The Presiding Bishop of God’s Victorious Church, Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, Bishop Eleanya Ugorgi, has narrated how over 25 people were killed, including his younger brother, with 10 others having their heads chopped off by unidentified gunmen who invaded Omoku community last Friday.
The bishop told journalists, who were on a guided tour of the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area headquarters, said his younger brother, Ekwela, was killed along with his wife, Victoria, on that fateful night.
The cleric disagreed with the blanket insinuation that the death of his brother and others was caused by rival cult clash.
Ugorgi said his late brother was a staunch member of one of the two major political parties in the state.
He pointed out that before his brother’s death, Ekwela, who is in his mid-40s, was a member of one of the major political parties in the state.
He said, “It was on Friday, and we started hearing gunshots between 9:00pm and 10:00pm or thereabouts. After a while, it ceased and shortly after, I heard a smash on my window, and if you go round, you will see that all the windows were smashed.
“By the time the day broke, we saw my younger brother, Ekwela Ugorji, and the wife, Victoria, lying dead outside. My younger brother was beheaded. My younger brother was a politician and that is all that I know about him. My younger brother’s wife was a trader. He is in his mid-40s.
“I don’t think the killers are armed robbers. In Rivers State, actually you know this politics of a thing is what has been on the ground, and you talk of cultists. Cultism has been there, but it has been lying low. When you come to ONELGA, these two parties are really struggling to see who takes over.
“But, things were also moving on well until after the announcement of the Supreme Court. We felt that everything had ended but before we knew it, things started coming up again. Gunshots of that day were something else; everywhere. I think, at least, 25 people were killed that night, and 10 were beheaded in Omoku here.”
Also speaking to journalists who were on a guided tour of the deserted Omoku town amidst very tight security, the father of another victim, Mr Martin Ugo, said his 31-year old son, Elemchukwu, and two others, were killed when the gunmen invaded his house that night.
Ugu said, “Unfortunately, they killed three people, including my son, Elemchukwu, aged 31. He was a butcher. They killed him in his room, and marched the other two people outside, and killed them. They were all shot. Then, my daughter in-law received gunshots too, but she did not die.
“If it is possible, government should step in, and I know if government really means it, they can stop this kind of things.”
Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA and host to TotalENP, Agip and other oil companies, has been in the news for more than a year for the wrong reasons.
Meanwhile, one person was shot dead and unconfirmed number of bank customers injured as gunmen, suspected to be armed robbers, stormed an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), along Ada George Road in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, at the close of work on Monday.
Eyewitnesses told newsmen that the gunmen, who might have carried out adequate surveillance on the bank staff and timed the loading of the ATMs struck at the nick of time.
According to the sketchy account, the gunmen arrived at the ATM in an SUV, and opened fire sporadically killing one person at point blank range while other bank customers and the bank staff sustained bullet wounds.
“As soon as we saw them park their jeep, we thought that they had come to make some withdrawals. Immediately they emerged from the jeep clutching AK47, they started shooting at anything in sight but targeting the bank staff loading the ATMs.
“Customers scampered for safety. Some people may have been injured by stray bullets,” an eyewitness narrated.
As at press time, it was not clear if the robbers succeeded in carting away cash in the ensuing melee.
The Rivers State Police Command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Ahmad Muhammad, confirmed the incident but could not give any casualty figures.
Dislodge Illegal Oil Refinery Operators, Wike Tasks Monarchs
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has urged traditional rulers in the state not to allow illegal crude oil refining (Kpo-fire) activities to take place in their domains anymore.
Wike gave the charge at a meeting he held with traditional rulers in the state at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
The meeting was also attended by heads of security agencies and chairmen of the 23local government areas of the state.
Wike told the traditional rulers that those involved in illegal oil refining activities were sabotaging the economy.
He regretted that the Federal Government, which controls the oil industry and the security agencies, has been indifferent to the soot pandemic and the damage it was inflicting on the health of the residents of Rivers State.
“I should think that the way Federal Government intends to fight insurgency is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage! It affects our own revenue.
“If we are supposed to produce two million barrels, for example, we are now producing 1.2million. And that 1.2million barrels, it affects Rivers State because we are not producing up to the volume we are supposed to produce, and then, we cannot get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”
The governor also said that illegal oil refining activities constitute environmental hazard capable of causing cancer-related illnesses in the state.
According to him, his primary concern was to ensure that the health of residents of the state was not jeopardised.
“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to see how this thing can be stopped. As I speak to you, nobody has called me from the Federal Government to say how they can support us. But that is not my business. My business is the health of my people. I will not because the Federal Government is not interested to stop it, therefore, my people should die. If everybody dies, who are you going to govern?”
The governor, therefore, urged the traditional rulers not to be less concerned about the activities of illegal oil refinery operators, but to frantically mobilise members of their Community Development Committees (CDCs) and the leadership of their youth groups to work in synergy to dislodge them from their domains.
Wike berated the Nigerian Police for being complicit in the criminal act of illegal oil bunkering, which is why they were not committed to the fight to stop the illicit business.
He also described as embarrassing how officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have continued to be complicit in the act and shamelessly involved in sabotaging the national economy.
“I don’t know how I can be a security officer sent to a place to protect people, to protect whatsoever belongs to the Federal Government, at the same time, I’m involved in sabotaging the national economy. I don’t understand how I can wear uniform and be involved in that. If they do not want to support us, we have no choice but to expose all the atrocities that are going on in this state.”
Wike said he recently received intelligence that an Army Major was providing exit services to illegally refined petroleum products, and had to send security personnel to thwart it.
“In fact, I had to send my special security to go and intercept a major who was trying to escort some of these illegal products.”
The governor declared that his administration would not hesitate to expose any security personnel involved in such illegal oil refining activities.
Wike frowned at the inability of the Nigeria Police to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha; Fubara Ohaka; and other members of the illegal bunkering cartel operating at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
He said the names of all indicted persons would be published soon and they would be declared wanted.
Rivers Rating In Ease Of Doing Business Rises -Banigo
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo has said that the sub-National Ease of Doing Business Baseline Survey indicates that Rivers State was doing great in the Ease of Doing Business Index in the country.
Banigo stated this at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, last Thursday, shortly after her arrival from Abuja, where she represented the State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the National Economic Council meeting.
Banigo disclosed that the factors, which determine this survey, include infrastructure, security and healthcare.
“With the 10 flyovers the governor was constructing in Rivers State, and of course, with all the other infrastructure in health, education; and the monumental improvement in security as well as the clearing of the hideouts of criminals, obviously gave us a head way in doing very well in this baseline survey”, the deputy governor further stressed.
According to the public health physician, the response of the state to the COVID-19 pandemic, under the watch of the governor as the incident manager, has been tremendous in terms of healthcare delivery.
“I want to encourage the citizens of the state to maintain the non-pharmaceutical measures like the correct wearing of face masks, regular washing of hands with soap and running water for, at least, 20 seconds, social distancing, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow as well as the improvement of personal and environmental hygiene. I also want to encourage Rivers people that vaccination actually reduces the mortality and morbidity that arises from COVID-19″, Banigo said.
Ex-Agitators Beg Firms To Return To N’Delta
Ex-agitators have pleaded with companies especially oil companies that relocated from the Niger Delta region following spate of insecurity triggered by militancy to return to the region promising uninterrupted peace.
The former warlords also called on interventionist agencies to work together to sustain the peace and ensure development of the region.
They spoke in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a regional peace summit to sensitize people on the need to advance the peace currently enjoyed in the region.
The ex-agitators also condemned proliferation of illegal refineries and lamented its adverse effects on development.
One of the participants at the summit and ex-freedom fighter, Pastor Nature Dumale Kieghe said as ex-agitators, who keyed into the vision of the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), they have resolved to work for a new and better Niger Delta.
“It is important to sensitize our people towards a peaceful Niger Delta and create a friendly environment that will attract development, Multinational companies and other foreign investors to the region.
“We, who once carried guns, are now here to preach the message of peace to our people in the region. Peace is the only way we can have the developed environment that we dream of. Peace is the only way to attract the multinationals, investors and also be gainfully employed,” he said.
According to Nature, peace remained a vital tool to attract investors to the region which would in turn create business and job opportunities for the people.
“Companies that have left the Niger Delta because of insecurity need to return, this is the purpose for sensitization. We are blessed with an environment that is supposed to prosper us, we can only enjoy our natural resources if there is a peaceful environment, “ he added.
Nature pointed out that a major setback to the development of the Niger Delta was the absence of proper coordination among key stakeholders.
He said with the right synergy, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Presidential Amnesty office, could hasten the needed development of the region.
On illegal oil refinery, Nature explained that beyond hampering the development of the region, illegal refining of petroleum products was life threatening and dangerous to the ecosystem.
The sensitization programme commenced in Bayelsa state with 150 Niger Delta youths in attendance and would be held across the nine states of the region to create adequate awareness.
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