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Displaced Okerenkoko natives return home

By Emma Amaize
WARRI—SOME of the displaced persons from Okerenkoko community in Warri South-West local government area of Delta State that managed to return home on Wednesday met their homes burnt by soldiers.

Vanguard learnt yesterday that they are putting up in the dilapidated burnt buildings, while waiting the state government to fulfil its promise of building a new town for them.

One of them, Nanakumo Boi, who spoke to Vanguard on phone, said that the houses of Papa Johnny and Papa Govunor, worth about N300 million were among those burnt and that some of the victims were erecting makeshift structures.

“Only about two to three houses were not burnt, all others were burnt”, he said, adding that “the soldiers have pulled out, I did not see  any soldier here when we came in on Wednesday”.

A source told Vanguard that only the church, town hall and clinic were spared by the soldiers.
However, normalcy is gradually returning to Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South-West local government of Delta State, following the return of some of the displaced persons to their homes in Okerenkoko and other communities.

The excitement that greeted the return of some of the displaced persons on Wednesday was absent  yesterday (Thursday), as there was no massive movement , but a  source said the waterways have been opened and people were free to return home on their own with or without escort by the JTF.

But there was panic in some communities at Benikrukru and Kokodiagbene on Wednesday, following some gunshots fired by soldiers, and many people ran into the nearby bush for safety.

It was gathered that at about 8pm on the said day, some persons were said to have moved their speedboat very close to a convoy of the JTF said to be escorting some Chevron Nigeria Limited supplies and the soldiers fired warning shots to scare them away.

An account said the soldiers fired at those who were returning to their homes but the chairman of the community, Joseph Okpiri Wuruyai, confirmed to Vanguard when contacted yesterday that the JTF did not open fire at displaced persons.

Press Secretary (Warri) to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr. Linus Chima, also said “there was an incident involving the Nigerian Military and some persons near Benikrukru in Warri South West council area.

Information available from sources close to the area at the time of the incident indicates that a speedboat came too close to a convoy enroute Oghara from Forcados forcing the Military to fire warning shots.

”Thankfully, no one was injured and there was no attack on any specific community or military engagement with anyone, as only warning shots were fired because of the boat which came too close to the convoy.

”The Nigerian Military has explained that the waterways have been re-opened, but also advised against movement of speed boats in the area at night. Normalcy has since been restored in the area and people are going about their business”, he asserted.


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