Six months after Ogoni and people of the Niger Delta region shut down the Ogoni Section of the East West Road following a 7-days mother of all protests over the deplorable state of the road, a coalition of Ogoni Youths and Ogoni Ex-Militants Forum have threatened another protest beginning from March 1, 2022 if the federal government failed to commence work on the road.
Making their intentions known through a notice served the Inspector General of Police jointly signed by President-General of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), Comrade Legborsi Yamaabana and, Leader, Ogoni Ex-Militants Forum, Prince Mahmud Kirika, the aggrieved youths said the planned protest will last several weeks, and urged the police chief to provide them with security personnel during the protest.
The youths said the planned action which they tagged a mega protest, further stemmed from the fact that the federal government failed to transfer the East West road from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) as directed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had during Ogoni leaders’ visit on him in State House on the 22nd October, 2021 directed that the Ogoni axis of the East West road be transferred to the PIDF to ensure completion and delivery of the project withing the lifespan of this current administration. Regrettably, more than three (3) months after, this directive is yet to be complied with”, it noted.
In the letter, copies of which were sent to Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike; National Security Adviser; national and international media organizations as well as the DSS and several other organizations, the youths drew the attention of the police chief to a letter written to the Chief of Staff to the President dated November 11, 2021 in which the OYF requested the official transfer of the road from the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to PIDF as directed by the President.
“Going by the 2022 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs(MNDA) as signed by the President, it is obvious that MNDA does not have the required money to fund the East West road project, as such the Presidential directive of the transfer of the road to the PIDF should be strictly complied with in the interest of all stakeholders”, they youths declared.
Most worrisome, according to the youths, was a recent release of the sum of N21bn by the NNPC for the construction of roads across the country, which to their chagrin, the road that led to two refineries owned by the NNPC was ‘deliberately excluded’.
The youths cried out: “This is injustice of the highest order and it is not acceptable. Every Nigerian citizen whether acting individually or in concert with others, reserves the right to associate, protest, organize a rally, assemble in meetings, and participate in public processions and demonstrations which are expressions of the constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and association as guaranteed under Sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The Ogoni youths who said it would carry out the protest alongside other stakeholders in the Niger |Delta, assured that the protest shall be peaceful and non-violent, adding that their action would be carried out withing the ambit of the law and shall not lead to a breach of public peace.