Ahead of today’s (Monday) visit by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led Federal Government delegation to the restive oil-rich Niger Delta, youths in the region on Sunday released a 22-point demand, including the immediate release of detained activists and ex-militants arrested by operatives of the Nigerian military in the region.
They also declared their support for the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum to negotiate between the people of the region and the Federal Government to ensure sustainable peace in the region.
They also demanded the immediate restructuring of the Presidential Amnesty Programme so as to meet the needs of all ethnic nationalities in the region.
They equally asked the government to award the contract of securing the oil and gas facilities in the region to youths from the various ethnic nationalities.
The demands were contained in separate statements issued by the Ijaw Youth Council and the Urhobo Youth Leaders Association.
The statement by the IYC was signed by the group’s spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare, while the one by UYLA was signed by its National President and Secretary, Mr. Francis Arhiyor and Mr. Vincent Oyibode respectively.
The two groups maintained that the release of those being held by security agencies would signal government’s readiness to engage in dialogue with the people.
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Omare of the IYC said, “Ahead of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s visit to the Niger Delta starting from Oporoza in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State on Monday, January 16, 2017, the Ijaw Youth Council has called on the Federal Government to release all the Niger Delta activists and ex-agitators in detention without trial.
“The IYC believes that releasing those in illegal Federal Government’s detention would be evidence of the government’s sincerity to peacefully resolve the Niger Delta crisis. Several Niger Delta activists and ex-agitators, including Bounanawei Smith, Ezekiel Daniel, Alex Odogu, Aboy Muturu, Monday Ebimene, Churchill Oghoneye and others, are in different military detention centres without trial.”
The IYC pointed out that the Niger Delta people could not meaningfully dialogue with the Federal Government in the face of intimidation, arrests and militarisation in the region, urging the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to respect the wishes and position of the oil-rich region by immediately demilitarising the region.
On its own part, UYLA, while thanking the Federal Government for initiating the visit, called for true fiscal federalism as well as an increase in derivation benefit to the region from 13 to 50 per cent within every period of five years.
The group also demanded an urgent repeal of all unjust and oppressive legislation, laws, policies that vested ownership and control of oil and gas resources in the country on the Federal Government.
It equally called for the abrogation of all anti-federal and inequitable laws and policies related to the oil and gas industry.