Youths protest arrest of their leaders by naval officers in Rivers


Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Business and social activities were disrupted by protesters in Rumuolumeni and Iwofe axis of Obio-Akpor area, a busy suburb Port Harcourt, in the early hours of Tuesday.

The protesters who were mostly youths, claim that some naval officers stormed their community yesterday and arrested some of their leaders.

According to them, those arrested include the Chairman Community Development and the Vice Chairmans.

The arrests followed protests by youths and residents of Rumuolumeni at NNS Pathfinder which is host to Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, an oil servicing firm over alleged refusal of the company to employ people from the area by the company.

The CTC Secretary of the Community who spoke to journalists, Henry Amaehule, wants the State Government to intervene.

He called for the immediate release of the youths, saying they did not breach any law by wanting to be employed by a company operating in their community.

“We demand for the immediate release of the CTC Chairman, the Employment Bureau Chairman, Vice-chairman of CTC in Rumuolumeni and other members of the Executives. We call on the Governor of Rivers State to intervene because we have really suffered in hands of the Navy.

“They came down to Rumuolumeni yesterday and whisked away our Chairman. What led to their arrest is as result of a simple peaceful protest. The Chairman of the Community Employment Bureau went to the naval yard to meet the management of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited seek employment for the youths of the community.”

The protesters carried placards with the inscriptions such as: “NNS Pathfinder stop intimidating us”, “Wwe are peace-loving Community”, “Ocean Marine Solutions pls employ our youths” and others blocked parts of Rumuolumeni-Iwofe road with Petroleum tankers causing gridlocks.

The protests resulted in traffic gridlock in the area as a result of blockage roads at St. Johns junction and Aker junction of Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt.

At time of this report, a joint task force made up of the Nigerian Army, Police and the Nigeria Navy have been deployed to the area to ensure that there is no security breach.

Meanwhile, negotiations to end the protest has started with representatives of the Rumuolumeni Chiefs, Elders, Navy and other stakeholders at the Palace of Paramount ruler, Eze Ndubueze Wobo, to have to resolve the issue.

Our correspondent gathered that a representative of the community, Collins Wagbara, called for the release of the five members of the community detained by officers of NNS Pathfinder.