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Posted by: O’Neil, South/South Regional Editor in News
Three days after deadly attacks by an Ijaw militant group, Egbema Radical Group, on Itsekiri communities of the Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, uneasy calm returned to the area yesterday.
At least 13 persons have been confirmed dead, but Itsekiri leaders told our reporter yesterday that the death toll could yet increase because dozens of victims are still missing.
“We will continue to look for them and it is when we cannot find them that we will declare them dead. But we are concerned that the death toll could be more,” our source, who asked not to be named, stated.
A breakdown of the victims exclusively obtained by our reporter indicated that five persons were killed in Aja-Amita, three in Tisun, two in Eghoro and one each in Gbokoda, Obaghoro and Ebrohimi.
The chairman of the Aja-Amita community, Mr. Isaac Dosu, identified those killed in the town as Francis Amita, George Tonmughan, the Atsanyinku brothers – Felix and Thompson- and Tonmughan Aduke.
In Tisun, a couple and their five-year-old son were killed by the rampaging warlords. Eyewitness said the couple were forced to watch as their child was thrown into the bonfire made out of their homes.
Meanwhile, the Itsekiri Development Congress (IDC) has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan and security operatives to stop the carnage in their communities.
The appeal was contained in a letter by the group to President Jonathan signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the IDC, Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh and Solomon Eweta, respectively.
They lamented that the Itsekiri have never at any time attacked their Ijaw counterparts, since the ethnic conflict began in the 90s.
“As we speak now, over 10 Itsekiri villages have been razed. Scores of Itsekiri men, women and children have been murdered in cold blood, maimed and scared. Hundreds are yet to be seen since they ran into the bush.
“The reason adduced for this latest genocide is that an Ijaw man must become the chairman of the Warri North Local Government Area at all cost. The Ijaws should be asked if we have ever prevented them from contesting for the position. It is not the Itsekiri who determine who becomes chairman, it is the electorate.
“We see this as a way to wipe out the Itsekiri people from the face of the earth in order to annex our God-given land,” the statement added.
Nevertheless, the Commanding Officer of the 13 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Koko, the headquarters of the Warri North Council, Lt. Colonel F.S Etim, told our reporter that security had been beefed around the area.
He said: “We have established some outposts in the boundary areas between Delta/Ondo and Delta/Edo to ensure that the trouble makers don’t find their way in.
“This was a pure case of criminality and it has nothing to do with the ethnic crisis as being alluded in some quarters.”
Lt. Colonel Etim stated that even Ijaw leaders were those furnishing the Joint Task Force with information needed to apprehend the masterminds of the carnage.
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