The growing tension over elections, activities of politicians, soldiers and political thugs in Rivers and Bayelsa States is raising the temperature of the volatile region, leading to fears of an escalation that may precipitate a crisis in the oil industry and the country’s economy.
In the notorious Akuku Toru Local Government Area, three soldiers were gunned down in the Obonoma community by gunmen said to be wearing military uniforms.
The unfortunate incident happened Saturday night at the Samson Jack military checkpoint by the men said to be riding on motorcycles.
Already, the traditional rulers in the area are absolving their people of blame as a reaction is still awaited from the military authorities.
However, in neighbouring Abonema community and its environs, there are reports of residents leaving the area.
One source said: “The crisis in abonnema builds. The military are in the waterways so no boat is moving in the whole local government. (Thousands of) refugees have trekked out of Abonnema, many of whom are taking refuge in Degema, which is across the bridge from Abonnema. They walked out so have no food, extra clothing, etc. They need relief supplies. Four of our guys are going to check out the situation and my staff will try to bring out his aged father. What help can be given quickly?”
The Rivers State government and the Army have been trading blames over the situation in the State, where the sitting Governor, Nyesom Wike, has no formidable opponent with the court disqualification of All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates.
The attitude of the government and the Army has become so belligerent the ordinary people are on edge, one source volunteered.
However, many allege that powerful forces are trying to make the State ungovernable to foist a contraption. “This could have a ripple effect that can wake up sleeping dogs of trouble in the Niger Delta, and our economy will suffer,” a source said.
In Bayelsa State, the Chairman òf the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Moses Cleopas, has raised the alarm that over 2000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party who fled the violence in Nembe Bassambiri on the eve of the Presidential election were being prevented from returning to their homes.
Cleopas called on the Federal Government and the relevant security agencies to intervene in the tense security situation in Nembe Bassambiri where thugs backed by soldiers attacked PDP members to cart away election materials to Dairus Hotel for thumb-printing.
The PDP State Chairman called on the Nigerian Army High Command to deploy a fresh set of soldiers to Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas insisting that the current set of soldiers had been compromised to tarnish the image of the establishment by aiding criminality and electoral violence in Bayelsa.
The PDP Chairman expressed shock at the fact that the Army has not been able to arrest any of the APC thugs who have been shooting and harassing innocent people in Nembe Bassambiri.
He said it was rather shocking that the men of the Nigeria Army had commenced a process of harassing innocent members of the PDP with a view to perpetrating low voters turn out to the detriment of the party in the area.
According to him, soldiers were sighted discussing with an APC thugs who led people to break into the residence of a PDP Stakeholder in the area, and former former Commissioner for Special Duty, and later Water Resources, Chief Kuroghofa Walter Benwari.
He called on the security agencies to ensure that the PDP members who fled Bassambiri during the attack by thugs aided by soldiers in Nembe Bassambiri are allowed to their residences without harassment.
However, the PDP Chairman commended the leadership of the Nigerian Police for the bold decision to arrest the masterminds of the abduction of the Deputy Commissioner òf Police in charge of Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, Mr. Kola Okunola during the last election.
He called for immediate prosecution of the people that abducted Okunola and almost beheaded him before he was rescued by the whiskers for refusing to accept to manipulate result in favour òf Sunny Goli and his thugs.
Cleopas stressed that only such a step would restore the people’s confidence in the security agencies whose image is badly scathed by the events of the last election.