By Charles Nwoke, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
October 25, 2020
Update created 23/10/2020
Above image provided by local correspondent, courtesy of local news services.
About five soldiers were among security operatives killed in the orgy of violence reportedly perpetrated by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra in Rivers State, it was gathered at the weekend.
The police earlier linked IPOB members hiding under the #EndSARS protest, to the attacks and destruction of the Police Area Command and police stations at Oyingbo Local Government Area.
The attackers reportedly bizarrely killed three policemen, cutting off the hand of one of the police operatives that attempted to shoot at them.
Sources said they hacked the police Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) driver to death, burnt the second victim alive, and stoned to death the third policeman.
They were said to have burnt over 15 police vehicles, a hospital, and an Appeal Court complex located in Oyigbo
The circumstances surrounding the killings of the soldiers were unknown, a source wrote on his Facebook wall on Thursday said that he was at the Military Hospital in Port Harcourt when the corpses of the soldiers were brought into the facility.
The source, who spoke in confidence said: “I am at the military hospital in Port Harcourt and I can confirm that five soldiers were brought in dead two days ago (Wednesday).
” I witnessed a very short session when one of the captains instructed the soldiers on mannerism and how to talk to the people. However, people should not take their humanity for granted.
“They are hurting. They already have an instruction not to shoot and that instruction though fair can also hurt seeing that their brothers are being killed”.
The Spokesperson for 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj. Charles Ekeocha, however, said the matter had not been reported to his office.
But the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in a statewide broadcast listed the killing of soldiers, policemen, and wanton destruction of properties as part of the reasons why he reinforced the ban on the activities of IPOB in the state.
Wike in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, also placed an N50million bounty on one Stanley Mgbere said to be the leader of IPOB in the state.
Wike said no form of procession or agitation by the group or any of its affiliates would be allowed to take place in the State henceforth.
He said that the activities of the banned IPOB were not just dangerous to lives and property, but were also threats to the existential interest and aspirations of Rivers State and all her people.
He said: “Security agencies are hereby directed to stop any form of procession or agitation by IPOB in Rivers State or any part thereof and arrest and prosecute any person or group that identifies with the membership or activities of IPOB in the State.
“Government will issue an executive order to strengthen and ensure the effective enforcement of these measures.”
The governor promised to hold meetings with all leaders of youth groups and community development committees in the State on 26th October to take holistic measures to counter and stop all IPOB activities in the state;
“One Mr. Stanley Mgbere is hereby declared wanted for leading members of the banned IPOB to cause the recent violence and destruction of lives and property in Oyigbo Local Government Area, and a ransom of N50,000,000.00 will be given to any person with useful information that would lead to his arrest and prosecution,” he said.
He recalls that since IPOB was classified as a terrorist organization by the Federal High Court and subsequently proscribed in September 2017 by the Federal Government, the group had carried out intermittent processions in parts of Rivers State, especially in Oyigbo and some notorious suburbs in Port Harcourt Local Government Areas.
He said IPOB aimed to disturb the peace of the State by unleashing violence and destruction on lives and property at will.
He said the government severely pleaded, warned, and even advised IPOB and its members to discontinue its insurrectional actions in Rivers to no avail.
“Instead, IPOB unleashed another orgy of violence and destruction inflicted at Oyigbo Local Government Area and some parts of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area on Tuesday 21st October 2020.
” This evil, wicked and audacious action resulted in the unnecessary loss of scores of lives, including soldiers and police officers, and the destruction of both public and private properties, including police stations, court buildings, and business premises.
“Not done, members of the outlawed group also visited physical violence on members of some targeted community which, but, for the quick intervention of the State Government and the security agencies, would have resulted in some form of an internecine bloodbath in the state.
“ IPOB continued with its devilish and destructive activities at Rumukwurushi, Iriebe, and Oyigbo in open defiance of the State Government’s curfew on human movements.
“Security intelligence and surveillance have revealed that IPOB has continued to expand its membership drive, holding meetings regularly, and expanding its logistical base, including the maintenance of illegal detention cells in Emenike and other parts of Diobu, Port Harcourt.
“As a matter of fact, Oyigbo town has practically become the group’s main operational base in Rivers State, from which they’ve become notorious for launching premeditated violence and terror on the State, businesses and innocent citizens.
“As a people, we have become very much unsettled by the terrorist acts and endured the continuing irritations, violence, destruction, and provocations of IPOB in and against the people of Rivers State.”
Wike said IPOB had no legal or moral right to invade Rivers State or any part at its behest to disturb public peace and subject lives and property to violence or threat of destruction under any guise.
He said: “Rivers State’s love, accommodation, and hospitality towards all who reside in and do business in the state are being mistaken for weakness by the banned IPOB. To this end, he warned that enough is enough as the government can no longer tolerate the menace of IPOB.
“I wish to appeal to the people of Oyigbo Local Government Area to remain calm and not to take the laws into their hands despite the intense provocation as the government can deal with the challenge and ensure the safety of lives and property in the Local Government Area.
“We will soon carry out on the spot inspection and assessment of the destruction they have suffered and taken appropriate measures to mitigate the loss and damage caused to lives and property.”
Wike expressed his heartfelt sympathies to the families of all those that either lost their loved ones or suffered damage to their properties from the destructive acts of IPOB in our state.