Tension as DSS arrests monarch in Bayelsa

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Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

The arrest of His Royal Highness, King Walter Agri, the traditional ruler of Agrissaba in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, by operatives of the Department of State Services, is causing tension in the oil-rich community.

The DSS had arrested the monarch on August 7 over his alleged involvement in a protest against the Nigeria Agip Oil Company.

It was learnt that angry youths and elders of the community had staged a protest against the multinational oil company last Friday over alleged non-payment of compensation for oil spill in the community.

They were also said to have demonstrated over non- payment of contract done for remediation of creeks and canal since three year as well as Agip’s alleged refusal to award surveillance contract and clearing of pipeline routes to indigenes.

The elders of the community, in a statement on Thursday, by Chief Tobin Esau, alleged that the arrest of their traditional ruler was preceded by armed invasion of the community by youths and attacks on some indigenes with various degrees of injuries.

Esau said, “The community is a symbolism of peace and tranquility based on the ancient and historic antecedents of our progenitors.

“The serene nature of the community was distorted after a peaceful protest by the community over the unwholesome activities of Agip and its total neglect of the community in its developmental agenda on August 6, 2016.

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“We wish to condemn the barbaric manner and treatment that was visited on our reverred King. It is a fact that the DSS has no regard and respect for traditional institution in Ijaw land.

“Has the DSS arrested any village head, district head, or an Emir in the northern states such as Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Adamawa as result of the activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen? Why did they arrest our king over peaceful protest by the people to express their displeasure over Agip’s insensitivity? ”

He said the community had not benefited anything substantially from the oil company to justify its enormous contribution in terms of crude oil and gas supply production.

He said the community was invaded by armed youths with dangerous weapons and unleashed violence on the entire community on the same day the protest was embarked upon.

Esau claimed the armed miscreants that invaded the community was engaged by a contractor working for Agip to provide security in the power park in the community, saying that during the invasion, their properties were destroyed and some of their youths sustained gunshot wounds and machete cuts.

He said their community King was arrested by men of the DSS on the August 7, 2016 about 10pm at Omoku Agip quarters in a commando-like manner.

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Esau said, “We urge the DSS to concentrate on their traditional role and not to engage in act that will portray the institution as another Gestapo police set up to harass innocent people.

“We call on the DSS to arrest those bandits that used dangerous weapons to unleash violence on the community.  We condemn the continuous detention of our king, Walter Agri, and call for his immediate and unconditional release from detention.”



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