Group calls on Okowa to rebuild burnt houses in Ayama, Epame communities

THE Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP) has called on the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to rebuild houses in Ayama and Epame communities razed by Ijaw invaders in the wake of violence between Ijaws and Urhobos recently.

Executive Director of the Human Rights group, Oghenejabor Ikimi, made the plea weekend in Warri, saying the action would calm frayed nerves and engender an enduring peace in the area.

Ikimi, who expressed displeasure at the quantum of destruction, also called on security agencies – the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Police to immediately disarm the gunmen-bearing youths and clear Ayama, Epame, Onyobru and Egbo-Erhien of armed miscreants.

He said this would help to secure the lives and properties of residents and natives in the area, as well as ensure the prompt release of persons allegedly abducted during the crisis.

The human rights lawyer, however, condemned the Udu chapter of the youth wing of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) for issuing a 14-day ultimatum to Ijaws resident in Udu kingdom to quit, describing it as unconstitutional.

It will be recalled that Ayama and Epame, two communities that make up the 32 communities in Udu Kingdom were, recently, invaded by armed Isaba youths from Warri South West Local Government Area.

Beside age-long litigation over land that’s still pending at the Supreme Court, the recent crisis was reportedly ignited by the refusal of Ayama youths to allow the Ijaws of Isaba to use their community as a base for their illegal oil bunkering activities.

The Ijaw youths were said to have crossed over the river separating Isaba and the invaded communities of Udu Local Government Area, which claimed the life of an indigene of Ayama, Obruche Sunday and the abduction of Mrs Baby Ofuru College and her son, Edirin College.

A couple, Mr and Mrs Austin Ovedje Oduaran and Mr Pudin, whose whereabouts are unknown till date, where also allegedly abducted by the rampaging Isaba boys.