Several Ijaw villages lining the coastal part of Bayelsa state have been razed down allegedly by rampaging soldiers, reports reaching BigPen Online say.
Sources said that soldiers had torched several houses in the Toru-Ndoro community, in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state where a military official was killed last week by suspected militants.
Our source said that soldiers shelled the community for about ten hours between 10:pm on Saturday and 7:am on Sunday morning.
About 50 houses was said to have been burnt by the rampaging soldiers, who were claimed to be on a reprisal attack over the beheading of their colleagues last week by some ex-militants operating in the Ndoro axis.
Although, the details are still sketchy at the moment, several lives were said to have been lost on the burning spree of the unruly soldiers.
The source disclosed that an ex-militant leader from Ogulagha Kingdom, Delta State, Mr. Bonny Gawei, who was said to have accompanied the beheaded security operative to Ndoro on a peace mission, was taken away by the soldiers.
Bonny Gawei’s whereabout is still unknown as at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, led by Eric Omare, a lawyer has called on President Buhari and the military authority to halt the bombardment of the communities in the Niger Delta in order to avoid a repeat of similar past situations in Odi, Bayelsa state and Ajapa, Ondo state.
The foremost Ijaw youth group said that efforts are being made to bring the criminals who beheaded the security operative to justice, wondered why the army decided to invade and bomb the communities.
IYC, added that while it does not support the criminal activities of certain individuals in the region, it will be tantamount to gross injustice if the sins of few individuals are visited on the residents of the region.
It further explained that it has received several distress calls from residents and indigenes of Toru-Ndoro community to the effect that military officers who are purpotedly on a manhunt for alleged killers of a security operative have invaded and burnt more than 50 houses.
The IYC in strongest term condemned the alleged beheading of a security operative by some criminals operating within the Ndoro axis and affirmed its strong support for all efforts to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.
The group said; ”However, we hold the strong view that it is extremely wrong and condemnable for security agents to invade and burn down an entire community in the name of looking for criminals just as it has happened in other Niger Delta communities such as Odi in Bayelsa state, Ajapa in Ondo state, Ajakarama in Delta state and now Toru-Ndoro in Bayelsa state.
”We demand that the few persons who are involved in criminality should be separated from the rest of the community and made to face the full weight of the law. In most cases, the people and communities where these criminal elements operate from are usually the first victims of their criminal activities.
”At the time of issuing this press statement, the whereabout of Mr. Bonny Gawei, an ex-militant leader from Ogulagha Kingdom, Delta state who accompanied the beheaded security operative to Ndoro on a peace mission is still unknown despite the fact that he too is an Ijaw.
”The IYC, the Ijaw nation in particular and Niger Deltans in general do not support the activities of the few criminal elements. We have severally expressed our determination to work with security agencies to fish out these criminals because it is not part of our way of live.
”However, the entire community must not be made to suffer for the crimes of few persons. If these were to be the case, then all the communities in the Boko Haram affected North East of Nigeria would have been burnt down by now.”
The IYC wonders why the people and communities of the Niger Delta are always given different treatment by security agencies.