Human and vehicular movements along Sani Abacha Road and Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, were on Thursday disrupted as hundreds of members of the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide staged a peaceful protest.
The aggrieved Ijaw youths, who began the peaceful protest about 8am, complained about the alleged persecution of former President Goodluck Jonathan and members of his family.
The protesters, who carried out their agitation under heavy security presence, also alleged that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had not been funding the interventionist agencies and projects in the Niger Delta.
As a result of the protest, business and commercial activities were disrupted for some hours in the metropolis.
Also, an unprecedented congestion was noticed in some parts of the metropolis as motorists and commercial drivers had to make a detour to escape the heavy traffic jam.
Passengers and commuters were stranded, as many were seen trekking long distances to get to their workplaces and business centres.
The security personnel, mainly riot policemen, blocked some parts of the roads, apparently to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
Most members of the group chanted protest songs with placards bearing inscriptions such as, ‘Stop harassing Jonathan’s family’, ‘Leave Patience Jonathan alone’, ‘If you must probe Dame Patience Jonathan, all the former first ladies must be probed’, and ‘We need projects in Niger Delta, not soldiers.’
Other inscriptions were, ‘LNG must be bought by Bonny people,’ ‘We are Ijaw youths, not criminals’, ‘EFCC, return Alamco’s property, don’t be biased,’ ‘Unfreeze Jonathan’s accounts’, among others.
Addressing co-protesters in front of Ijaw House, the headquarters of IYC, the President, IYC, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said the protest was to send a message to the Federal Government about the attitude of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission towards the former first family.
He said the country had produced many first ladies, but the only one from the Niger Delta is being “constantly harassed by the EFCC.”
Eradiri called on Buhari to accord some respect to Jonathan, whom he said handed over to him peacefully.
He said, “We want to ask Buhari to please focus on governance and stop vilifying the former first family. The economy has gone so bad because of the attitude of the EFCC when it concerns the Niger Delta people.
“Our appeal is that Buhari should please respect Jonathan, just as he respects the other former presidents.
“They have frozen his accounts, they are not paying his allowances, even the security agents around him do not get what is due them. We have yet to know why Buhari is victimising Jonathan and his family members.
“When you talk about the aggression towards Dame Patience Jonathan, she is not the first First Lady. She is wife to former deputy governor, governor, vice-president and President. Are you expecting her to be a poor woman?
“There are other former first ladies in this country. Recently, a former First Lady was awarded a university licence. Please and please, people can see that we are peaceful.
“We are using this medium to send a message: leave our former first family alone. Some people are not happy with Jonathan’s rising profile and they want to destroy it.”
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