Red Flag (Warri) from CIEPD CWC

15 March 2016 by Election Reports 333 Views
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In 2003, there were agitation/mobilization against voters registration exercise by the then Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC),

On March 3 2003 a 7days ultimatum was given to the federal government, the animosity between the Warri Ijaws/itsekiri’s also increased, people were verbally advised to leave the creeks because the water is “rough”. Much attention was not paid to these looming signs of conflict.

Although the March 10 deadline passed without any incident, on March 12, an incident between naval personnel and some of the Ijaw militants sparked the already tensed environment into violence. On March 17, the Itsekiri claimed that an Ijaw militia group attacked some Itsekiri villages near Escravos killing dozens of civilians. Over the months that followed, there was full scale war as several Itsekir/ijaw villages were sacked in what appeared to have been well-organized raids; communities were razed down, thousands of people were killed and displaced.
It took invention that span about over 2 to 3 years to bring back normalcy to the communities from NGOs and government.

Since 2014 there have been threats and counter threat on the Export Processing Zone. On three occasions, the ground breaking ceremony of the EPZ has been postponed by Mr. President as a result of the Ijaw threats. It was reported over the weekend that the “The Ijaw youths shot into the air near the EPZ site to scare the Itsekiri, but nobody was injured.” “This was also said to be a warning strike”

started mobilizing the Warri Ijaws against voters registration exercise, demanding for delineations of wards. On March 3, 2003, FNDIC issued a 7 days Ultimatum to the Nigeria government to meet a series of demands which included; that INEC should disregard the fraudulent voters registration exercise earlier conducted in Warri South West Council until INEC/DSIEC is able to conduct a fair and just delineation of electoral wards in strict compliance with the relevant principle and guidelines in the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) and the operational 1991 Population census as obtainable elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, withdrawal of troops from Ijaw communities, immediate withdrawal of of the onshore/offshore dichotomy bill, implementation of findings of the Justice Alhassan Idoko Commission of inquiry and a call for a Sovereign National Conference.
A 21 one days ultimatums was given by FENDIC, people were asked to vacate because the “River will be hot”

The Warri crisis dates back to the colonial era. Studies have shown that most of the inter-ethnic crises in Nigeria are rooted in the structural partitioning done by the colonial government which was informed by Administrative convenience without taking cognizance of the homogeneity of people and cultures across the divide. This invariably resulted in claims and counter-claims of ownership of the land and also a struggle for political relevance by groups forcefully brought under one administrative structure.

As stated above, Warri was not left out in the partitioning of the colonial government. This generated the question of who owns Warri and disputes by the three ethnic groups even before the Nigerians attainment of independence. One of the core argument presented by these three ethnic groups as the underlying causes of violence is the ownership of Warri. This has been subjected to heated debates in Nigerian Courts and also in the print media
In 2003 with the
The primaries held for Delta South senatorial district by the incumbent party PDP on January 31/February 1, resulted in fighting in Okere district of Warri town between the Itsekiri and Ijaws. The dispute was centered on the number of wards that makes up the district and the ward boundaries. Although this dispute started as a disagreement between the Itsekiris and the Ijaws on purely political issues; involving only the politicians, the whole incidence took another turn when, the Urhobos saw this as an opportunity to express their anger against the seeming political dominance of the Itsekiris. Over the next couple of days, Warri was engulfed with violence between the Urhobos and Itsekiri youths that led to killing and burning of houses. It was reported by the Nigeria Red Cross that more than 6,000 people were displaced.

As the date of the election approached, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) started mobilizing the Warri Ijaws against voters registration exercise, demanding for delineations of wards. On March 3, 2003, FNDIC issued a 7 days Ultimatum to the Nigeria government to meet a series of demands which included; that INEC should disregard the fraudulent voters registration exercise earlier conducted in Warri South West Council until INEC/DSIEC is able to conduct a fair and just delineation of electoral wards in strict compliance with the relevant principle and guidelines in the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) and the operational 1991 Population census as obtainable elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, withdrawal of troops from Ijaw communities, immediate withdrawal of of the onshore/offshore dichotomy bill, implementation of findings of the Justice Alhassan Idoko Commission of inquiry and a call for a Sovereign National Conference.

The March 10 deadline passed without any incident. On March 12, an incident between naval personnel and some of the Ijaw militants sparked the already tensed environment into violence. On March 17, the Itsekiri claimed that an Ijaw militia group attacked some Itsekiri villages near Escravos killing dozens of civilians. Over the weeks that followed, there was full scale war as several Itsekiri villages were sacked in what appeared to have been well-organized raids; communities were razed down, thousands of people where killed and displaced. The oil companies assisted in the evacuation of the affected people, airlifting displaced community members mostly Itsekiri who sought refuge at the Escravos terminal.

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The Conflict Watch Center (CWC) is an intervention of the Community Initiative for Enhanced Peace and Development designed to identify, track and report on conflict early warning signs in the Niger Delta.

Website: www.ciepdcwc.org

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