Ondo State natives resident in Rivers State have called on the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to save them from the ill-treatment meted out to them by their host communities.
The appeal was contained in a ‘Save Our Soul’ letter made available to Journalists on Thursday, jointly signed on behalf of the affected persons, by Iseoluwa Saheyi, from Mamakri (Ajegunle) and Selofe Samagbeyi Furupaka (Ago-Eri) communities.
They explained that fate brought them to the area, where they carry out their fishing activities which they inherited from their forefathers, while lamenting that the indigenes where they carry out their work have continually exposed them to various types of inhuman treatment, despite being in the same Nigeria.
The letter read: “Specifically, between January 2021 and 19th of February, 2022, we have lost about 250 Outboard Engines, while many people have been kidnapped without knowing their whereabouts.
“The two major Communities where this evil is being perpetrated are Mamakri (Ajegunle) and Furupaka (Ago-Eri), opposite Yokoto, Bonny Local Government Area.
“Having been dehumanized and traumatized as a result of the ordeal meted on us in Rivers State, we are therefore constrained to write you officially as the Governor of Ondo State to come to our rescue in Rivers State as our people could no longer fish peacefully without Outboard Engines not being carted away or people being kidnapped.
“We also use this opportunity to call on all the traditional fathers in Ilaje, Egbe Omo Ilaje and all the Youth bodies to see this as a serious concern because we are much aware that as we are sojourning in River State, so also some people are doing same in Ilaje”, the statement stated.
This is coming two weeks after a fisherman was reported dead while scores of others were injured in Brass Island of Bayelsa State, following a pirate attack on the sea. The victims, who are said to be of Ilaje ethnic nationality from Ondo State and residing on the island, had set out to fish on the high sea.
A week after the killing, Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said it has received the situation reports of the incident.
A press statement made available to Journalists by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, in Akure the Ondo State capital explained that Akeredolu, after receiving the full brief, spoke extensively on phone with his brother Governor in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, who assured him that the situation was under control.
The governor, who stressed his administration’s commitment to the protection of lives and property of indigenes of the sunshine state, irrespective of where they are, noted that the Bayelsa State governor has assured him of the security of the people of Ilaje in Bayelsa.
“We have become aware of the situation in Bayelsa State involving our people from Ilaje in Ondo State. I immediately reached out to the Governor of Bayelsa State. We have spoken extensively and I have his assurances.
“After meetings have been held with Ilaje leaders at his behest, I have every reason to believe that he is indeed, handling the situation. I have stressed the importance of the security of our people no matter where they are.
“I want to urge our people to remain calm, forgive and forget. With the assurances of the Governor, I can assure our people that they can go about their normal duties without fear”, the governor said.
Akeredolu appealed to the people to allow reasons to prevail and not take laws into their hands, while assuring them that the situation is being closely monitored, while commiserating with the families of the victims of the incident.
Also, the House of Representatives, last Thursday, honoured victims of the attack while commiserating with their bereaved families.
The House also urged the Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Police Force and other relevant security agencies to further strengthen their security presence along the coast of Brass and its environs.
These resolutions were based on a motion moved by a member of the House, Kolade Akinjo, which was titled ‘Urgent Need to Check the Incessant Killings, Wanton Destruction of Properties and Displacement of Ilaje People in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State’.
While, moving the motion, Akinjo said, “On Monday, February 7, 2022, assailants attacked unarmed Ilaje fishermen on a fishing expedition on the high sea of Twon-Brass, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, leaving many dead, several others injured and some are still missing.
“The House is disturbed that the assailants did not only kill their victims during the attacks but also burnt their fishing boats, nets and carted away their outboard engines.
The House is concerned that IIaje people residing in Twon-Brass are fleeing the community in droves for fear of further attacks and the fishermen, who are mostly of lIaje extraction have boycotted fishing activities because of the current insecurity in the area.
In the same vein, following the alleged attack a group has warned against reprisal attacks on Ijaw ethnic group living in Ondo State.
The group under the auspices of the Ijaw National Congress, in a statement, last Sunday, by its chairman, Mr Ominidougha Ogonobibi, urged Akeredolu to intervene in the ongoing attack on Ilajes in Bayelsa State before they (Ilajes) embark on reprisal attack on Ijaws in Ondo State.
The group reacted to an alleged threat by a group in Ilaje land which allegedly threatened to embark on a possible reprisal attack on the ijaw people in the state.
The statement read, “The Ijaw National Congress, Akure chapter as a responsible organization, sympathizes with our Ilaje brothers and condemns the killing in its totality. We are also aware Bayelsa State Government is doing all within its reach to apprehend the criminals (sea pirates) and bring them to justice.
“It is, however, noteworthy that the incident is unfortunate and disgusting. The chapter wants to put it on record that, the call/threat for reprisal attack on Ijaws in Ondo State is unguarded, uncalled for, and unnecessary. Our Ilaje brothers must be reminded we have been living together as very close brothers until the unfortunate, senseless, and avoidable Ilajes/Arogbo-Ijaws crisis of 1998/1999.
“That fight would have been avoided if caution and patience had not been thrown into the bin. Today everyone was/is a victim.
“Therefore, the INC, Akure chapter is calling on Ilaje Elders and leaders of thought to stop any attempt to vent anger on our people(Ijaws) living in Ilajeland or passing through it”.
The group also called on the Ondo State government and the security agencies to investigate a threat by a group in Ilaje to embark on a reprisal attack.
“The Ondo State Government should initiate a meeting of Ilaje/Arogbo-Ijaw Elders and leaders without further delay to discuss this issue”.