Tony John, Port Harcourt
At last, His Royal Majesty, Eze Jonathan O.G. Amadi, the Nye-Nwe Ali of Elele-Alimini, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, seems to have heaved a sigh of relief, as the Nigerian Army has brought succour to him.
Recently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major General Felix Agugo, presented a Prado VX sportb utility vehicle (SUV) to the monarch, to replace his Land Cruiser VX SUV, which was destroyed by hoodlums in the area.
Also, the Army renovated the palace of the king and fenced the compound. It was a prompt response from the Chief of Army Staff after the attack by youths.
During the presentation, the 102 years old monarch, who has sight challenges, was guided by the GOC and other palace chiefs, as well as other community leaders, to where the vehicle was parked in his premises.
The old man beamed with smiles when he touched the insignia of his title on the vehicle. Also, the community people were filled with joy at the fulfillment of the promise by the Nigerian Army.
The monarch told Daily Sun in an interview: “I feel very happy today. I am happier than any of you here today. And I will continue to be happier.
“You are all my children and you all will continue to be my children for ever and ever,” he prayed.
Speaking for the palace, Chief Mike Elechi, a prominent traditional ruler in Elele, described the event as memorable. He said it was a promise fulfilled.
Elechi chronicled the genesis of the attack, allegedly instigated by dubious individuals in the community, who were against the community looking for a solution to address their security challenges.
He recalled: “The incident happened in early November, 2019. In the wake of where communities were trying to take their security in their hands, the Nye-Nwe Ali approved the setting up of internal security.
“With that setting up of internal security, some miscreants, I can believe, sponsored some bad boys; saying if His Royal Majesty should approve the internal security, they should burn down his house.
“I was told that this incident happened at about 2am. The vehicle was parked beside his window. You can even see the burnt vehicle there. So, the attack had direct impact on his window.
“So, may be, if there was no intervention, they would have even burnt him alive inside. So, that was what happened”, he explained.
According to him, since the GOC visited the monarch with message from Chief of Army Staff, peace has been restored in the area.
“I think Elele is one of the quiet places in the entire Rivers State. People can now stay awake this midnight. They can even move about till 1am. Elele has returned to its normal situation because the military stepped in immediately.
“We commend the military for the situation we have today in the state. We commend Chief of Army Staff, who has been a friend of this community. He is like a son to His Royal Majesty. He has been a friend to this community right from the time he was in Rivers State. We commend him for promptly assembling the action General (Agugo), who came here and took the message immediately.
He advised youths of the community thus: “If somebody from far away can realise the importance of our majesty, I don’t think what the youths, who ventured into burning this vehicle and destroying the Nye-Nwe Ali place is right. It is unfair and very bad and they should have a change of heart.
“They should look forward, so that they can be assisted because, if the Chief of Army Staff can do this, what will the paramount ruler tell him (Buratai) that he cannot intervene?
Speaking on the reign of the monarch, Chief Elechi said: “It is the grace of God that has kept the Nye-Nwe Ali this far. It is God Almighty that has kept him alive. And you can see he is a very humble person. He very intelligent despite his handicap. He does not hurt anybody.
“He is a bridge to everybody both to the chiefs and youths. It is just that the devil entered, I think the whole Nigeria.
“But, the worse is Rivers State. The devil entered people’s minds in Elele; an uprising which has never happened in our history, not even when the very humble main person is the paramount ruler.
Speaking too, chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, thanked the Nigerian Army for such an invaluable gesture.
Nwanosike expressed: “We must first give all the glory to God Almighty, Who has kept him alive. What the Nigerian Army has shown clearly today, is to put smile on the Operation Crocodile Smile 4 they are doing.
“With this kind of venture and programme, it has boosted the confidence of the people over the activities ofthe Nigerian Army.
“This man (monarch) here is our father. He is the symbol of authority of us as a people. What this gesture is to us is, it has given us hope that we can strive to live better in our society.
“What the Nigerian Army has done today is to restore the confidence in the people of Elele-Alimini. You wouldn’t know our story yesterday. But, you can see that in the last three months, the security agencies in Rivers have made sure that Ikwerre Local Government and Nigeria are able to live in peace. And as you can see, I have come here to support the Nigerian Army and the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area are here to support them very well.
“You can hear what our father just said, that we should keep thanking the Nigerian Army for him. That he is happy.
“And I want to use this opportunity to call on the hoodlums, who are bent on perpetrating evil on the lives of people of Ikwerre Local Government Area, that there is no hiding place for them.
“They have only one option to either surrender and live peacefully with our people, or to stay way from this community, because we are peace-loving people”, Nwanosike warned.
In an interview, the GOC, Major-General Agugo, said that when Army got wind of the attack, they did not stop at apprehending the suspects, the Army boss directed that the burnt SUV should be replaced and the house renovated.
He disclosed that the gesture was part of activities of the Army to end the Operation Crocodile Smile 4 in the Area of Responsibility.
Also part of the corporate social responsibility of the 6 Division rendered in the community was free medical outreach.
Agugo said: “The Nigerian Army is completely committed to the protection of life and property, especially the unity of the country and by extension that of the community (Elele-Alimini).
“As part of the engagements, the exercise carries out programmes that would impact positively on the people.
“What the programme meant is to build the confidence of the military and the monarch on the community.
“We are happy the people are out in their numbers to appreciate our contribution in the community. You can see the free medical services that are being rendered to the people. These services are part of our Corporate Social Responsibility to end the Operation Crocodile Smile 4”, Major-General Agugo.
Meanwhile, some of the natives, who received free medical treatment , lauded the Army for bring healthcare delivery closer to the people, and mostly importantly, ameliorating the devastation of the monarch occasioned by the attack.