Indigenes of Rumuolumeni Community in Obio/Akpor, Iwofe Local Government Area of Rivers State have protested against a Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder hosted by the same community over the alleged arrest and detainment of their chiefs.
The Navy was said to have invited the Community Development Committee Chairman, Ikechi Williams, Youth President, Chairman of Employment Bureau (REB) Noble Orluegele, and other leaders, for a meeting to resolve issues that had come up within the week but were held back on the navy premises since Monday.
Youths from the community blocked all roads in the area asking the Navy to release their community leaders.
One of the youth leaders, Felix Chinda, said the protest was against the Navy for unlawfully detaining their leaders.
Chinda said the Navy, for over eight years, harboured a marine company within its premises and shielded the community from making contact with the firm.
He said: “The protest is against the inhuman treatment against us by the Navy. Rumuolumeni has been a peaceful community and we host many companies and institutions. Since Navy came, we have never had it easy with them. They never support us during crises.
“They will only come when they want to oppress us. Navy has hosted Ocean Marine Solutions in their premises for over eight years. We have written many letters but they have refused to listen to us.”
Vice-Chairman of REB Emmanuel Ikenga said the Navy had shown disrespect for the host community.
“Our CDC and REB chairmen have been held hostage by the NNS Pathfinder. When the youths heard of it, we came out to block the road. The protest will continue until they release our people. Our demand is that the company should come out clear and employ us”, he said.
The youth have threatened to remain on the road until their leaders are released and the marine company comes to a roundtable with the community.
Meanwhile, the Navy says it is looking into the issues and would soon make its position known in an official statement.