Reps probe alleged military offensive in Ogoni communities
The House of Representatives has commenced investigation into the military offensive against purported criminals in some Ogoni communities of Rivers State.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has said alleged report of insecurity and political killings in the state before the re-run elections were concocted by some politicians to mislead Nigerians.
It would be recalled that the military in February invaded Yeghe, Zaakpo, Bori and Babbe following a bomb attack on the campaign office of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers South-East Senatorial District candidate, Magnus Abe. Security agents had blamed the attack on one Solomon Ndigbara who was said to have been on the run.
More than 13 families who were victims of the military operation in Ogoniland yesterday testified and gave evidence before the House of Representatives Committee on Army on how their relations were allegedly killed by soldiers.
The committee members were in Port Harcourt for a fact-finding mission. Chairman of the panel, Rima Shawuou Kwewum, urged the victims and civil liberty organisations present at the meeting to feel free to state the fact, assuring that their testimonies would be used to bring justice to them.
Husband to an eight-month pregnant woman, Mr. Ledee Meyakau, told the committee that his wife, Lesi, was killed along Solomon Ndigbara Street by a stray bullet from the army on February 22. He called for justice, stating that the only thing that could console him was to ensure that the killers of his wife were brought to book.
Also, one Thomas Nwafor narrated how his two brothers, Godspower and Kelechi Nwafor, were killed while carrying out their food vendor business at Bori.
Eleven other victims, including Mrs. Sonbari Dormubaru, whose husband is the only son of his parents, disclosed how and where their relations were killed during the raid.
Lawyer to Solomon Ndigbara, an ex-militant leader, popularly known as Osama Bin Ladin, who was said to have spurred the army invasion, Eugene Odeh, told the committee that his client (Ndigbara) was alive and willing to come out and testify before them only if his safety would be guaranteed by the Federal Government, the army and other relevant security agencies.Odeh pointed out that his client was afraid of his life, hence his choice to go into hiding.
The lawyer described the invasion of the army as reckless and senseless. He noted that the matter is currently before Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
The paramount ruler of Bua Yeghe Community, Chief Barinada Gbaranee, told the committee that people in the area “now live inside bushes due to fear of continued stay of army in the area.” He appealed for an immediate redeployment of the military from Yeghe to enable the people live normal life.
Governor Wike, during the committee’s visit to him at the Government House, Port Harcourt, explained that after the re-run elections, the sponsored propaganda reports no longer dominate the media because there were no political killings.
“Before the re-run elections, you heard of repeated reports of alleged political killings sponsored by misguided politicians. Now that the elections are over, you no longer see such reports. Like every other state, we have our security challenges, but we don’t have political killings. We have cases of cult-related violence, but the security agencies are tackling the issue frontally with the support of the state government,” he said.
Kwewum said the committee was in the state on a fact-finding mission following a petition against the army by the Civil Liberties Organisation on the killings of Ogoni people in their communities.
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