By Jimitota Onoyume, Port Harcourt
Ogba Egbema Ndoni Local Government Area in Rivers State has never been a stranger to tragic happenings. It was in the news again over mindless killings as unknown gunmen stormed the community at about 7pm last Friday, shooting sporadically. This time the scene of the act was Omoku, headquarters of the local government area.
Nobody could say what provoked the heinous act. But at the end of it all, 12 persons were confirmed killed, according to a lady, simply identified as Roseline, who spoke with Vanguard Metro, VM.
She said the gunmen who were armed with sophisticated rifles went from house to house, pulling out their targets and killing them on the spot.
Another eye witness said the invaders carried on as though they had no target. “I am not too sure they had targets because the killings seemed unprovoked and not directed to particular persons,” this source said.
VM gathered that some members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC, lost their lives in the incident, a situation that ruled out political motive in the action of the assailants.
A Mobile P0lice officer was among those brutally murdered that fateful Friday night. The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad who spoke on the sad development, blamed it on cult crisis, stressing that it was a battle for supremacy by rival cult groups.
A news source in the community who pleaded for anonymity said there had been problem among cult groups struggling to control rich resources flowing from oil majors doing business in the area.
According to the source, Ice landers, Big 5 and Dewell are among cult groups engaged in battle for territorial control in the area. “You know that this local government is host to Agip and Total; these are two big multinational oil companies. Certainly groups will spring up in areas like this for attention,” the source said.
Continuing, the source said politicians had also keyed into the crisis to recruit some of the groups as private armies to rig the coming general elections. The local government, according to findings, will certainly be a flash point area because it is where the state Chairman of the PDP, Bro Felix Obua, hails from and there are also key loyalists of Governor Chibuike Amaechi like the deposed state chairman of the PDP, Chief Godspower Ake who is also from the local government. “ So you can imagine what the elections will be like here next year,” , the source said.
Meantime, VM gathered that a youth who was identified as Chiboy was taken hostage on November 8 around the secretariat of the PDP and nothing had been heard about his whereabouts. Some feared that the disappearance of Chiboy had capacity to provoke conflict in the area.
“Chiboy was kidnapped over three weeks ago in front of PDP secretariat. Nothing has been heard of him. Some say he has been killed. This is another thing that could trigger crisis in Omoku,” a source hinted.
The sources further appealed to security operatives to help locate the whereabouts of Chiboy, saying his release will douse tension in the area.
Recall that in July this year about 15 persons lost their lives when armed men on six motorbikes stormed several communities in Egi kingdom area killing innocent people. Just as in this case nobody could explain the cause of their action.