Niger Delta Women call for an end to genocide

PRESS STATEMENT — May19, 2009
STOP THE GENOCIDE IN DELTA STATE: THE CRY OF NIGER DELTA WOMEN

We, the women of the Niger Delta have noted with dismay the horrifying act of genocide meted out to innocent indigenes and inhabitants of Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta State by operatives of the Joint Task Force. This is happening despite repeated declaration by the Yar’adua government of its good intentions to address the issues and the neglect of the Niger Delta people. By this action, it has been revealed that the President feigned his sympathy for the Niger Delta problems with his much acclaimed 7-point agenda, the setting up of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta as well as the establishment of the Ministry for the Niger Delta. But the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umar Musa Yar’dua could not pretend for long too. Perhaps, he could have been labeled a rebel to deviate from the path towed by previous administrations, especially the Obasanjo administration that ordered the razing down of Odi, a Niger Delta community, in 1999.

Thus, the Yar’adua administration has manufactured its own excuse for a greater massacre of Niger Delta women and children under the guise of fishing out militants. Beginning Wednesday, May 13, 2009 the Joint Task Force has been bombing Kurutie, Kokodiagbene, Kunukunuma, Oporoaza and Okerenkoko communities in Gbaramatu kingdom of Delta State, killing innocent persons, majority of them, women and children. Many more persons are rendered homeless; the Punch of Monday, May 18, 2009 reported that about 20,000 people are trapped in these riverine communities because the waterways are blocked by the JTF.

The displaced persons who took refuge in the Ogbe-Ijoh General Hospital were further made to flee the camp due to the invasion by soldiers from the Joint Task Force. As at Tuesday, May 19, 2009, the soldiers proceeded to carry out a house to house gruesome burning of persons and properties Okerenkoko community. The implication is that the re-branding Nigeria project has succeeded in rebranding everyone in the Niger Delta militants, including women, children, governors, aged, kings, chiefs, physically challenged et al.

Thousands of harmless women and children have been killed while some are displaced. Schooling has been disrupted for a great majority of children in the Gbaramatu kingdom of Niger Delta; having access to food and shelter has suddenly become a luxury; safety & security is far from the people; development has become a mockery; access to sanitary facilities for the women is out of the question. Many are scrambling to safety but no thoroughfare. The cries of the Niger Delta women have re-echoed. The Federal government is the killer of women and children. Instead of giving them food, education, health and security; the women and children of the Niger Delta are given bullets, blood, grief and poverty. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

PEACE HAS BEEN SLAUGHTERED! WOMEN HAVE BEEN VIOLATED! It seems like another Odi, which was destroyed by the Obasanjo’s government. Must the Federal government always turn the nozzle of the gun against the vulnerable people it is expected to protect?

We strongly condemn this act of violence against harmless women and children in the Gbaramatu kingdom. We are calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to stop this callous and merciless action against the communities of the Niger Delta.

We appeal to all human rights groups, women rights advocates in Nigeria and the international community to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw all military forces from the communities of the Niger Delta.

WE SAY NO TO THE JOINT TASK FORCE!
WE SAY NO TO THE GRUESOME MURDER OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE NIGER DELTA!!
WE SAY NO TO MILITARY INVASION OF THE NIGER DELTA!!!
Signed:
Annkio Briggs – Agape Birthrights
Emem J. Okon – Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre
Hilda Dokubo – Centre for Creative Education (CCAE)
Ifie Lott – Women Light Foundation
Ibiba Don Pedro – Centre for Development Communication
Lilian George – Niger Delta for Justice
Constance Meju – Amazonna Women Leadership Initiative
National Network for Women in Niger Delta Security and Peace Building