TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Traditional rulers under the aegis of Ogbar Oyigbo have implored the Defence Headquarters not to withdraw soldiers deployed to restore peace in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State in order to prevent members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), from regrouping.
The chiefs have also urged all those who deserted Oyigbo to return as normalcy has been restored.
The appeal to the military authorities was made when the Publisher of the Ovation International Magazine, Chief Dele Momodu, visited Oyigbo, to assess the situation in the area ground.
A high chief, Eze Ukwu III, Louis Okorie, told Momodu and his delegation that the community chiefs did not approve the withdrawal of soldiers from Oyigbo.
He expressed serious concern that if soldiers are withdrawn from Oyigbo, IPOB members would unleash violence in the area.
“The Ogbakor Oyigbo General held a meeting here yesterday and said they will not allow the removal of soldiers from Oyigbo. On 12th of November, 2020, we met with the Local Government Chairman, Gerald Oforji, informing him of our plight.
“We don’t want Army to be withdrawn for the benefit of Oyigbo people. We need to be careful of the remnants of IPOB terrorists. We thank Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, for imposing curfew which has calmed down the situation in Oyigbo”.
In the same vein, High Chief, Lisbery Onyegorom, narrated that indigenes of Oyigbo were astounded by the wanton destruction unleashed on their community by members of the outlawed, IPOB.
“We were surprised by the level of destruction by the IPOB. We are Rivers State and Niger Delta people. Our people are not members of IPOB. I am not aware of any Oyigbo indigene who is a member. We don’t allow that.
“Now, that the IPOB have killed some soldiers, all of them have run away. The Army is investigating and fishing them out. Most of the IPOB members arrested have given vital information about the remnants.
“We are in support of the Governor’s ban on IPOB activities across Rivers State and hoisting of IPOB Flag”, he declared.
Onyegorom frowned at allegation of extrajudicial killings levelled against Nigerian Army by some persons working for some extraneous forces playing petty politics with the Oyigbo issue.
“We are solidly behind our governor’s effort to maintain peace in Oyigbo. The governor did not say, go and kill people. The Army came on a rescue mission. That’s what they came for. It is the deployment of the Army that give us comfort to remain here. For now, we hear of threat to protest again. Army is going no where. Let the Army stay until we are sure of peace in Oyigbo.
“Those who ran away should come back. The Army is not chasing anybody. Army is not killing any person. Let the Army stay, until we are sure peace has returned”, Onyegorom appealed.
On his part, the Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Gerald Oforji, said most of the negative information peddled in the media on the situation in the area were unfounded.
“Today, I am very happy for the visit by the Ovation family to assess the wanton destruction carried out on the 20 October by the IPOB. Today, they have come to assess and see things for themselves based on lopsided information they have been getting concerning Oyigbo. I believe with what they have seen today, the world can confirm that most of those negative information posted against Oyigbo, against Rivers State, are unfounded.
Chief Dele Momodu said he was on an assessment cum sympathy visit to Oyigbo to see the level of wanton destruction perpetrated by IPOB.
Momodu, described as unfounded and untrue insinuation in some quarters that the military have been killing innocent persons in Oyigbo.
“The way they describe Oyigbo as if there is massacre, there is no massacre going on. I have not seen any massacre. I believe, we have moved round extensively, nobody has told me not to move to anywhere. A lot of people have challenged me that I cannot come to Rivers and visit Oyigbo.
“So, I am here. For me, it is a mixture of sadness and joy. Joy, that I am able to come here in peace, because the impression I got was that nobody could come here at all; that everywhere has been taken over by the military and people are been massacred. I have gone round. I went to the market, I have gone to the police headquarters that was allegedly burnt down.”
Momodu later inspected some State government projects which included: Umunju-Umueze, Umuroke- Umusu-Umuelechi-Umuokpurukpu-Umuagu-Umugwu-Umueke and Umuoyoro Road. Others are: Umuakrikpo Community Primary School, Umuoyoro Community Primary School, Community Primary School Umuobasi Eberi and State School Obibi Umuogba.