction of Igbifa.
They warned that the next protest on the pending issues of the appointment of substantive board for the NDDC, tenure of the Sole Administrator and other issues concerning the development of the region will be total and a “mass action”.
The national leadership of the IYC in a statement issued via email to newsmen in Yenagoa, declared solidarity for the protesters and urged them not to allow criminally sponsored elements to infiltrate their midst while the protest lasts in Bayelsa and Delta states.
The communique issued by the IYC leadership at the end of an emergency meeting was signed by Savior Olali, Deputy President; Ebilade Ekerefe, National spokesman; Timilaemi Ebifoubo, National Treasurer; Tina Tubusi, Woman leader; Abiye Achepaka, National Financial Secretary; Fubara Isreal, National Director of Mobilisation; Otiene Amafina, Assistant Secretary General; Digitemie Pogonyo, Speaker of Mobile Parliament and the Chairmen of Zones and Chapters of the Council.
In the communique, they alleged that the abduction of Igbifa was sponsored by President Buhari.
The statement said, ”Though the abduction of the IYC President, Deacon Timothy Igbifa, came to us as a shock and is 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 30-day 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 has abruptly terminate 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 engagement 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.”