Ijaw youths, under the auspices of Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Central Zone, on Thursday staged a peaceful protest over the alleged persecution of former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete, in connection with Malabu oil deal.
The aggrieved hundreds of Ijaw youths, led by the Chairman, IYC, Central Zone, Mr. Tare Porri, called on the Federal Government to stop further intimidation, oppression and probe of Etete, saying that the former minister got his oil block licence, OPL 245 through due process.
The protesting Ijaw youths brandished placards with inscriptions such as, ‘stop oppressing Ijaw son’, ‘Ijaw will not bow to intimidation’, ‘Arrest Etete and prepare for shutdown of Niger Delta’, ‘Ijaw youths say no to oppression’, ‘We feed Nigeria’, ‘Malabo oil block, our right’, ‘Ijaws deserve oil blocks’, among others.
Addressing the crowd of protesters, Tare Porri, said the Ijaw ethnic nationality would not allow any person or group of persons hiding under the Presidency to humilitate Ijaw people.
He reminded the Federal Government that if it failed to stop the probe of Etete and decided to play politics with their modest demands, the government should stop taking oil from their environment.
He said, “Our position is that we will not allow anybody hiding under the Presidency to humiliate Ijaw people. We cannot be intimidated neither can we be blackmailed.
“We want to reaffirm our position that if the Nigerian state failed to stop persecuting our people, to stop persecuting Dan Etete and other Niger Deltans and Ijaw people who are in the oil and gas industry, they should be prepared to stop taking oil from our environment.
“We are very determined that there is no battallion of an army that can stop this decision the Ijaw people have taken. Let it be noted that Ijaw people have forewarned the Nigerian state that oil blocks and oil wells are the ancestral property of the Ijaw people and if we cannot own oil blocks and oil wells, no other human beings in Nigeria are fit and proper to own oil wells.”
He wondered why the oil block awarded to Malabo Oil and Gas, owned by Etete, is the only one the government was interested in investigating, insisting that in 1998, it was not only OPL 245 that was awarded.
Porri said, “There were other oil blocks and oil wells that were awarded and it was other indigenous Nigerian companies that also bid for them and they were awarded similar licences.
“How come that the ones that were awarded to northerners, westerners and others, we are not hearing anything. Why is it that it is the only one where an Ijaw man was awarded is the one they are interested in investigating and calling it an illegal oil block?
“Let me for the umpteenth time say that President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the process and the man came up with a report that having gone through all the processes, that the Malabu oil deal they are talking about went through due process and therefore there was nothing to hold them liable.
“We thought that by virtue of that legal opinion and advice, this matter will be put to rest. Yet, they are still interested in investigating, persecuting and then terming the oil block as an illegal sale.
“We are saying that any further attempt to investigate and persecute, they should go back and investigate all the oil blocks and oil wells that were awarded the same time with the Malabu Oil and Gas.”
He, therefore, urged President Buhari to take the issue seriously, warning that the persecution of Etete must stop.
He also warned that the persecution of Ijaw people who are in the oil and gas industry, must stop, insisting that failure to stop the persecution would be met with stiff resistance.
He said the Federal Government was playing politics with everything, noting that if the government wants one Nigeria in 2019, they should leave the Ijaw people alone.
“Please, let the Nigerian state take note that any further attempt to persecute Dan Etete, the only person, the only Ijaw man in the oil and gas, they should also resolve not to take oil from our environment and the government should resolve to get any resource from elsewhere to fund their budget,” he stated.