KINSMEN of embattled former militant, Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo, in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Givernment Area of Delta State have given President Muhammadu Buhari one week ultimatum to release 10 students and palace workers arrested 47 days ago by rampaging members of the Joint Task Force (JTF).
The kinsmen, mostly women, led by the national women leader of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Vero Tangbuwei, who led a protest on Wednesday in Warri, Delta State, demanded the immediate release of the teenagers or be ready for a showdown in Abuja.
The women, most of whom are mothers of the arrested suspects, who have been denied sitting for their May/June WAEC and NECO exams, marched through the NPA axis of the busy Warri/Sapele road wailing and weeping profusely while rolling on the floor.
They were also dressed in black attires and armed with placards with inscriptions such as “Mr President, free our sons,” “46 days on, nowhere to be found,” “they are not Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), they are students of Gbaraun Grammar School, Oporoza” and “this is pure oppression, free our innocent children,” among others.
Leader of the women, Chief Tangbuwei, while addressing journalists, said that they were afraid the young boys might have been killed summarily, asking the military to release them if their allegation was unfounded.
“For two months now, we have not heard from these children. At least, they should arraign them for trail or hand them over to the police.
“We don’t know where they are, we believe they have killed our children. FG should bring our children.
“Army should bring our children. Buhari should bring our children. You can see the mothers, they are crying.
“It is now I know army, police are all liars. Our innocent children, they put arms and ammunition on their throat and said they are avengers. They’ve never carried gun one day.
“Gbaramatu people are peace-loving and law-abiding people. Our mothers are crying. We don’t know where they have kept them. The parents have not allowed me to rest,” she noted.
According to the women leader, Buhari would have much to contend with if the boys are eventually declared dead by the military.
“If the boys have been killed, they’ll have to kill all of us.
“We give Buhari and his people only one week as mothers to bring out the boys. We will match to Abuja so that they can kill all of us. Buhari will have to kill all of us,” she warned.
Mother of one of the arrested 10 teenagers, Mrs Endurance Oyatiede, who was in tears, said death, might be the arbiter between him and President Buhari if her only son was eventually declared dead in the hands of the soldiers.
Speaking in pidgin, Mrs Oyatiede threatened amid tears that “My pikin, Friday, 17- year-old wan write exam, he no fit write am.
“So, make una tell Buhari make he release my pikin. The breast wey I give my pikin suck they pain me.
“Buhari Mama give Buhari breast suck, im (Buhari) come arrest ma pikin. I won see ma pikin o.
“Na only that pickin I born for Gbaramatu kingdom. I go die because of ma pikin and Buhari go die too.”
Students from Gbaramatu under the umbrella of National Association of Gbaramatu Students (NAGS), who joined the mass protest in black attires, appealed to Buhari to immediately order for the release of the students and palace staff.
Comrade Freedom Abraye, who spoke on behalf of the President, National Association of Gbaramatu Students, Comrade Seiyefa Ekpemupolo, said the manner by which soldiers invaded Oporoza and whisked away the 10 boys smacked of oppression, impunity and prosecution on the part of the Federal Government.
“My younger brothers are among the 10 boys arrested. They are students of Gbaraun Grammar School, Oporoza, who were whisked away by the military out of their sleeping beds.
“This is a sign of impunity, persecution and oppression of innocent students and people of the kingdom.
“For this, some of these students have missed their examinations billed to take place months back.
“And these are students who have no clue of what is going on in the country.
Our students are suffering for what they know nothing about. Some of the youths are also staff of the palace of the traditional ruler.
“For 46 days now, we’ve not heard from the students; we don’t know how they are faring wherever they are, we don’t have a clue of where they are,” Comrade Abraye lamented.
He called on the FG to release the boys in order to douse the tension that is beginning to mount in the community, especially among the students of the Grammar school.
It will be recalled that members of the JTF were deployed to Oporoza in the wake of bombing of oil and gas pipelines late May to smoke out members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) who have been claiming responsibility for the continued bombing of oil and gas pipeline in the region.