The Rivers State Government has condemned the killing of some innocent persons in the early hours of last Monday in Mgbuoshimini community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State by gunmen who came through the waterways. The government vowed that it would leave no stone unturned in apprehending and bringing those behind the dastardly act to justice.
The government consequently directed the police and security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime at all cost.
This was contained in a statement issued last Monday in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barrister Emma Okah.
The statement said, “the State Government is ready to spare nothing to support the security agencies get these killers, irrespective of where they are found. Even in their holes, smoke them out from there and you should have no rest until we get to the end of the case, until we see justice”.
Charging the security agencies to redouble their efforts in combating cult-related violence and killings, Okah noted that the Rivers State Government will not give in to criminals and their sponsors.
According to the statement, “The Rivers State Government commiserates with the families of the deceased and promise that this case will not be accepted.
“This sad incident underscores the stand of Rivers State Government that security and crime prevention are the concern of everybody, and should not be politicised so that the state can grow. A moment like this calls for a collective effort on the part of all,” he added.
The statement further added that “this sudden breakdown of security architecture is a fallout of the activities of some politicians in Eleme Local Government Area at the weekend where over 1,000 policemen and other security agents as well as some Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) were redeployed from their duty posts.
“The Rivers State Government calls on the public to stand up and cooperate with the police and other security agencies in their duties.
“Rivers State Government will continue to give the security agencies all the support they require to ensure the security of our state and reduce incidence of crime”, he said, adding that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
The Tide recalls that residents of Mgbuoshimini, near Rumueme were rattled by sporadic gun shots from a suspected cult group in the early hours of last Monday, in what some described as reprisal attack following another killing spree three days earlier, which claimed the lives of two young men in the community.
The gunmen had attacked the community through the nearby waterway, leaving on their trail, about 15 persons dead.
The Tide reporter, who visited the scene in the early hours of Monday, counted 12 corpses on the ground before visiting a nearby Saint Margaret’s Clinic, Mgbuoshimini, where a doctor confirmed another three dead.
The attack also left one in a critical condition at the clinic, while a three-month old baby girl, Precious Maxwell was found in her mother’s pool of blood, amidst smoke and fire.
The Tide reports that the baby was later taken home by her relatives.
The Tide recalls that barely five months ago, Chief Minikwu Chukwu and an Ogoni boy were murdered in cold blood, just as last Thursday, two others were gunned down in the Oro-Akwor axis of the community.
Speaking at the scene of the incident, Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed expressed worry over the spate of violence and killings in the area.
“I am worried over this type of violence, and every well meaningful person should be worried. 12 dead bodies are on ground as gunmen came and started shooting sporadically. Investigations have commenced, as we have interviewed some eyewitnesses. Soonest, the law will catch up on them, and all those perpetrating these evils would be brought to book,” the commissioner promised.
The state commissioner of police also declared eight suspected members of the Icelander cult group wanted in connection with the killings in Mgbuoshimini community.
Ahmed, who did not disclose the names of the suspects, simply said that the detectives have been given marching orders to fish out the suspects wherever they may be, and arraign them before a court of competent jurisdiction, so that justice can take its course.
The Obio/Akpor LGA Caretaker Community Chairman, Hon Goodnews Clinton Amadi expressed sadness at the deterioration of security in the community, and assured that the council would give total support to security agencies to ensure all those responsible for the killings were brought to book.
“As we all can see, this is a security matter, and we, as a council are doing all we can to support the security agencies to ensure the murderers are brought to book,” she added.
Also reacting, member representing Obio/Akpor Constituency II in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Michael Chindah said what happened was unfortunate and unacceptable.
Chindah commiserated with members of the bereaved families, and advised them not to take laws into their hands as security operatives were on top of the situation to unravel the killers and bring them to justice.
The victims include Yeeka Mgbor from Ogoni; Maduka Anaebo from Imo State; Mrs Glory Monday from Cross River and her husband, an Andoni man simply identified as Manlorlor. They were said to have been killed while asleep inside a mosquito net.
Others are Masuru Muhammad and Mammuda Ibrahim both Hausa; Prince Godwin Julius (a.k.a Junior) and his wife, Abigail both from Andoni; Mrs Atisi Maxwell, whose three-month old girl, Precious Maxwell survived the massacre; Emeka James from Etim-Ekpo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. Two other unidentified corpses were also seen at the waterfront.
Blessing Edidiong from Akwa Ibom State was in a critical condition at the clinic as at the time of filing this report, with no relative to care for him.
The brother of one of the deceased, Loveday Anaebo told The Tide that his brother worked with the Nyeche Dredging Company as a welder and had lived in the building where he met his untimely death for over 10 years.
He said his brother’s corpse was not one that should be taken to the mortuary, but would be buried immediately, because the fire had burnt him beyond recognition.
Founder and Medical Director of St Margaret’s Clinic, Dr Funso Agiginni told The Tide that four victims were brought to the clinic, but added that three died while only one, Blessing Edidiong from Akwa Ibom, was still receiving treatment at the clinic.
Agiginni listed the names of those brought to the clinic as Blessing Edidiong, who was still alive; and Emeka, Nneka and Latti whom he confirmed dead, adding that the deceased families had taken their corpses for burial before the arrival of the police.
He appealed the state government to take over the treatment and off-set the cost of medical treatment for the only surviving victim at the clinic.
The Tide investigations revealed that the present violence escalated following disagreements over who should be responsible for the collection of operational permits from ‘Keke’ operators in the area.
It was learnt that those saddled with the responsibility of collecting the ‘Keke’ drivers’ dues had refused to render account of money collected to the Community Development Committee, and instead of showing remorse, went on the offensive, warning the chiefs and elders of the community to steer clear of the crisis in the youth leadership in the community.
The Tide reports that the community had been embroiled in land dispute between two families, which resulted in the murder of the Secretary of the Rumueme Council of Chiefs, Chief Minikwu Chukwu and one Optimist Jaja in May.
In a swift reaction, the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike had ordered the government takeover of the parcel of land at Mgbuoshimini Junction, near Nigerian Agip Oil Company office, and directed the construction of a school and health centre at the site.
Just about four months ago, one Chief Mgbor and an Ogoni boy were killed by suspected cultists in the community.
Also on July 30, Baridule Cletus Dunle was shot dead while Godspower Aligbo and Dickson Gogo-Jaja were killed on October 4, 2017.
The Tide reports that casualties of the last Monday attack included 15 innocent residents, who were petty artisans in the community, and a building which was completely razed.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday declared that the perpetrators of the Mgbuoshimini massacre would be brought to justice.
He made the declaration when he led members of the State Security Council on an on-the-spot assessment of the area.
Wike said: “This is most unfortunate. Those involved in this dastardly act will not go scot-free. The security agencies have been empowered to go after them.
“Everybody should remain calm as we are taking measures to ensure that our people are protected from such ugly attacks”.
He said that initial security report indicated that it was a cult-related violence, and wondered why the perpetrators would unleash mayhem on innocent persons.
He promised that his administration will build a police station and quarters in the area to check the activities of criminals as part of measures to forestall a reoccurrence of the unfortunate attack.
The governor said that government will assist the families of the deceased, and called on members of the public to cooperate with security agencies through the supply of relevant information to check criminal activities.
“We will not leave any stone unturned. We will fight the cultists to the point that they will know that Rivers State is not a safe haven for them.
“But we require the support of the public. The security agencies have given us the assurances that they will do their best. For some time, we have had relative peace before this unfortunate incident”, the governor said.
The Tide reports that the governor had personally led security agencies to demolish homes of cult leaders at Mgbuoshimini.
The governor was accompanied on the visit by Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zaki Ahmed and Commander, Nigerian Army, 6 Division Garrison, Brig-Gen K.N. Garba.
Chris Oluoh, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana & Sylvester Onyeazor