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Army Clarifies Helicopter Fire On Bonny River

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The Nigerian Military has admitted that its combat helicopter shot at a local cargo boat, popularly known as ‘Cotonou Boat’, but clarified that the boat was suspected to be conveying illegally refined petroleum products along the Bonny River.
A statement signed by the Director of Defence Information, Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr disclosed that the Air Component of the Joint Task Force Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) carried out the attack while providing air support to ground troops engaged in clearance operations in the incident area.
“The Air Component of the Joint Task Force Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) received reports from ground troops, who were on clearance operations but encountered resistance at the point of encounter.
“On receiving the report, a combat helicopter was despatched to provide close air support mission along the Cawthorne Channel.”
The statement said the helicopter, upon accosting the ‘Cotonou Boat’ which was being escorted by two speedboats on high speed, fired warning shots to dissuade the crew of the boat from hostile action but was fired at by the crew and had to engage it accordingly.
“The helicopter encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called “Cotonou Boat”. The boat which was being escorted by two speedboats was suspected to be carrying illegally refined oil products in large drums along the Channel in the direction of OPDS patrol boats.
“On sighting the boat, warning shots were fired to dissuade the crew from hostile action. The crew fired back at the helicopter and the boat was engaged accordingly.
“The two speedboats detached from the convoy at high speed, leaving the “Cotonou Boat” which was neutralised. The helicopter later went after the two speedboats but was unable to track it. The suspects are still at large and a manhunt has been sent out to apprehend them.”
The defence headquarters reiterated that the military “remains a professional institution that operates in line with best practices through the application of the rules of engagement and code of conduct”.
It further asserted that, “It is also positioned to protect the populace rather than victimising them,” adding that “efforts by anyone to protect criminality by disparaging the actions of the military in preventing economic sabotage and other sundry crimes need to be condemned by all”.
Recall that the media space was awash with reports of an attack on unarmed civilians travelling in a local cargo boat on Thursday, August 26, 2021 from Port Harcourt to Bonny Island, with two of the victims telling journalists that their boat was attacked along the Bonny River near the Dawes Island (Dutch Island) fishing settlement in Okrika Local Government Area of the State.
According to one of the victims, Awwal Rufai, the military helicopter dropped one of its occupants via a rope, who checked the boat and was later pulled back up into the aircraft, which flew off and later resurfaced and dropped to about 500 meters above sea level and opened fire on them but flew off again when they cried out for help.
“Between 1:30 and 2pm a chopper was seen around that area, it came around the first time, went back, came back again the second time and left. The third time it came around, it dropped a rope from the chopper and a personnel was seen coming down from the chopper into the boat and later went back up, next thing they opened fire and started shooting at us.”

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Rivers

Okrika CTC Flags Off Business Support Scheme For Women, Others

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The Chairman of Caretaker Committee of Okrika Local Government Council, Hon Princess Ibiene Ogan, has rolled out a business support scheme to empower the women and other vulnerable persons in the LGA.
The scheme, which is under the Concerned About Prosperity (CAP) initiative of the administration, will benefit over 1,000 indigenes of Okrika and strangers living in the area.
Flagging off the scheme at Okrika, Hon Ogan said the programme was in fulfilment of her promise to roll back poverty in the area.
She explained that the CAP was unveiled to give Okrika a facelift, especially in the areas of poverty alleviation, security and the provision of educational support to indigent students of the area.
According to her, the committee had before now embarked on free medical outreaches to communities in the LGA.
Ogan also said the programme was inline with Governor Fubara’s programme of putting Rivers people first in the scheme of things.
She urged the people to give their massive support to the Governor, stressing that the administration of Governor Fubara needs the support of the people to succeed.
In his exhortation, the Bishop, Diocese of Okrika Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Enoch Atuboyedia, urged the people to remember the Biblical counsel of never neglecting the days of little beginning.
He said the amount involved in the scheme might not be so much, but it beholves on them to invest and improve themselves.
The cleric also commended the CTC chairperson for her passion towards uplifting the conditions of the poor and down trodden in the area.
Also speaking, the leader of the Simplified Movement in Okrika LGA, Madam Better Dede, said the caretaker committee chairperson has broken the jinx as far as women’s political emancipation is concerned in Okrika.
She also commended Hon Princess Ogan for the empowerment programme which covers over 1,000 people from the different wards in the area.
On his part, Elder George Ottah thanked the chairperson for coming to the rescue of the poor in the area.
Ottah, who decried the high rate of poverty in the area, said the scheme will go a long way to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
Also speaking, a physically challenged beneficiary of the scheme, Tamuno Iyowuna Oba, thanked the council for the opportunity given to physically challenged persons to benefit.
Other beneficiaries also thanked the council for including them .

John Bibor

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Peace Advocates Seek End To Political Crisis In Rivers

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The International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA), Rivers State, has called on various political actors in the ongoing crisis in Rivers State to sheathe their swords in the interest of peace and development of the State.
The Rivers State Director of the association, Ambassador Juliet Nwokocha, who said this in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, also commended the State Governor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara for toeing the path of peace despite several provocations.
Nwokocha noted that the ongoing political crisis is not in the interest of the development of the state.
The peace Ambassador, who linked the crisis to varied interests, said the only way out is for the parties to sheathe their swords and come for round table discussions with the view to resolving the problem once and for all.
“We have noticed that for some time now there is a kind of unrest, agitations of different interest and we do not find that it is working because peace that is supposed to be the primary goal of every body is no longer in place.
“So, we want to make a bold statement that our association respect all constituted authorities.
“We are requesting that people should respect constituted authorities whether the police, whether the Governor”, she said.
Nwokocha said peace should be the primary goal of anyone agitating for one thing or the other, adding that the interest of the state and its people should be given consideration by all the political actors in the state.
She also traced the problem to interest, saying, “What I think is just varied interests. That is what we have seen. Different interests and different aspirations. If the interest is a common one, we will not have agitations we are having right now.
“We are requesting that they sheathe their sword and go into dialogue, from dialogue a resolution can be reached midway to ensure that it is fair to all the parties”, she said.
Also speaking, Ambassador Ufoma N’light, Deputy Director, International Association of World Peace Advocate, Rivers State, said the crisis has portrayed Rivers State in bad light before the international community.
He said the sooner the key actors in the crisis sheathe their sword, the better for the State.

John Bibor

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Rivers

Council Boss Hails Fubara Over Zonal Hospital Inspection

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The Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Khana Local Government Council, Rivers State, Amb Marvin Yobana, has commended the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara for embarking on Bori zonal hospital inspection, saying he is a man of his words.
He commended Governor Fubara for keeping to his promise of completing the construction of the Bori Zonal Hospital. He said the visit of the Governor has given hope to the people of Khana Local Government for a speedy completion of the project, adding that when completed, the people of South East Senatorial District which includes Khana, Gokana, Tai, Eleme, Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro and Oyigbo will no longer go to Port Harcourt for medical treatment.
The Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Khana, Amb. Marvin Yobana stated this during the inauguration of political appointees for various positions in the LGA.
Yobana charged the appointees to be good ambassadors of the LGA, government of Rivers State and the state at large.
The ceremony which took place at Bori, headquarters of the LGA was well attended by members of Simplified Movement and also sons and daughters of the area.
During the inauguration, the council boss promised to meet with Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution company, PHED to provide electricity supply for people of the area to boost businesses and expand revenue generation.
Yobana, who reiterated his decision on dissolution of all revenue collection committees in the LGA appointed by the previous administration, and warned them against parading themselves as council revenue collectors.
He used the opportunity to announce the cancellation of revenue collection in all markets in Khana Local Government Area due to the council for the period of three months.
The council chairman revealed that in the coming days, he will set up neighbours watch security outfit to support the security architect in the area.
He promised to increase the stipend of security agencies, to boost their morale in providing adequate security for people of the area and also provide security vehicles to aid their operations.
He also extended an olive branch to hoodlums operating on the Ogoni axis of the East West road and other parts of Khana Local Government Area to turn over a new leaf, adding that his administration will not hesitate to declare them personal non-grata if they fail to change.
Yobana noted that in the coming days, he will be having meeting with Road Transport Union of Nigeria including Okada Riders Association to discuss modalities on reducing revenue due to the council.
Some of those inaugurated include, Secretary of Council, Grace Inayor, Nwineemanah Kinakah, Assistant Secretary to the Chairman and Alfred Letam as Chief of Staff.

Kiadum Edookor

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