As the four-day burial programme for the late former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, ended yesterday with a thanksgiving service in Ammasoma, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) cautioned against an alleged plot by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The umbrella body of Ijaw youths worldwide urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the anti-graft agency to shelve any such plan to persecute the former president, insisting that such a move would spell doom for the country and the government.
At a press conference to mark the end of the burial programme , the IYC President, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said almost everybody that had close relationship with the former president had been arrested by the EFCC.
The IYC president particularly condemned the recent arrest and detention of Jonathan’s cousin, Mr. Robert Azibola , a contractor over an alleged $40million financial fraud.
Eradiri said Ijaw youths would not allow Azibola, Jonathan or any rising Ijaw leader to be persecuted by the EFCC the way the Federal Government dealt with the late Alamieyeseigha.
He said: “They have arrested almost all our people. Azibola was arrested by the EFCC and we are calling on the EFCC to stop persecuting him further and charge him to court if there are issues.
“They detained him for a long time forcing him to make statements to indict former President Jonathan. Azibola was a businessman, contractor and has the right like every Nigerian to get contracts. Why will the Niger Delta case be a different one?”
He added: “We noticed that the same way they persecuted Alamieyeseigha has continued. After Goodluck Jonathan, our people who contributed in that administration are being persecuted by this government.
“The recent one is the ploy to arrest Goodluck Jonathan which is unfolding everyday. This must stop. President Goodluck Jonathan is the most performing president that Nigeria has ever had. We are proud of him. Everyday there is a calculated attempt to whittle down the achievements of President Jonathan. We call on Nigerians to mount pressure on the government to focus on leading Nigeria aright rather than looking for ways to bring down the achievements of Jonathan.
“Buhari should please focus on governance rather than persecution of people who have added value. We are not happy about it and today we use Alamieyeseigha’s death as a point of contact. The world has seen that from Alamieyeseigha it has trickled down to all the Niger Delta people.”
On the alleged removal of 10 per cent community equity from the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Eradiri said they would no longer beg for the inclusion of the equity.
He said they expected the country to have known that community ownership would ameliorate the years of crisis in the Niger Delta region.
“For us , we will not beg for it. We will not even lobby anybody. The oil is our oil and we will take it. If they like, they should put it if they don’t like they should leave it. We expect that this country should have commonsense by including community participation.
“On the issue of pipeline surveillance, this 10 per cent would have covered for pipeline surveillance. Once the people know that they have 10 per cent in this business, they will protect it”, he said.