‘They torched several houses’
THE traditional ruler (Amadiwei) of Odimodi Community in Burutu Local Council of Delta State, His Royal Highness Yangaboy Angalabiri, at the weekend gave details of how his community was invaded and held hostage for over 24 hours by a well-armed militant group, known as Red Beret, until the military authorities sent troops from Warri to flush them out.
The militants torched the houses of several community leaders during the onslaught.
According to the Amadiwei of Odimodi, who led journalists through the deserted destruction in his erstwhile peaceful community yesterday, said the quick intervention of soldiers from Warri saved the town from total destruction by the militants.
The monarch said on August 31, 2015, at about 10:00 pm, his subjects were sleeping in their houses when the militant group, allegedly sponsored by one Presley Iyalagha and led by Ingo Douba, arrived the community and started shooting in all directions. He said the shooting was so heavy that people started running out of their houses to safety.
“The attack was an unbridled act of terrorism, arson and holding our hometown hostage from midnight of August 31, 2015 with explosives, machine guns, AK 47 rifles, pump action, GPMG and other dangerous weapons already recovered by men of the JTF because they have failed to foist on our community a regime of terror and the establishment of illegal oil bunkering/oil theft syndicate and various other acts of criminality,” the monarch said.
He expressed gratitude to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Commander of the JTF for coming to their rescue and agreeing to station soldiers at Odimodi, despite the display of connection in high places exhibited by the sponsors of the militants.
The Amadiwei unequivocally indicted the Nigeria Navy NNS Delta, accusing them of taking sides with the militants. He said despite the NNS Delta stationed at the Forcados Terminal, a stone’s throw away from Odimodi community, “they deliberately refused to respond to save the lives and property of the Odimodi people.”
Following the invasion, the community was deserted but people have started returning after the soldiers stormed the militants den and destroyed it. Unconfirmed reported said four of the militants were killed in the process while several were arrested.
On why the militants invaded Odimodi, the monarch said Presley Iyalagha ordered his Red Beret group to invade the community after the community openly rejected the imposition of his brother, Peter Iyalagha, as the community chairman and protested the establishment of the Red Beret militant camp in the community.
Other reasons, he said, include attempts to cause another fratricidal war with neighbouring Ogulagha community through criminal activities such as rape, robbery etc; attempting to introduce illegal oil bunkering/oil theft through the 48 inches SBM Forcados Export line for which there is a surveillance contract on a section of the pipeline as well as issuing ultimatum to Shell Petroleum Development Company, threatening to shut down the firm’s export terminal at Forcados.
The monarch said the desire by Iyalagha to seize control of the management of the Odimodi community council by imposing and deposing members of the community council to install only his family members was a direct affront to the Constitution of the community established in 1995.
The Amadiwei equally accused the alleged militants’ sponsor of intimidating, harassing, arresting and detaining members of Odimodi community for “spurious, false and malicious allegation through the men of the Louis Edet House, Abuja, the Area Police Commander, Warri and NNS Delta, Warri.”