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Posts tagged ‘Port Harcourt’

Looking For Jobs, Finding Death – By Femi Fani-Kayode.


By Femi Fani-Kayode

Whether anyone likes to accept it or not the bitter truth is that 80 per cent of our GRADUATES are unemployed in Nigeria today whilst 51 per cent of our PEOPLE are also unemployed. As a frightful and grave consequence of these shocking statistics, which I happen to believe may well be a world record in terms of unemployment, a terrible tragedy occurred in Abuja and other parts of our country on 16th March 2014.

Approximately 68,000 of our youths gathered at the National Stadium in Abuja for an aptitude test for just 3000 jobs in the Immigration Service. 10 of those children were killed in a stampede whilst looking for those jobs. It did not stop there. Another 20,000 youths gathered in the stadium at Port Harcourt, Rivers state for aptitude tests for the same 3000 jobs and there was another stampede there as well in which 4 of their colleagues were killed and four more were so badly wounded that they remain in a coma up until now.

Similar gatherings for the same Immigration aptitude test took place in cities all over the country all for the same 3000 jobs and three young pregnant girls together with three male youths were killed in a similar stampede at the stadium in Minna, Niger state.

The only crime that all these children that were either killed, maimed or injured in these horrific stampedes in the stadiums of all these cities like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Minna, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Benin and elsewhere had committed was to try to get a job, to fight for a better life for themselves and to try to secure their future. What a tragedy.

One day Nigerians will appreciate the importance of facts, figures and statistics and the consequences of tolerating atrocious, lousy, insensitive and unaccountable governments. They will also understand the implications of having a government that has no qualms about taking advantage of the pitiful plight of it’s own youths and citizens and scamming them in the most obvious and shameful manner.

Why should anyone be surprised that hundreds of thousands of youths gathered in stadiums all over the country on the 15th March 2014 just to apply for a tiny handful of jobs that are available in Immigration? This is so SIMPLY because there are NO jobs available for these children in our country.

I repeat 80 per cent of our graduates are unemployed and 51 per cent of our people are unemployed. Why won’t they die and be killed or injured whilst looking for the few jobs that are available? Why won’t they gather in stadiums all over the country in their hundreds of thousands just to do an aptitude test for a job in Immigration for which there are only 3000 vacancies? Why should anyone be surprised by this madness and this turmoil? Why should anyone be moved by this horrific carnage when it is now a regular phenomenon in our country for children to be slaughtered. If they are not butchered whilst at school by islamist fundamentalists they are slaughtered whilst they are looking for jobs from a heartless government which has effectively destroyed their future.

Yet look for jobs they must because these children and these youths are desperate and they are suffering. To make matters worse they are also being taken advantage of and scammed by their own government who are desperate to extort money from them by all means available. If this were not the case why would the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the Minister of Internal Affairs order that each and every one of those youths that flooded the stadiums in their hundreds of thousands and that stood in the sun should be made to pay 1000 naira each for the forms that they were to use to do the aptitude test at the various stadiums all over the country.

Someone was set to make a whole lot of money considering the fact that over one hundred thousand youths were involved in this shameless exercise and the amount of cash that they must have made runs into hundreds of millions of naira. The whole thing was just a massive and monuemental scam to extort hundreds of millions of naira from these poor, young and innocent souls and many of our youths have paid for it with their lives.

This is what President Goodluck Jonathan’s Nigeria has done to them. We now have an army of angry, jobless, frustrated, disillusioned and desperate youths on our hands in this country and consequently we are literally sitting on a keg of gunpowder. May God help us and may He forgive us for failing these children and destroying their futures.

Other than this I will say no more on this matter because the truth is that most Nigerians no longer ”give a damn” when blood is shed and when lives are taken. This is so even when those lives are those of children. Permit me to give an example. On the very same day that our youths were dying in stadiums looking for jobs with Immigration another 100 innocent people were being slaughtered by ”unknown gunmen” in southern Kaduna and no-one seems to care. Again only two days before then, on March 12th 2014, 110 innocent Nigerians were butchered by what were described in the press as a group of ”fulani gunmen who were on motorbikes” in Katsina state whilst the President was on an official visit there. What a tragedy.

Under President Goodluck Jonathan we have become a nation of vampires where the death of innocent children and youths means nothing and where we cannot even provide jobs or a decent standard of living for our young ones. Instead we attempt to scam them and to extort money from them. What a government, what a country.

If our government had any sense of decency, justice or accountability the Comptroller-General of Immigration and the Minister of Internal Affairs would have not only been compelled to resign or fired by now but they would also have been arrested and would be facing criminal charges for, at the very best, criminal negligence and manslaughter and, at the very worse, accessories before the fact to murder. Yet we know that that will never happen as long as President Goodluck Jonathan is in power. Far from it.

As a matter of fact instead of bowing his head in shame and showing any sense of contrition or remorse the Minister of Internal Affairs has come out shamelessly and blamed the dead youths themselves by saying that ”they did not exercise enough patience during the exercise”. May God forgive this man. I wonder if he would have expressed such sentiments if any of his own children had been killed in the stampede.

Permit me to end this contribution by quoting from a moving email that I received from a dear Nigerian family friend who herself is a mother and who presently resides in the United Kingdom with her family. She sent it to me the day after the tragic death of the youths in the stadium. I have obtained her permission to share her words in this write-up but for obvious reasons I will not mention her name. She wrote-

”Good morning uncle Femi. I honestly don’t know where to start from. My heart is so heavy. What is it about Nigeria that (or is it we as a nation) nothing  good comes out of the news. I’m beginning to wonder if there is nothing wrong with me when I go through websites expectant of only bad news. Why don’t I ever expect anything good to come out if Nigeria? I don’t even know what to tell my children again. I try to give them a balanced view of the country but something would always come up to make nonsense of that. Why would any sane person want to come and live in that madness called Nigeria where nothing is guaranteed. Life is not guaranteed, jobs are not guaranteed, education is not guaranteed, security is not guaranteed, a decent daily meal is not guaranteed. I could go on and on.

I came to a realization recently which is self-preservation. Abi shebi it’s life/self first. When I saw the early morning pictures of the crowd of youths at the Abuja stadium my heart just sank because I could almost write the script of what would follow. And so I waited (expectantly?)and wasn’t disappointed. Would anything come out of it? No. Would life go on? Yes. Do they care? No. And the moron of a Minister had the gall to say that candidates died because of ”impatience”. Meanwhile the so-called aptitude test was just a ruse. They had handpicked their preferred candidates weeks ago. The crowd alone told me that we have a serious problem of youth unemployment yet Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would come out and be reeling stupid figures. Please tell her that she’s not fooling anyone. As if the unemployment is not bad enough government is opening more universities like daycare centers and still granting licenses for private universities. Who is going to absorb these teeming unemployed graduates? Where are the industries? Are you creating an enabling environment for investment? In fact I’m just done with agonizing over Nigeria. Self first please!”

Her words and counsel moved me to tears. As far as I am concerned she captured the mood very well and her simple yet succinct submission is reflective of the thinking and deep pain of millions of Nigerians from all over the world that are fast losing hope in their nation. Yet what can we do but just continue to hope and pray. What can we do for the future of our children and to better the fortunes of our nation? This is indeed food for thought. As the bible says, ”may God deliver us from bloodthirsty and evil men” and ”may the balm of Gilead heal our wounds and comfort our mourning souls”.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

APC registers 100,000 non-indigenes in Rivers, begins mobilisation for 2015 elections.


 

About 100,000 non-indigenes in Rivers State have registered as members of the All Progressives Congress

(APC), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Interim State Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, has disclosed.

Eze said the information was given this weekend by Alhaji Yusuf Tanko, Chairman of the Registration Committee of the Non Indigenes Political Forum (NIPF) of Rivers APC, during a meeting of the Forum held at the State APC Secretariat in Port Harcourt.

He quoted Alhaji Tanko as saying while submitting a preliminary report of the work done by his committee during the recent APC nationwide membership registration exercise: “Our target was to register about 800,000 non-indigenes but due to the attacks on members by PDP hoodlums we could only mobilise about 100,000 non-indigenes who are genuine members of APC today. With this number we are capable of mobilising the 1.6m non indigenes voters in Rivers State for any election in favour of APC candidates any day, anytime. I commend and congratulate my colleagues particularly Chief Uchenna Okokoba, the NIPF Coordinator, who was on our neck to ensure that the required result is achieved. Of course, greater thanks go to Barr. Chuma Chinye, Leader of NIPF and the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, who ensured that all the relevant logistics were made available to us.”

Eze in a statement issued this afternoon in Port Harcourt also quoted Barr. Chinye as commending the committee for its achievement. He said the commissioner assured the new APC members that they have made the right decision, stating that all non-indigenes in Rivers State can be assured that the APC administration come 2015 will give them all the necessary support to succeed in their various endeavours in the state.

“Let me reiterate that Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, apart from being very supportive is interested in all that we are doing as he has assured us of his commitment to carry us along; so we need to unite and ensure that an APC administration is installed in Rivers State come 2015 and totally reject PDP as the party has declared war on Rivers State and those living in the state, including our members besides Gov. Amaechi has proved that he is a nationalist who is committed to ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians residing in Rivers State,” Barr. Chinye reportedly said.

The statement said that after brainstorming on the way forward, the meeting mandated the NIPF leadership to begin mobilisation for the 2015 elections by undertaking a tour of all state’s chapters to ensure that members of the Forum participate actively in the party congresses expected to start later this month.

Eze said that apart from himself, other NIPF leaders present at the meeting included Chief Ade Adeogun, Chairman of Rivers State Sanitation Commission, and Mr. David Iyofor, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Amaechi.

•Photo shows Barr. Chuma Chinye, Leader of NIPF and the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry.

Source News Express

The Unending Military Siege to Delta State By Ogaga Ifowodo.


 

Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

Delta is a densely populated state that also happens to house a vast amount of oil and gas. The Sapele-Warri-Ughelli corridor, extending to Port Harcourt, is the industrial and commercial heartbeat of the state and has a high volume of vehicular traffic. A testimony to the socio-economic importance of this corridor is the never-to-be-completed East-West Road that spans four states: Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom. Yet, it is precisely the short stretch of it between Warri and Ughelli that the Federal Government has managed to make motorable, seven years and N349 billion after, that exhibits the unbearable hardship of military checkpoints (MCPs) through which a permanent siege has been laid to the state. If you have ever travelled on that road at peak hours, or worse, are a frequent commuter between Warri and any of the towns further south—Ughelli, Patani, and all of Isokoland—then a nightmare for you must be a dream of sandbags and oil barrels that create bottlenecks in the middle of your road.

On Saturday, the 15th, I set out from Warri with an older cousin—I call him Brother Reuben—and his wife on a trip to visit my mother in Otor-Owhe, but with stops in Iyede to attend a funeral and Oleh for a wedding.  We crawled through the first MCP at Okuokokor in about twenty minutes, though from the DSC roundabout where the East-West Road begins to the checkpoint is less than half a kilometre.  At about 11:05 AM, our progress was halted with sterner resolve as we fell into one of now-three-and-now-four lanes caused by the MCP just before Beta Glass Company. For forty–three minutes, we stewed in the sun and expressed our frustrations in hisses and impotent rage. As we passed through the checkpoint, we noticed that the sentry hut was empty and the two soldiers in the vicinity were chatting with someone in the nearby petrol station. Thankfully, they had ensured to deploy helmets atop the sandbags to stand in for them! On our return, at 6:20 PM, we saw the gridlock ahead and turned just in time at Delta Power Station into the Otor-Udu Road, an alternative route to our destination in the Udu-Ovwian area of Warri.  We might as well have gnashed our teeth through the Delta Glass MCP for we ran smack into another in Ujevwu! Suffice it to say that a journey of twenty minutes, give or take, from the Delta Glass MCP took a full hour longer. But we were lucky: I heard stories of two to three hours lost to the East-West Road checkpoints.

But why build roads, supposedly for the freer flow of traffic, and then erect obstacles in them to defeat the purpose?  To combat kidnappers, I am told. Very funny! And not only because the soldiers do not check vehicles, do not do any actual policing—are indeed often not to be seen at the checkpoints—but also because I am yet to hear of any kidnapper arrested at a military checkpoint. Despite being hemmed in by MCPs, Kelvin Oniarah, the alleged kidnap kingpin of Kokori was arrested in a hotel in Port Harcourt, while one Enueme Ogaga, his alleged sidekick, was nabbed in Ashaka far from a checkpoint. And outside Delta State, the report “Another kidnap kingpin, 6 robbers nabbed in Rivers” (Vanguard, 20 February 2014) informs us that the said kidnapper “was traced to a . . .  bank . . .  where he went to withdraw [the] ransom” paid for his victim.

Checkpoints are an extreme policing device suitable only for a town under military occupation. They are to be used sparingly and only for a specific and immediate goal, then promptly dismantled. As I ranted against military checkpoints—they are a gratuitous infliction of pain; they hinder movement and economic activity and we mount them with glee only because we are not a productive economy, are not in competition with any other nation (crude oil and gas do not travel on the roads); they show us as a conquered people, a land rendered comatose by military dictatorship and civilian brigandage, etc.—my auditors recounted their experiences. On hearing me swear to write a column about the MCPs, Mr George Okoro, a retired Shell Community Relations Coordinator, said, “Well, you may write all you want but our governments delight in seeing us suffer, that’s all.” The next day, on a visit to Professor G.G.  Darah in his Udu-Warri home, I was still in a huff and so, it turns out, was he about the ubiquity of checkpoints in Delta State. He had once counted, he said, “29 checkpoints between Auchi and Asaba.” Delta State, he declared, “is a war zone. You won’t see checkpoints coming from Abuja, until you leave Auchi.”

Elsewhere, countries that take themselves seriously strain to outdo their nearest competitors in lowering the cost of doing business, partly by shortening the time for travelling between two points. And so China develops its new high-speed trains with France, Japan and Germany as its competitors. We do not have a rail transport system that would pass the laugh test; all we have are inadequate and decrepit roads. And yet we find every reason to bring traffic to a halt on them. Perhaps the powers that be who authorised the permanent military siege to Delta State might care to prove Mr Okoro wrong?

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Amaechi, New Rivers CP Ogunsakin Say No To Partisanship.


 

CP Ogunsakin
By SaharaReporters, New York

Newly appointed Rivers State Commissioner, Mr. Tunde Ogunsakin has promised to prosecute the state’s security affairs without bias to either the All Progressives Congress (APC), which Governor Rotimi Amaechi is a member of, or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking in Port Harcourt during an official visit to the governor, Ogunsakin assured that he would police the state without bias, as both the president and the governor have their respective roles in ridding the state of crimes.

“The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the Chief Security Officer of the Federation while the Inspector General of Police is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Federation”, he said.

“Also, in a state, the Executive Governor is the Chief Security Officer and the Commissioner of Police is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the State. This relationship is definitely best appreciated when it is harnessed to ensure peace and tranquillity in the state”.

Ogunsakin revealed his intention to collaborate with various communities, non-governmental organisations, and all other stakeholders. The result of this, he enthused, would be an objective, liberal, firm and non-partisan policing of the state.

“I will deploy my expertise to manage the affairs of the Rivers State Police Command in the best possible professional manner”, he assured. “I will strategically marshal a formidable operational plan that will speedily arrest the trend of all forms of criminality, particularly violent crimes in the state”.

Amaechi himself stated the readiness of the state government to cooperate with the Police in restoring law and order. But he noted that this would be impossible were the Police to support either of the two parties battling for the reins of the state in 2015.

“We are willing to cooperate with the Police to restore law and order. The only thing we need is for the Police to have the courage to restore law and order”, he said.

“The Police must do whatever it takes to restore law and order. Don’t support PDP, and don’t also support APC; just support Rivers people. Please don’t obey any illegal order from the Rivers State Government. What we want is a neutral police commissioner who is firm and [who] understands that the state needs to accommodate everybody — not one that loves to be in any of the political parties”.

Amaechi endured a rancorous relationship with former Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mubu, who was believed to be working for President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP, notoriously banning all forms of political rallies in the state and proscribing activities of such pro-Amaechi groups as the Grassroots Development Initiative, Save Rivers Movement, and the Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation, among many other blatant use of Police apparatus to negate pro-Amaechi individuals and associations.

Aviation Minister Oduah: I won’t allow abandoned projects.


Stella-ODUAH-03

Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, has assured that the ongoing remodelling of airports will be completed in record time

without any abandoned project under her watch.

Oduah spoke after a two-day tour of eight airports at the weekend.

The minister inspected the remodelling of Yola, Sokoto, Ilorin, Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Enugu airports.

Oduah, who decried the abandoned project syndrome in Nigeria, said the present administration was committed to timely completion of projects it started in late 2011 under the Airport Remodelling Project Initiative.

She said: “When we came on board in 2011 and drew up our master plan and implementation road map, which had as its core components the Airport Remodelling Project, we were charged by Mr President to ensure that we complete every project we embark on.

“We assured Mr President that we would see every project to its logical conclusion and we are committed to that. We are fortunate to have his full support and the support of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“The result of that level of support is what you are seeing today. Not only have we completed, inaugurated and put to use a lot of the remodelled airports, work on the remaining ones is at 95 per cent completion. So, under my watch, no project we have begun will be abandoned.”

The minister said the Yola Airport was critical to the successful implementation of the transformation programme in the Aviation sector.

She said it was among the designated perishable cargo centres, adding that its cargo terminal would be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Rivers released 275 suspects Boko Haram arrest sterrorists.


Boko-Haram-members-42-suspected

Two hundred and seventy-five persons among those held by the Police in Rivers State on the suspicion that they are members of the dreaded Boko Haram group, have been released.

Deputy Commissioner State Criminal Investigation Department (DC/CID), Sam Ukaula told reporters in Port Harcourt yesterday that 19 of those arrested are being held for further interrogation.

The arrest of the people travelling in buses on the Rivers –Imo border, has generated huge interest. The House of Representatives has ordered as probe into the

arrests. .

Ukaula said the 19, whose mission in Port Harcourt was not clear, include an illegal immigrant from Niger Republic. One of them, he said, had spent ammunition on him.

The police officer said the interception of the vehicles and arrest of the occupants was necessitated by information to Commissioner of Police Mbu Joseph Mbu, that a great number of the killer squads had been dispatched to cause havoc on Port Harcourt residents.

He explained that the action of the Police was meant to nip the intended trouble in the bud. He absolved the police of political connection.

Earlier reports said those arrested were 320, but Ukaula said yesterday that they were 294.

The suspects were arrested on Sunday morning at the boundary between Imo and Rivers states, in a convoy of 17 buses from Jigawa state. They were held at the state CID until they were screened and freed.

Ukaula said a team of security agencies in the state, including the Army, Police Immigration, customs and SSS assembled to screen the suspects before the 275 could be released.

He said: “It would be recalled that on Friday night of January 24, 2014, the Commissioner of Police received an alarming information that members of Boko Haram were being massively transported to Rivers state particularly, Port Harcourt from certain parts of the country for the purpose of causing havoc on innocent citizens.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Niger Delta Groups Rejects Confab Committee Report.


Niger-Delta-group

Numerous ethnic groups in the Niger Delta have rejected the core ideas recommended by President Goodluck Jonathan’s advisory committee

for the convocation of the forthcoming national conference being planned by the Federal Government. The disaffected groups insist that Mr. Jonathan should, instead, rely on the submissions of various ethnic nationalities in convening the national conference. In addition, the groups described the advisory committee’s recommendation that the National Assembly approve the conference’s outcome and that representation at the conference be based on the 360 federal constituencies as ploys to marginalize the Niger Delta people.

The groups’ positions emerged on Tuesday at the Pan-Niger Delta Conference held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. The Conference was a civil society forum organized by Social Action in conjunction with other civil society groups to consolidate the positions of the Niger Delta ahead of the national conference.

The Niger Delta groups proposed that the ethnic nationalities of Nigeria should be the basis of representation at the national conference, adding that the outcome of the conference should be approved by a referendum. They argued that the use of the geopolitical units as the basis for representation would minimize the voice of the Niger Delta, which consists of several distinct ethnic nationalities.

The groups also want the conference to culminate in the emergence of a brand new constitution for Nigeria rather than the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

Participants at the PNDC included academics, representatives of community organizations, social movements, non-governmental organizations, and ethnic groups. Keynote addresses were delivered by Kimse Okoko, a former president of the Ijaw National Congress and chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigeria, Ben Naanen, the founding secretary of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People and a professor of History and Diplomatic Studies at the University of Port Harcourt, Nnimmo Bassey, a former chair of Friends of the Earth International and director of the Home of Mother Earth Foundation, Ledum Mitee, a former MOSOP president, Ankio Briggs, a Niger Delta activist, Andrew Efemini, who is a professor, and Mofia Akobo.

The Port Harcourt conference was chaired by Ebiegberi Alagoa, an eminent historian. Mr. Naanen served as co-chair.

On October 1, 2013, President Jonathan had announced the establishment of a 13-member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue during his Independence Day speech. The advisory body was headed by Femi Okurounmu, with Akilu Indabawa as its secretary. The committee submitted its report on December 18 last year.

Source: Radio State.

From the Bucket Men to Twon -Brass (4) By Patrick Naagbanton.


 

By Patrick Naagbanton

“Even the one guarding oil facilities force us to pay them money. Even JTF (Joint Task Force, the military task force operating in the delta region) force us to pay them. I am not even worried about the amount, even if they ask us to pay more we will and let them guard us against sea-pirates. We are just paying money for nothing. There was a time sea-pirates attacked us and we went to military people to report to them. They said we should go to police. The reason why we travel in the night is that we pay lesser amount of money, but is risky travelling in the night”, an enraged manager said further.

We were heading southwest still on the New Calabar River, some twenty five minutes before eight p.m., I heard a loud bang like that of a firework blast. I moved to the manager who was in his room, watching a comical Nigerian movie called, “Happy Christmas”

“What is the problem?” I asked.

“Don’t worry, the engine propeller cut off. It won’t affect anything. They will fix it” he responded.

The bell rang again and the boat stopped while the crew members were installing a new propeller. As the manager promised, it didn’t take up to three minutes before a new one was fixed and our journey began. We got to a military house boat in the Bille community to hand over all the ten drums to the military men there.

As we left the military point, I turned to the manager again and asked him what the drums were for. He laughed mischievously and said, “Oga sir, leave me alone oooo. You know what is happening than I know. Let’s talk about other things”, he laughed. I cracked some jokes with him, hoping to get more details about the drums, but he refused to say anything about it. Bille is one of the Kalabari communities, located in the Degema LGA. In early nineteen ninety- two, the Kalabari – Nembe war broke out again. The hostilities continued until two years after. The battle was over the ownership of the oil and gas rich area where Soku gas plant and other oil wells are located. Bille creek was a major battle field. On Thursday, third February, nineteen ninety-four at the Bille creek which is popularly called “Kilometer 90”, Ebigberi Trust, twenty years old then, who had just completed his secondary school, was travelling from Port Harcourt to his Twon- Brass town when attackers struck. He narrated to me in detail how around ten a.m. (in the morning) under the severe harmattan cold then, the incident took place. As they were approaching the Bille creek, seven young men alleged to be Kalabari fighters, dressed in military uniforms, heavily armed with guns opened fire on their speed boat. They were twenty-five persons in the commercial speed boat travelling to Twon-Brass and other Nembe communities along the creeks. There was also another commercial speed boat with same number of passengers, travelling with them. The attackers were in two boats as they saw them coming, used ropes and barricaded the creek route. The other boat travelling with them sped off. Ebigberi Trust and others couldn’t escape like the other boat, they were   attacked. Fourteen persons including a police escort and a Nembe chief were killed. Trust was amongst the eleven who survived the gun attack. Trust is still alive and now a sailor, still sailing in the rough creeks and high seas of the delta. Fighters from the Nembe kingdom were also patrolling the creeks and attacking suspected Kalabari natives. Some calm had returned after the boat incident and others, but armed fighters on both sides were not disarmed. They still have the guns. The route is notorious for sea piracy and illegal oil activities by state and non -state agents.

 

The boat driver was such a great man who knew his job. He sailed west-north, north-west and arrived south-west around ten twenty-five p.m. He didn’t miss the route. He wasn’t using a Compass or a Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or other navigational equipment.  We were at Oluasiri to drop off passengers with their loads of crates of beer (Star and Heineken).  At Oluasiri, a party was going on. Some young men and girls were by the beach side twisting their waists and bodies seriously to the tune of the erotic songs of Nigeria’s rich musician, J.M. Martins. Two loud speakers playing the music were placed by the beach. The chorus was loud. “Baby make you give me your fine love eh/fine love eh/your sweetie sweetie love eh/Baby make you give me your fine fine love eh/your sweetie sweetie love eh”. Such songs in time of crisis can be a big relief.

The Oluasiri people are Nembe people and the community is in one of the oil rich disputed areas. The Kalabari and the Abua people (both Ijaw kingdoms) in Rivers State are saying that they own the area (Oluasiri) and that the Oluasiri people are settlers on their land. The Oluasiri and other Nembe people of Bayelsa State are countering that. Blood has been spilt over this, and now rages the bitter legal battles and media war by Rivers and Bayelsa States over ownership of the oil and gas rich area. As a travel writer, it is not my responsibility to go into the issues of who owns the disputed area, but to merely highlight the prevailing issues in the zones I travel through. But I hope the government would resolve the issue justly and peacefully soon. Poor locals from both sides are the victims of this pointless oil war.

We got to a fishing camp around the Brass River called, “Sansan Village”, to drop off a female passenger, and her two kids and some bags of rice and garri. At the Sansan fish village, instead of having a concrete or iron jetty, planks of wood were used as a platform (jetty) which one climbs into the impoverished fishing village. The wood was old and falling apart. Sand flies, the black tiny, blood-sucking and virus-causing insects swarmed our boat. I was bitten seriously. I ran back to my apartment for safety. At boat room, I saw a fat rat chasing another small one along a wooden pillar by my seat. I chased them away and sat down. We didn’t spend up to six minutes there we sailed out. We diverted through another snake- like creek and entered the Krikakiri area in the Kula community in the Akuku Toru LGA, another Kalabari community in Rivers State. The “Strike Chief” we encountered at the Port Harcourt’s port hails from here. Kula is rich in oil and gas too. The community had witnessed killings related to chieftaincy tussle, violent struggles to benefit from royalties given by Shell and others, and youth leadership crisis. At Krikakiri, our bell rang again, our boat slowed down; the manager came out of his room and handed over two thousand naira notes to some soldiers who were guarding an oil facility there.

Around twelve-thirty a.m., we were at Kampala, a fishing settlement named after the capital of Uganda in East Africa. We were not dropping any passengers. We wanted to pick up a small rectangular empty metal container with us to Twon -Brass.

One of their boats, carrying plenty of wood from the area to Port Harcourt had run into a stubborn storm and the boat sank two days before. After dropping us at Twon Brass, the boat crew members would go to where the boat sank along Nembe creek, dive into the water and use a long rope to tie the floating metal container, just to indicate that a boat had sunk there. Some crew members had taken the empty metal container from Kampala, and had tied it to the tail of our moving boat. We had travelled for about four minutes with the container when waving water from our boat filled it and it cut off and sank. Two crew members pulled off their shirts and dived into the tidal belly of the water, searching for the container. They saw it, but it was filled with water and sinking deeper. They were helpless, returned to the boat sad and feeling dejected. This delayed our movement a bit.

We moved deeper into the Nembe area. The Nembe kingdom of the Ijaw or Ijo nationality has two LGAs( Nembe and Brass ) in Bayelsa State of the central Niger Delta with booming  towns which some of the natives called them ‘ kingdoms’ for some reasons. Around two a.m. (in the morning), I lifted up my eyes to the skies and saw stars over us, which seemed countless and moving closer to us. The morning breeze was chilling and refreshing. We passed Sunnykiri, another busy fishing settlement located on the edge of the windy creek. By three- thirty a.m. we were in the Nembe creek located in the Nembe LGA, a crew member was moving from one chamber of the boat to another, collecting fares and charges on loads. I paid him One thousand five hundred naira (about nine dollars) as my fare.

Nembe is the home of Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, the humble and brilliant Professor Emeritus of history I respect a lot. Alagoa explores the rich oral histories and legends of his people through his historiographical expertise, reconstructs it, and presents it in a very simple and clear manner. In one of his books, The Small Brave City-State (1964), in pages 91 and 92, he wrote, “The early Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch trade in slaves had carried on through the ports of New Calabar and Bonny. It shifted to Nembe Brass Town when the British preventive activities became effective at these ports ….. In the 1880s, after the arrival of Sir George Tubman Goldie’s National African Company (which became the Royal Niger Company, Chartered and Limited, in 1886), the company established supercargoes and the Nembe traders became allies against the common rival, and Liverpool merchants with stations on the Brass River agitated in the British press and parliament against the increasingly intolerable monopoly maintained by the Niger Company at Akassa over all the markets in the interior” .In early two thousand and beyond, Alagoa and I served on the advisory board of the California, US – based National Radio project (NRP).

Nembe is also the home of Emmanuel Gladstone Olawale Rotimi (1938-2000), widely called, “Ola Rotimi”, the famous playwright, theatre director and teacher. Rotimi was the author of the renowned play; The Gods Are not to blame (1968). He was born of a Yoruba father, Samuel Gladstone Enitan Rotimi and his mother, Dorcas Oruene was from the Nembe main town of Ogbolomabiri. The Nembe kingdom has an age-long matrilineal (inheritance along mother’s line) society, a child or children acquired in any relationship (either marriage or otherwise)   even if they bear the man’s name belong to the woman and her family. The system is no more. On Saturday, twenty-eight December, two thousand and thirteen, Edmund M. Daukoru, ex -Petroleum Minister to President Olusegun Obasanjo government, now Amanyanabo(king) of Nembe Kingdom (Mingi Xii) proclaimed it abolished. The system was established before 1800 AD. In nineteen seventy-seven, Akassa Youmi, his famous historical play was published. The play is about the Nembe-British War commonly called “the Akassa War”. The war over control of trade route between Nembe chiefs and its people (Ola Rotimi’s  people) and British commercial interest, many Nembe people were killed, while Britain lost over hundred people, some were buried in Twon-Brass. Youmi in the Nembe dialect means, the war. Ola Rotimi in his Akassa Youmi presents an aspect of the tragedy in a dramatic form.

 

We spent about four hours dropping off several passengers and their luggage at the various Nembe communities and fishing camps. Around ten minutes after seven a.m., we sailed into Twon- Brass through the Brass River. The river, that sometimes of the day could be mad and its forceful waves block humans traveling in boats on its table, was calm. Before we anchored at Twon -Brass, I viewed Twon -Kubu burial ground from my binoculars on my left. Twon- Kubu is in Twon -Brass, headquarters of Brass L.G.A. There(Twon-Kabu) persons accused of being witches, lunatics or those who died the wrong way like plane crash and others are buried in this area. Twon-Kubu is on the verge of the town. There were spots of tall forest trees around the area

.

Twon- Kubu is different from Ada-Ama cemetery located near Old Bank Road in the heart of Twon- Brass town. At Ada-Ama “good people” are buried with fanfare.” “Who are the bad people and who are the good people?” I inquired myself. I also saw Imbikiri, was a European settlement where palm kernels were sold. Imbi means palm karnel, whileKiri means settlement, area or  ground  A resident of Twon Brass once cracked a joke with me that if one does not see fish to buy in Imbikiri, one cannot  get fish anywhere in the world. Imbikiri is a settlement predominantly occupied by local and migrant fishermen and women and fish traders from other parts of Nigeria. The camp is crucial to the local economy of the people. The Nembe people consider it a serious taboo to kill or eat shark, the weird predatory fish. The fisher folks complained of the problems they have on daily basis when they catch shark and attempt to smuggle it into the town. The people also forbid killing or eating of python, the huge snake found in their mass in the Brass River. Twon -Brass, the old town of the Nembe people, from pre-colonial to present-day has witnessed one form of violent raid or another. At the river, I saw three long vessels as long as our wood boat, racing through in different directions. It looked like vessels with illicit crude oil.

When I got to Twon- Brass, I had wanted to sail out again. Not on the huge wooden boat, but in a speedboat to the Akassa area at the mouth of the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. I was advised against travelling there at the time, because of the dangerous activities of sea robbers and illegal crude oil cartels and dealers. I spent the night (Saturday) at the Samfagha Hotels near the Agip Gate. The hotel was clean and a bit spacious. I paid three thousand naira (about eighteen dollars) for the night. There was uninterrupted power supply from the nearby Agip gas turbine. The entire community also benefit from the power too. If such hotel were to be in Port Harcourt or elsewhere the room rate would have been higher. Opposite the  hotel was a massive hotel with half-naked sex workers from all over the country and even some African countries like Cameroon , Cotonou and others who had come to stay there to do their trade.

Twon- Brass is the native home of Ernest Sissei- Ikoli (1893-1960), one of the fathers of modern journalism and nationalism. Mokwugo Okoye (1926-1998), the foremost pro-independence activist, philosopher and writer, praised Ikoli and others in page 72 of his book, Storms on the Niger. The book was first published by the Eastern Nigeria Printing Corporation in Enugu in nineteen sixty-four. Okoye described Ernest Sissei -Ikoli of The Daily Times, Thomas Horatio Jackson of The Lagos Weekly Record, W. Couldson Labour of The Dawn and Herbert Macaulay of The Lagos Daily Newspapers as “…real masters of their craft and ornaments to the Nigerian intelligence. With their colleagues they brought news of the outside world to the rising middle class and focused attention on more glaring problems of national development.” During the trip, I met Twon- Brass chiefs who disparaged the great Ikoli as a failure who never did anything for his Nembe or Ijaw people. I tried to defend Ikoli, but one of them was angry with me for doing that. Society has slipped into absurdity where success and achievements are measured on the basis of fraudulent money and wealth one parades. Ikoli remains largely unsung. Some years ago, the Rivers State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) erected a monument of Ikoli, holding a pen in front of its secretariat. The NUJ’s secretariat which is located along Moscow Road in the heart of Port Harcourt city is now in ruins and Ikoli’s monument is falling apart as well.

 

Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, the former military administrator of old Rivers State is said to be a Nembe man with some roots in Twon- Brass. Diete-Spiff is the Amayanabo(king) of Brass, a sub-kingdom within the Brass LGA. Like other sub-kingdoms within the Brass LGA -Okpoama, Odioma and Akassa, they have their Amayanabos(kings) too. Twon- Brass is also the home of Clifford T.I. Ordu – Cameroon, the eminent Professor of soil microbiology, born on third July, nineteen thirty-seven and died on twenty-five October, two thousand and thirteen which is a great loss to the world scientist’ community.

Charles Alfred, a young, bright scholar of peace, war and the conflict economies, was born Twon-Brass some thirty-nine years ago. He is a lecturer of the Political Science Department at the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State located in North-Eastern part of Nigeria. The University where Charles teaches is located in the Wukari LGA (Jukunland) where T.Y. Danjuma, the ex-military general and billionaire oil tycoon comes from. The university is one of the new nine universities established by the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan government. Charles is the author of the book, A Comprehensive History of Twon-Brass, Vol 1, 2 and 3

 

Twon-Brass is a lovely town. But damaging environmental activities of the oil companies and others in the Brass River and its environs has aggravated the rising surge level which threatens to swallow the beautiful Ijaw town by the sea.  I bade goodbye to Twon- Brass around seven a.m. on Sunday, twenty-nine December, two thousand and thirteen. Not with the huge local ferry boat again, but with the small “flying” boat (speed boat). My journey from Twon -Brass was just three and half hours.

I decided to travel with the poor locals- traders, fishermen and women, and with those who don’t have the money to pay for the speed boat to tell their stories. In the early sixties, travelling through the creeks from the Port Harcourt harbour to Twon- Brass in the large dug-out canoes would take three days. The boats were pulled manually (with paddles). The breakthrough in science and technology saw to better marine engines and equipment that reduced the stress of a longer journey. The various creeks used to be small, but successive governments in then Port Harcourt (then seat of power of the old Rivers State) had dredged the creeks to make them more accessible; for travels especially.

 

Twon -Brass! I shall come to you again, not on the snail- pace moving wooden boat, but on the flying boat (speed boat) to attend Professor Ordu-Cameroon’s funeral coming up sometime in March, this year.

 

Concluded

 

Naagbanton lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital

Rivers State Crisis: APC To Block Legislative Proposals, Including 2014 Budget, In National Assembly.


By SaharaReporters, New York

In response to the situation in Rivers State and other constitutional breaches by the Presidency, the All Progressives Congress (APC) today directed its members in the National Assembly to block all legislative proposals, including the 2014 Budget and confirmation of all nominees to military and civilian positions to public office, until the rule of law and constitutionalism is restored.
The party also decided that if acts of impunity and lawlessness continue in the State and the Police persist in being an enforcement arm of the PDP to the detriment of its members, it would ask its teeming members all over the country and especially in Rivers to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their lives and property.

The unprecedented decisions arose at the 8th regular meeting of the APC Interim National Executive Committee.

According to a statement by the party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the event was attended by top party leaders, including General Muhammadu Buhari Rtd, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, as well as the Governors of Rivers, Lagos, Edo, Nasarawa, Kwara, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Ekiti and Ogun States.  Also present were the Deputy Governors of Oyo, Imo, Kano and Zamfara States, members of the Interim NEC, as well as the leadership of the party in the National Assembly.  The meeting was chaired by the Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.

Mohammed said the NEC commended the courage, maturity and political sagacity of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in the face of serial unprovoked and unwarranted assaults on his person, his constitutional rights and those of the Government and People of Rivers State.

“The conduct of Governor Amaechi represents our Party’s maturity and compliance with the rule of law in response to escalating impunity,” he said.  “The APC is very proud of him.”

It noted that any cursory observer of events in the state since February 2013 would be left in no doubt as to the culture of lawlessness and impunity being promoted and supported by the Presidency, and executed by the State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, who has become the de facto military Governor of Rivers State and sole administrator of the PDP in the State.

He cited instances of the brazen lawlessness and violations of the Constitution in the state to include the forceful dispersal of 13,201 newly recruited teachers in the Port Harcourt Stadium using tear gas; blockading the entrance to the Government House in Port Harcourt and forcing the State Governor to use another entrance; preventing an aircraft chartered by the State Governor from taking off, alleging that the Governor was trying to smuggle out a legislator wanted by the Police, for which no apology was offered to the Governor; the disruption of a peaceful rally during which Senator Magnus Abe was shot with intent to kill; the several disruptions of Save Rivers Group rallies, and the unlawful detention of anybody perceived to be a sympathizer of Governor Rotimi Amaechi, while allowing pro-Jonathan and Anti-Amaechi groups to organize rallies unmolested.

APC’s new decisions could start to have an immediate impact in the country in view of the recent change in the dynamics of the legislature, where power now tilts in its favour.  In the House of Representatives, the numbers are now on the side of the APC following the defection of many members from the PeoplesDemocratic Party, while several members are also set to defect in the Senate.

Three days ago, nearly half of the Senate membership wrote a letter to their leadership warning against underground efforts to declare vacant the seats of those members who choose to join other political parties.

In the past, members who defected to the PDP were warmly welcomed and treated as heroes, but they did not have their seats declared vacant as the PDP is now considering doing.  The matter is in court.

Jonathan’s govt worse than Abacha’s, says Amaechi.


 

Gov-Amaechi2-

Guns boomed. Smoke filled the air. People were running and screaming. Vehicles were vandalised.

That was the scene yesterday as militants disrupted a Save Rivers Movement (SRM) rally in Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoni and the seat of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG) George Feyii, an Ogoni; Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha and many allies of Governor Rotimi Amaechi were caught up in the violence. Their vehicles were riddled with bullets.

The governor, alarmed at the scale of the violence, described President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as worse than the late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime.

 

Two persons were feared shot dead by the rampaging militants, who started shooting from 4 am at the venue of the SRM rally — the All Saints’ Anglican Church, Bori, not far from the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori-Ogoni.

The militants’ attack came exactly one week after the SRM’s rally billed for the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, Port Harcourt was disrupted by the police, with the representative of the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District, Magnus Abe, shot in the chest. He is still recuperating in a London hospital.

Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), later in an interview at the Government House, Port Harcourt, after inspecting the shot and vandalised vehicles at 4:45 pm, also accused the Federal Government of desperation over the 2015 elections, adding that Jonathan wants to win at all costs, even if people die.

Amaechi insisted that the disrupted Bori rally must be repeated on Saturday and he promised to attend.

Some commissioners, Amaechi’s allies, top government officials, leaders and supporters of the SRM ran into the bush to prevent being shot by the rampaging militants. Bori people and students scampered to safety.

The police, however, protected the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) rally at Degema, the headquarters of Degema Local Government Area.

The Rivers PDP, through its spokesman, Pastor Jerry Needam, accused the main opposition All progressives Congress (APC) of resorting to violence.

Police spokesman Ahmad Muhammad claimed in a telephone interview that the pro-Amaechi group did not apply for police protection while GDI leaders applied for police protection. Education Minister Nyesom Wike is the grand patron of the GDI.

The Coordinator of the SRM, Igo Aguma, who is a former member of the House of Representatives and the group’s lawyer, Ken Atsuwete, however , described Muhammad as a liar, insisting that the SRM notified the police of the Bori rally and applied for protection.

The SRM rally was fixed for 2 pm. Canopies, chairs and had been arranged. The podium was erected. All were by the militants, who turned the venue into a theatre of war.

Channels Television was billed to transmit the rally live, but its Mercedes Benz Outside Broadcasting (OB) van (Lagos FST 928 BX) and a Toyota Hiace bus, with registration number: Lagos: AGL 250 AP, were vandalized. The organisation lost a camera, with the crew members, who were setting up their equipments losing valuable items to the attackers.

Some of the vandalised and shot vehicles are: Toyota Fortuner, with registration number: Rivers KRK 396 BX and two Toyota Landcruiser V8, with registration numbers: Rivers ES 353 PHC and Lagos AAA 448 AA.

Other shot and vandalised vehicles are Lexus LX 570, with registration number: Rivers KNM 815 AA, Brilliance salon car, with Abuja ABC 830 AL as registration number, Toyota Tundra: Abuja ABJ 587 AE and Chevrolet Avalanche: Lagos EH 193 LSR.

When our reporter got to Bori at 1:58 pm, for the 2 pm rally by SRM, some fierce-looking policemen barricaded Birabi Memorial Grammar School, the main road from the East-West Road, that leads to Kono Waterside.

Our reporter was directed to an alternative road towards Kaani-Ogoni, to link the junction of Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori, with another set of policemen barricading the road, making it difficult to get to the nearby venue of the rally (All Saints’ Anglican Church).

One of the policemen said the venue had been sealed off. Nobody was to be allowed to move beyond that point, he said.

It was gathered through some of the Channels television crew members, who would not want their names in print, that the militants came to the venue of the rally thrice. The first set came with machetes around 7 am and upturned the chairs, tables, canopies and stage.

The second group of militants, with masks, who scaled the fence, invaded the venue at 10 am with guns and were shooting sporadically, to scare people from attending the rally. The more daring third set of militants, who were also masked, were shooting directly at people and vehicles.

Amaechi said: “When they say President Obasanjo (Olusegun) is lying about snipers and 1000 names, they say Nigeria Police have no rubber bullets. From where did the rubber bullets come? Is it one of the snipers that shot at Magnus (Abe)? Could it be that they were aiming it at me? For the first time, I will want to expose myself. I will be there (Bori’s rally). I will be there on Saturday; let them come and shoot.

“There is serious danger for democracy. What you are seeing here (in Rivers State) is close to what Abacha was doing. This is an Abacha government. Tell me the difference. Lives were being lost, people were being shot. Journalists were being arrested. This is worse, because even governors were not arrested under Abacha, but as a governor, hmmnn!

“Officers of the Rivers State Police Command met at the Police Officers’ Mess and Mbu declared war against the Rivers State Government and Rivers people. That he is determined to ensure that they are not protected and he warned them (policemen) in advance not to come to protect anybody at the rally.

“The implication of that is that he (Mbu) knew there was going to be an attack and he must have been part of the process of the attack. If not, when the people started shooting, what did the police do.

“It shows how desperate the Federal Government is in these 2015 elections. As governor of Rivers State, if we hear gunshots by 4 am, we will give protection from that 4 am. We will go to look for those who are shooting from 4 am. Up to 6 am. They attacked press men and the Commissioner of Police did not react. He did not respond.

“They attacked citizens. I learnt two persons are lying critically ill in the hospital in Bori, whom I have to visit in Bori. I have told them to transfer them to Port Harcourt so that we make sure they do not die.

“They want to win presidential and governorship elections at the cost of human lives. They do not care. One responsibility government has and that is the oath of office we take, is to protect lives and property. There is no oath of office that says I must provide water or light.

“As the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan holds the Rivers people the responsibility of protecting their lives and their lives are not being protected, because he sent a Police Commissioner, through the wife (Dame Patience Jonathan), who is here (in Rivers State) to pursue an election that is one year away. It is ridiculous.

“There is a difference between President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the leader of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party). The reason for electing him (President Jonathan) is to protect me. He wants to win Rivers State at all costs, even if all the human beings die.”

The NGF chairman said the rampaging militants would have killed the journalists, who covered the rally, but they managed to escape the gunshots.

Amaechi said: “Is President (Jonathan) saying he has lost control of Mbu? He cannot remove Mbu. He cannot tell Mbu what to do or is it that Mr. President has directed Mbu to kill me and kill others?

“Who do you turn to? When the people you ought to turn to (policemen) are the people shooting you. Just one week ago, Senator Magnus Abe was shot by the police and he is in a hospital (in London). He is not in a Nigerian hospital, that they will say they went and arrange. He is in a hospital with heart condition, caused by Mbu and the President (Jonathan) is quiet.

“You will ask yourself, what is going on? Don’t I have opponents? Am I not able to provide for them, the services I ought to provide for them? Let the President take charge. I do not know of alternative security arrangement, but I will be there on Saturday (rescheduled SRM’s rally at Bori). I am going there for a rally on Saturday.

“Mbu is pretending to be relating well with me or has cordial relationship with me. From the first day Mbu stepped into this place (Rivers State), he arrested the orderly of the SSG (George Feyii) and detained him. From the Port Harcourt International Airport, as he arrived. He had not got into town. Is that cordial relationship?

“Mbu met with me and I told him that the rumour all over town was that he was posted to Rivers State by the wife of the President (DamePatience) to come and protect her interest and her political ambition. He said ‘no’, that he was in Rivers State to work with me and I said we would see. From the day Mbu stepped into Rivers State, he has neither rested nor slept.

“SRM not only applied for police protection. They applied; even the last one, but the police commissioner (Mbu) refused to grant the permission, that he is now ready for war. Not only did they apply, but the law does not say that they must apply. The law does not give the Commissioner of Police the power to deny them. It gives the power to the governor.

“Commissioner of Police does not even have the power to approve. The governor must approve, except the governor delegates that function to the Commissioner of Police. When the Commissioner of Police denies you that approval, you have the right to appeal to the governor. Which law is Mbu talking about? I am not aware that there is any request by the GDI before the governor that they want to hold a rally. If they are going by the law. Even at that, the law has been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

“There is a police command in Bori. If they were not aware there was a rally, at least they heard sounds of gun, from 4 am, to the risk of your lives. Suppose you had died, what will Mbu say? We speak because we are involved. Compare what is going on now with what was happening under Abacha’s regime.”

The governor admonished Rivers people and his teeming supporters to remain calm and law abiding, in the face of intimidation and lawlessness, adding that the truth would prevail.

The chief of staff said he heard that policemen escorted the militants to smash the SRM rally. The police, he said, arrested nobody, in spite of the presence of the Area Command and a police division in the area, as well as the base of MOPOL 56 at nearby Saakpenwa-Ogoni.

Okocha said: “We are not deterred. We are a lot more emboldened. As citizens of Nigeria, we have freedom of assembly. We have seen the new tendency in Rivers State. January 12 was attack by police. Today (yesterday) is attack by militants.

“SRM members do not carry arms. With what we have seen now, we need to take precautionary measures. The GDI rally at Degema is going on with full police protection. Police have taken sides and not being professional.”

The chief of staff also wondered that in spite of writing to the police to inform them of the Bori rally, no policeman moved near the venue, despite the heavy shooting from the militants.

The SSG, who was also at Bori, described the incident as “a show of shame”.

The Coordinator of the SRM, Igo Aguma, said that he called Mbu four times to inform him of the shooting, but the police chief did not answer the calls. The text message he sent Mbu at 11:17 am had not been replied as at press time.

The Rivers PDP also raised the alarm over the increasing spate of violence in the state, which it alleged was masterminded by the Amaechi administration, SRM and APC to continue to create a state of insecurity, to justify their call for the removal of the commissioner of police.

PDP said: “The crisis, which left two Ogoni youths shot and their conditions are very critical and unstable in a private clinic in Port Harcourt, according to reports, followed a local resistance of the APC, Rotimi Amaechi and the Save Rivers Movement by the Ogoni people today (yesterday) in Bori.

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