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Security operatives, Rivers’ residents clash claims 8

By Jimitota Onoyume
EIGHT residents of Bundu waterfront have so far been confirmed dead in the shooting Monday morning by security operatives who were in the area to pave way for the enumeration of houses for demolition.

Chairman of the Bundu Ama Community (the waterfront), Prince Williams Addah, identified the dead as  Messrs John Igbikiowubo, Tonye Dakoru, Abiye Yebusika, Ibitory Silas and Peter Iyanabo. Others are Isaac Iyenengi, Obianimi Valentine and Johnson Jama.  He said no fewer than 30 persons sustained various degree of bullet injuries.

He said it was likely more corpses would be discovered at a river in the area by the evening.

He added that some residents, during the sporadic shooting by the security operatives, jumped into the river.

Meanwhile, at the resumed sitting of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, yesterday,  in a suit brought before it by Okrika people challenging the move by the Rivers State Government to demolish some water fronts in Port Harcourt, lead counsel to the applicants, Professor Yemi Osibajo (SAN), pleaded with the court to prevail on the government and security operatives not to make real the alleged threat to move into the area for the demolition and to also order the security operatives laying siege to the area to vacate there.

Osibajo said he was shocked that in spite of a subsisting court directive restraining the government from moving into the area, security operatives went ahead firing indiscriminately in the area on Monday morning, an action, he said, resulted in the death of two of his clients whose names he gave as Obianime Valentine and Johnson Jama with about 33 others sustaining severe gun shot wounds.

Responding, lead counsel to the first and second respondents i.e. the governor of the state and the attorney-general of the state, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), said there was no evidence to show such had been done in the area. He also argued that there was no substantial connection between the alleged invasion of the area by the security operatives and the matter in court. He then urged the court to proceed with the scheduled business of the day. The court later rose for about 45 minutes.

In her ruling, Justice G. K. Olotu conceded to the argument of the lead counsel to the respondents that no link had been established between the invasion by the security operatives and the issue in court. But to protect lives and property in the area, she restrained the state government from taking steps to make real its threat to commence demolition of houses in the area.

Continuing, she said since security situation had been compromised in the area it was proper to allow security operatives in the area to remain but they should not harass residents. “They should not harass any one but they can arrest for crime”, she said.

Adding, Justice Olotu said since the SSS was not a party in the suit the state director of the SSS should oversee the operations of the security operatives in the area.  She further directed the counsels to the applicant to provide counsel of the respondents within forty eight hours link between the invasion and the issue in court. She also ordered counsel to the respondents to make necessary enquiries within forty eight hours and report back to the court.

Justice Olotu adjourned the matter to November 9 for the preliminary objections of the respondent.

Meanwhile, security presence was heavy at the court premises. The police deplored an armored personnel career. Hundreds of Okrikans mobilized to the court to witness the proceeding. In a chat later with newsmen at the court premises , Senator Chief  (Dr) Tari Sekibo (Mfr), Oduabaji, chairman, Okrika divisional council of chiefs pleaded with his Okrikans to continue to maintain the peace. He said they should rely on the instrument of the law to resolve the issue.


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