The President of the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Peter Igbifa, said he was blindfolded by his abductors, who wanted him to call off the ongoing protest by Ijaw youths.
Members of the IYC have been staging protests in the Niger Delta after the 30-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission expired on Tuesday.
Igbifa, in a telephone chat with our correspondent, said the gunmen, who abducted him on Tuesday, released him at Opokuma in Bayelsa State, adding that he was blindfolded and driven to many places.
He stated, “I didn’t know the places they took me to because I was blindfolded. All they wanted me to do was to call off the protest. They wanted me to do a video asking the youth to back down.
“But I told them that I already did a video in the morning asking them to go ahead with the protest even if I was kidnapped, arrested or killed. They became frustrated when they saw the protest going on in many places in the region. I also told them that I won’t betray the principles of our struggle.”
Igbifa said his abductors released him on Wednesday night, adding that with the help of persons, who recognised him, he was able to get to the Bayelsa State Police Command headquarters in Yenagoa, where he was debriefed by the Commissioner of Police.
The IYC boss said after a brief meeting with the CP, he met with the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, who expressed dismay over his ordeal.
Igbifa added that he would neither be deterred nor intimidated by his ordeal into calling off the protest, insisting that it must continue with the aim of shutting down the region until the Federal Government inaugurates the NDDC board.
“I am more than ever determined to continue with the protest. My experience has not intimidated me and the protest will be more intense,” Igbifa declared.
He disowned some of his executive committee members, led by the spokesman for the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, who held a meeting with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
He said Ekerefe and his co-travellers were on their own as he never authorised the meeting and that whatever agreement they reached with Akpabio was not binding on the IYC and the Ijaw nation.
“What are they even doing in Abuja? I know the kind of pressure I faced and the bogus offers I got to frustrate this protest, but I turned down all of them because I can’t betray my people and the Niger Delta must move forward. Therefore, they are on their own,” he stated
Igbifa called on Ijaw youths to troop out en masse for the continuation of the demonstration.