By Egufe Yafughorhi and Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT: Hundreds of residents of about ten communities in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State, Ogoni extraction, have pleaded with the Federal Government to make efforts toward rebuilding and resettling them.
The protesters claimed that FG destroyed the communites in 1994 over an unknown reason, but however, pleaded for rebuilding of their communities by the government.
The protesting communities Lekumakan, Umba, Oloko, Tumbe and others, who matched to Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, also urged Governor Nyesom Wike, to intervene in the matter and provide basic social amenities to the affected communities.
In April 1994, the military had allegedly invaded some communities of Ogoni, sacked residents and destroyed houses, 24 years later residents of the affected communities say they are yet to resettle.
Speaking, the leader of the protest and Coordinator of Ogoni Refugees, Chief Ledee Banadon, explained that they took to the streets because they have been abandoned for years by the government at all levels.
Banadon said: “We protesting today are Ogoni refugees. We Ogoni people are peaceful and we welcome strangers anytime. We have contributed much in the development of this nation, but we are suffering for years.
“We understood that the Federal Government is cheating on us. This is why Ogoni started Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People. But in 1994 a multinational oil company sponsored the military to destroy our communities on the 4th of April 1994, Easter Sunday. That day we were in church when military came and started shooting.
“They killed our brothers, sisters, husbands wives and destroyed our houses. They chased us out of our communities. It affected over ten communities in Tai Local Government Area of Ogoni. Now for more than 20 years we are still living as refugees in other communities. Some of us who ran to Benin Republic and Cameroon are still there.
“We want the government to help rebuild our communities for us so that we can come back and live our lives. We are suffering too much outside. Last Saturday, some of came back to live in the bush that has taken over but the military came and arrested over 6 of our men.
“We are here to pleade with our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who has peace and development at heart to help us. We do not have anything to survive on.”
We don’t have road
However, one of the protesters, who hails from Oloko, Faith Sunday, said that the communities have been abandoned, demanding that the state government provide them with school, electricity and good roads.
Sunday said: “In 1994, the military men came and killed our people and chased us away from the communities. We have been finding it difficult to survive.
“We do not have road, no school, no electricity and hospital. We have been abandoned that is why we are here today. We want the state government to help and we want the Federal Government to rebuild our community so we can go back.”