Monday, March 4, 2019 12:21 pm
Chiefs, elders vow to help fish out the fleeing gunmen
…Absorb Abonnema youths from the killing of soldiers
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The Council of Chiefs and other stakeholders in Abonema, Rivers State, have vowed to assist the Army to fish out the yet to be identified gunmen who killed two soldiers in the community.
They made the promise as indigenes continue to move out of the community in droves following the killing of two soldiers in the night of Saturday, February 2, by two gunmen in Army uniform ,
The killing of the military officers which took place on Obonoma-Abonnema was carried out by the gunmen ridding on motorbikes who also made away with the rifles belonging to the soldiers before fleeing the scene.
The fresh killing of the military men compounded the security problems in Abonnema which has not known peace since Saturday February 23 when gunmen laid an ambush on unsuspecting soldiers killing a Lieutenant and injuring others.
The security breach disrupted the Presidential election. The aftermath of which led to protest by some people who alleged that the soldiers were engaged in indiscriminating killing of their people.
However, in a sharp contrast, another group of women condemned the bloodletting in Abonnema and the attack on soldiers, which they described as unprovoked.
They commiserated with the Nigerian Army for the loss of the officer while also appealing to General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarham, not to withdraw the soldiers from the community because their presence inspires confidence on the people that they are safe.
The Amanyanabo of Abonnema Kingdom, His Majesty, King (Barr.) Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel (ii), Owukori (ix), who expressed deep sorrow over the widespread violence and killings that greeted last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Abonnema, which left scores of people dead and disruption of the polls also condemned the killing of the two soldiers.
He said as far as he was aware,” Soldiers have no attacked our people. Since the soldiers arrived Abonnema they have been very professional and civil to our people.”
Chairman of Ijaw Youths Council, Kalabari clan, Ibinabo Omoni Jack, has also condemned the unprovoked attack on soldiers by gunmen who he claimed were not Abonnema indigenes.
He therefore vowed that no non-Abonnema people will be allowed into the community during the next Saturday March 9 Governorship election.
“It will be no PVC, no entry into Abonnema. Hired political thugs cannot be allowed to commit crime and disappear.”
The Amanyanabo of Abonnema while calling for calm also commiserated with the families of all the victims that lost their lives, and prayed for the repose of the souls of the departed.
He expressed shock and sadness of the number of his people that were killed.
The Amanyanabo condemned the killing of an Army officer by armed thugs and send his deep condolence to the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division in Port Harcourt.
The Monarch expressed anger that despite several appeals by him and the Abonnema Council of Chiefs to all persons to desist from importing thugs into Abonnema, they refused to heed to these instructions.
In the same vein, the Abonnema Council of Chiefs has appealed to the youths and politicians to shun all acts that would stall the conduct of a peaceful election, while equally appealing to the security agencies to be professional and apolitical during the polls.
The apex traditional authority in the kingdom had ordered that only eligible voters who were registered in Abonnema and had their Permanent Voters’ Cards be allowed entry into Abonnema during the elections to check the influx of political thugs and other undesirable troublemakers.
He charged the security agencies to ensure enforcement at all entry points into Abonnema.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Nzota, who responded on behalf of the security agencies, promise that the elections would be peaceful.
While pleading with the government to urgently restore peace in the area, the Amanyanabo urged feuding politicians to sheath their swords, reminding them that they were first indigenes of Abonnema before their membership of any political party.
The Amanyanabo pledged that all those involved in sponsoring thugs to unleash mayhem at innocent residents, including those provided cover for them, will be rejected by Nyemoni (Abonnema) people.
His Majesty called on the Rivers State Government, including independent civil society organizations to quickly launch a thorough inclusive investigation with a view to unraveling and bringing to justice, the perpetrators of the heinous crime, where over 25 persons died.
It is worthy of note that Abonnema community is where the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, embattled Accord Party, Dumo Lulu-Briggs and Professor Charles Dokubo, Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Programme hail from.
The Army is yet to make official statement on the unprovoked attack on his personnel by unknown gunmen in Army uniform on Saturday, March 2.
However, before the Presidential Election, the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army issued a statement signed by Colonel Ilyasu Aminu alerting the public that credible intelligence had revealed that some unscrupulous politicians had armed hoodlums with weapons and army uniforms to carry out all forms of violence during the elections.