By Egufe Yafugborhi
PORT HARCOURT —A face-off between men of Nigerian Army, 6 Division and suspected oil theft syndicate has reportedly left one soldier, two civil defence personnel and an oil theft kingpin dead following clashes in Ogoni communities of Gio, K-Dere and B-Dere in Rivers State.
Contacted, the 6 Division’s Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, said: “I am in contact with our men on the ground and we will soon get a clearer picture of the situation.”
But community sources say the situation remains tense, even as at last night.
A source told Vanguard, yesterday, that trouble started when, “suspected oil/cult gang attacked a combined team of army and civil defence personnel guarding oil pipeline near the major tarred road leading to Gio, Tai Local Government Area. One soldier, two civil defence personnel were killed and their guns carted away by the rampaging gang.
“Not all the villagers are part of the criminal gangs, but they are all paying the price for what they never bargained for. Soldiers then vengefully broke into houses, destroyed and looted valuables of residents, shooting sporadically as frightened villagers scampered for safety.
“The soldiers, who ransacked Gio later swooped on neighbouring K-Dere-Ogoni and B-Dere-Ogoni in Gokana Local Government Area to avenge the death of their colleague. They invaded Christ Army Church in K-Dere in Gokana Local Government Area and arrested five worshippers.”
Another source from K-Dere said: “The army invasion outside Gio, where their personnel was killed was deliberate and they succeeded in killing their target in a revenge mission. Their target was an oil theft kingpin in Gokana. With the help of his boys, they lured him out and killed him. His corpse should be with the army as I speak.”
In the intensifying violence, followers loyal to the oil theft kingpin were said to have barricaded a section of the East West Road, denying vehicular movement to and fro for some hours, yesterday, before the army showed up and dispersed them.