By Davies Iheamnachor – Port Harcourt
The People of Rumuolumeni Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State have explained that they pulled force against the Nigeria Navy Ship, NNS, Pathfinder, in their area, because the command arrested and detained some of their leaders unlawfully.
Youths of Rumuolumeni, had on the earlier hours of Tuesday blocked all roads into their community in protest against operatives of Nigeria Navy operating in the area over a misunderstanding that ensued between the military and the community.
It was gathered that Navy had invited the Community Development Committee Chairman of the Community, Ikechi Williams, the Youth President, the Chairman Employment Bureau, REB, Comrade Noble Nnamdi Orluegele, and other leaders of the area for a meeting and detained them.
Following the detention of the said persons, the aggrieved People of Rumuolumeni, blocked all routes into their community in protest, demanding the immediate release of their leader.
Speaking, One of the Youth Leaders, Felix Chinda, disclosed that the protest was against Nigerian Navy over the unlawful detention of their leaders who were invited for a meeting.
Chinda alleged that the Navy has for over eight years harboured a Marine Company within its premises and shielded the community from contact with the alleged firm.
He claimed that the community had on several occasions written the Naval Pathfinder Bases on the issue, regretting that Navy has not allowed the company interface with the community.
Chinda said: “The protest is against the inhuman treatment against us by the Navy. Rumuolumeni has been a peaceful community and we host a lot of companies and institutions.
“Since Navy came, we have never had it easy with them. They never support us during a crisis.
“They will only come when they want to oppress us. Navy has hosted Ocean Marine Solutions in our premises for over eight years. We have written several letters to come in terms with the community they have refused. They have ignored us no one person has been employed.”
Also, Emmanuel Ikenga, Vice Chairman of REB, the community Employment Bureau, said the development was a show of disrespect for the host community.
Ikenga said: “Our CDC and REB Chairmen have been held hostage by the NNS Pathfinder. When the youths heard of it we came out this morning to block the road until they release our people.
“The protest will continue until they release our people. Our demand is that the company should come out clear and give us employment.”
Henry Amaewhule, Secretary of CDC Rumuolumeni, threatened that the youths would remain on the road until their leaders were released and the marine company come to a roundtable with the community.
He said: “The reason for the protest is that we are demanding the unconditional release of our CDC and others.
“We are demanding employment in Ocean Marine Solutions, they have been there for over 20years now and being harboured by Navy in collaboration with the Commanding Officer.”
“Why will they arrest our representatives as if we do not have youths. Why will they come to our community to oppress us?
“We have been in good terms with the Nigeria Navy, we are peaceful community hosting a lot of multinational companies and they have not complained before. We have never been in this mood before and we want the release of the arrested persons.”
However, when contacted a Senior Naval Officer, who said he has not been authorised to comment on the development revealed that Navy commenced moves to resolve the difference.
The source added an official statement would be released to the press in due time.