Ijaw youths shut content board for not relocating IOCs offices
• Bayelsa govt, IYC condemn killing of soldiers
Ijaw youths have shut down business activities at the operational headquarters of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The youths, under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) worldwide led by the Chairman of the Central Zone, Comrade Tari Tori, said the action was, among others, a result of alleged refusal by the board to compel the international oil companies (IOCs) to relocate to the Niger Delta.
They accused the NCDMB of operating an empty office in Bayelsa without notable directors and top management staff while opening operating branch offices in Abuja and Lagos.
The youths demanded that the Federal Government should immediately mandate all IOCs to relocate to the region, and that the executive secretary of the board must operate from the office in Bayelsa, instead of Abuja as, according to them, the law of the board demands.
The IYC also wants the board to immediately cancel the two offices created in Abuja and Lagos and relocate all NCDMB offices to the Niger Delta.While addressing the angry youths, Tori alleged that the NCDMB contravened the Nigerian Content Act, section 71, sub-paragraph 3, which they claimed stipulates that the local content board has the powers to establish branch offices within oil and gas producing states.
Lamenting that the board opened offices in Abuja and Lagos but has failed to open branches in the oil producing states, the IYC said it would not allow the NCDMB to divide the people and their common interest. According to him, all directors and the executive secretary spend time everyday in other offices in Lagos and Abuja but come once in three months to the headquarters.
A member of the board who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian yesterday that it was surprising that while the youths were pleading for the relocation of multinational oil companies, they were harassing the few that were in the region.
The source said that indeed the NCDMB maintained a liaison office in Abuja that has only five members of staff, adding that the office was hired because of the relationship between the company, the petroleum ministry and other such agencies. He condemned the turn of events during the protest, noting that what the youths were doing was capable of scaring away would-be investors from the region.
“We are not even thinking of relocating. Where are we going to move our 17-storey headquarters which is already in the 12th floor? The ED already explained everything to the IYC worldwide leadership that visited him, why is the zonal body now overriding the national? “ he queried.
In another development, the IYC condemned the killing of four soldiers and a civilian by unknown gunmen at Ekeremor Local Government of Bayelsa on Monday.
The gunmen suspected to be militants had on Monday ambushed and killed four soldiers and a civilian along the waterways of Letugbene. A statement by its spokesman, Henry Iyallah, described the killing as sad, unfortunate and barbaric considering the fact that not too long ago, soldiers were murdered at Ogbugbagbene community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
“We call on the security apparatus to investigate and unravel those behind these dastardly acts. These unfortunate killings do not reflect the position of the Ijaw people.
The IYC extends its sympathy to the military authorities and the families of the soldiers and civilian who lost their lives in this unfortunate incident while also expressing their cooperation to wipe out criminal elements from Ijaw communities.”
According to the group, it is not part of the culture of Ijaw people to take the lives of human beings for no just case. “These actions are anti-Ijaw interest and against the interest of the communities close to where the killings took place in Bayelsa State.”
The state government has also condemned the killing of the soldiers. In a statement, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite expressed serious regret over the unfortunate incident, describing it as unwarranted, barbaric and totally unacceptable.
It was learnt that the militants overpowered the soldiers, seized their arms, moved them to a location in the creeks and shot them dead While one of the civilians, a boat driver was said to have escaped, the only survivor of the attack reportedly jumped into the water before he was shot by the hoodlums.