FOLLOWING renewed ethnic clashes between neighbouring Ijaws and Itsekiris in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, the Federal Government has deployed more soldiers to the warring communities being an aftermath of Tuesday’s killing of innocent persons by some militant groups, alleged to be Ijaws.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the latest development was orchestrated by a gun duel between soldiers and Ijaw youths on Wednesday night.
It was gathered on Wednesday that communities, such as Gbokoda, Udo, Ajameta, Obaghoro and Ayerode-Zion, which were under attack during the mayhem, have been deserted following threats of reprisal attacks by both sides. Many Itsekiris had fled their war torn abode to seek refuge in towns like Warri and environs.
Although many leaders of thoughts from both ethnic groups were not reachable to speak on the renewed feud between the two ethnic groups, an Ijaw opinion leader, Comrade Felix Adanse, intimated that peace could only return to the communities if the oppression and marginalisation of Ijaws by neighbouring Itsekiris is resolved.
Adanse hinged the skirmish on alleged political imbalance and the perpetual undermining of the Ijaws in their quest for political emancipation, which he said, was the major cause of the age-long crisis between his people and Itsekiris.
He frowned at Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, whom he said, hailed from the local government area and seemed not ready to correct the injustice and the inhuman treatment being meted out to Ijaws.
According to him, several attempts have been made by Ijaw leaders to ensure that the issue is nipped in the bud, lamenting that no appreciable and fruitful solution has been effected.
Meanwhile, an Itsekiri leader, Comrade Omolubi Newuwumi, blamed Ijaw youths for the crisis that claimed several lives and the destruction of property worth millions of naira.
He said it was the same Ijaw militant youths that hijacked some boats and kidnapped passengers travelling to their destinations in Benin River area some time ago that also masterminded the Tuesday attack.
Omolubi, who is the President of Itsekiri Development Association, therefore, urged both the state government and security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous act and bring them to book.
The Ijaws had demanded that the chairmanship position of the council be allocated to them as a minimum condition to guarantee peace in the area. It will be recalled that the Itsekiri group, which has six electoral wards in the council area, usually produces the council boss while their Ijaw counterpart, which has four electoral wards, occupy the position of the vice-chairman of the LGA.
The Ijaw had protested that they were tired of playing a second fiddle, adding that the population figure produced by the National Population Commission (NPC), and delineation of electoral wards carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which gave the Itsekiri an edge over them, were fraudulent.
The state government and the security agencies had made futile attempts to douse the tension in Warri North LGA before the situation degenerated on Tuesday which claimed over five lives including that of a five-year old.