At least seventeen (17) youths from the Kalabari extraction have been killed by the men and officers of Nigerian Army. Information had it that the soldiers were patrolling in the creek when they sighted an illegal bunkering site, and on arrival the army had an open confrontation with the bunkerers. Sources informed this weekly that, during the confrontation the military opened fire on the suspected illegal oil dealers. According to what we gathered, no fewer than seventeen (17) persons were sent into their early graves, and scores sustained life threatening injuries.
The sources further revealed that shortly after the shoot-out and killing the soldiers destroyed some illegal refineries in the creeks.
The bloody incident occurred in a creek along the Sobreiro river. The Newswriter Newspaper gathered that of recent illegal oil bunkering is on increase in the Niger Delta, especially in the Kalabari axis of the region. Besides the illegal bunkering, the Kalabari creeks in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area Akulga has become a dangerous flashpoint for sea piracy. In the past three (3) months, Kula community in Akulga is under siege as sea pirates have taken over the area.
Fishing and other related business activities have been reduced to the barest minimum as sea pirates are terrorizing the water ways in Akulga. Fishermen had fled the area, while fishingports have been deserted following the increasing wave of insecurity in the creeks.
Penultimate week the decomposing bodies of four (4) marine police personnel have been recovered in Abonnema Creek in Akulga.
An informed security source told our crime correspondent that the bodies of the slain policemen had gunshot wounds.
As at the time of filing this report there is heavy military patrol along the creeks in the Kalabari axis of the state.
In a related development as part of Exercise CROCODILE SMILE, troops of 2 Brigade Nigerian Army in an anti-cultism operation on Tuesday cleared a notorious kidnappers camp at Obiozumini near Obite in Ogbema/Ndoni/Egbema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The troops who were earlier ambushed engaged and subdued the kidnappers.
A statement by Army Spokesperson, Col Sani Usman said one kidnapped victim was rescued from the camp adding that the ongoing operation would be sustained until criminality is subdued.
He said the troops during raids, cordon and search operations as part of the training exercise, have also discovered and destroyed 52 illegal refineries and refinery cooking pots in Krakrama, Bille and Better land community in the Kalabai axis of the State.
Usman also said troops discovered 6 refining cooking pots at Better Land community which unfortunately could not be destroyed instantly because of proximity to the community.
“They also recovered 2 high powered Engine boats, 10 empty drums and 1 pumping machine. Plans for destroying the illegal refinery with Swamp Buggy is in progress.” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the people of Abonema in Akuku-Toru Local government area of Rivers State have condemned media reports that four Marine Policemen were killed in the area.
However, the Abonema Council of Chiefs in a statement read by the Assistant Secretary of the council, Chief Okis Bobmanuel said the incident happened at Abonema Wharf in the Port Harcourt metropolis and not Abonema in Akuku-Toru Local government area.
Chief Bobmanuel said the unconfirmed report published by numerous media organizations had negative impact on the community, which had always supported security agencies.
While sympathising with the families of the deceased Marine Police officers, the Abonema Council of Chiefs cautioned the media against airing unconfirmed reports that were capable of breaching the peace of a community.
The statement reads, ”the attention of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs have been drawn to yet another malicious and misleading media publications that ‘Four Marine Police Men’ were killed in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
“The content of the media publications which failed to reflect the confirmation of the Rivers State Police Command as to where the incident occurred further contradicted itself that the same Four Police Men were killed in the popular Abonnema Wharf, which incidentally is in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area
“It may interest you to know that this is not the first time Abonnema community has been negatively portrayed in the eyes of the public for a crime that has not occurred in the area and in reality these reports smack evil, and one may ask the motive behind such publications.
“The condemnable crime that occurred in far away Port Harcourt City Local Government being transposed to Akuku-Toru Local Government Area and labelled Abonnema, to say the least is a great injustice and misrepresentation of the Abonnema community.
“It is disheartening and disappointing to note that until now the official position of the Rivers State Police Command regarding this dastardly act has not been made known; yet some media houses whose responsibility are to cross-check facts threw away their professional ethics and went ahead to publish such unpleasant news about Abonnema Community.
“As responsible custodians of the tradition of the people of Abonnema, we would relentlessly offer our unreserved cooperation and support to the security agencies in the State to nip on bud any form of crime in the community, this we have sworn to do regardless of whose ox is gored.
“As such, leadership of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs urge the reading/ listening public and security agencies in the State to know that our community is peace- loving, accommodating and cooperative with the security apparatus.
“In the mean time, as a responsive council of chiefs we join other well-meaning Nigerians to genuinely sympathise with the Rivers State Police Command, the family of these gallant officers over the lost of their beloved ones.
But we will continue to see and regard the publications as being spurious until justice is done.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we urge media practitioners in Rivers State and the Police to cross-check their facts and make public the actual place the killing of the Four Gallant Police men occurred.
“This we believe will stop the unnecessary tension and smearing of the good image of Abonnema community.” ###