Ijaw youths and women came out in hundreds yesterday to protest against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Yenogoa. The protest was done over what they described as the “continuous and constant harassment” of the former First Family.
The protest was led by the President of Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, worldwide, Udengs Eradiri, President of Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Wing, Dr Gilbert Langour, and Women Leader of Ogbia Brotherhood Women Wing, Ms. Unity Ototo. The busy Sani Abacha expressway was locked down as the protesters converged on the road as early as 8a.m., causing motorists to make detour through the Swali-Oxbow Lake flank, Amarata and Okaka axis of Mbiama-Yenagoa Road. They were armed with placards, some of which read: “EFCC leave Patience Jonathan alone,” “EFCC stop harassing Jonathan,” “EFCC follow due process,” “EFCC obey rule of law” “Give us jobs not soldiers” “Unfreeze Jonathan’s account,” “EFCC return Bayelsa funds,” “We need true federalism,” “deploy bulldozers, not armoured tankers.”
Eradiri said: “We want to show the world how peaceful the people of the Niger Delta can be, especially the Ijaws. You know we are the largest ethnic group in the Niger Delta and fourth largest in the country. Usually, we are painted in the negative light but today we have proved to the world that we are peaceful. “We want to send a message to the Federal Government on the attitude of the EFCC towards the First Family from the Niger Delta region.”
We have had many First families in Nigeria, but only one from the Niger Delta would be continuously and constantly harassed by the machinery of the state, especially the EFCC. “We want to call on President Muhmmadu Buhari to please respect the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. At least, this man brought peace to the country, he handed over peacefully to the president and he did not go to court and allowed him to run his government. “The president should focus on governance and stop vilifying the former First Family of the Niger Delta. Look at Nigeria, we are here today economically is as a result of the conduct of the EFCC towards the Maritime University. The handling of the matter is what has caused this country to lose N2trillion. This country has lost a lot of security personnel, the economy is gone because of the attitude of the EFCC when it concerned issues from the Niger Delta.
“Our appeal is that you must respect Jonathan just as you respect other past presidents. They have frozen his account, they are not paying his allowances, and the security agents around him do not get what is due them. Why is the president victimizing Dr Goodluck Jonathan? When we talk about aggression towards Patience Jonathan, she is not the only First Lady. She has been the wife of a former deputy governor, governor, vice president and president, are you expecting her to be a poor woman? In recent times, a former First Lady in the country was awarded with a university license.
“We are peaceful; we are sending a message to the president to leave our first family alone. “The other issue affecting us is the sale of national assets. We are not against the sale but what we are saying is that if you are selling the NLNG in Bonny, then the Bony people must be given the chance of first refusal to buy the assets.”