By JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT— RESIDENTS of Kokori in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday, fled the community in large numbers over fear of arrest and harassment by soldiers deployed to the area.
Some of them that spoke to Vanguard at Eku, said they were running from Kokori for fear of their lives.
A septuagenarian, who was in company of some of his children, said they were heading to Agbor, where they hoped to spend time with relatives until peace returned to the area.
The septuagenarian, who said he had no money to foot the transport fare to Agbor, appealed for assistance from those around.
He said they had to trek some distance from Kokori community before they could get a motor bike rider, who offered to take them to Eku community for free.
Meanwhile, President-General of the community, G. S. Avwunudiogba, has appealed to soldiers to mellow down on their operations in the area.
He said: “We are not against soldiers doing their job. But they should also help us with the way they go about it so that the community is not deserted.
“You can see everybody running for fear of their lives. Some neither know nor have where to go to. It is really worrisome.”
He said they were trying to set up a refugee camp in a nearby community, but expressed fears that those at the camp could still be harassed.
He further appealed to the Federal and state governments to intervene in the situation, so farmers could go to their farms for harvest.
He said: “This is predominantly a farming community. Our women and men, for fear of being arrested, no longer go to their farms.
“The Federal and the state government should intervene. Kokori has always been a peaceful oil community; the records are there for all to see. We have never harassed operators of our oil.”
There were strong speculations in several quarters in the area that the alleged dreaded kidnap kingpin, Kelvin, had not been arrested as alleged by security operatives.
He said: “We still hear the soldiers asking for Kelvin. We wonder if he has been arrested as alleged.
“Doubts heightened in the community when papers carried a story that the dreaded Kelvin, allegedly killed by the JTF, had resurfaced. Nobody has seen the photograph of Kelvin in the media.”