Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
TENSION has persisted in Oyigbo the Local Government Area in Rivers State, which came under attacks by suspected members of the disbanded Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Traditional Chiefs in the council area at the weekend expressed fears that the fleeing IPOB members could regroup and return to the area.
They recalled how members of the proscribed group hijacked the EndSARS protest killing six soldiers, four policemen and destroying all police stations and a court among other public facilities in the area.
The community leaders urged the Defence Headquarters not to withdraw soldiers deployed to restore peace in Oyigbo to prevent IPOB members from regrouping.
The chiefs under the aegis of Ogbakor Oyigbo, also urged persons, who deserted Oyigbo to return as normalcy had been restored.
High Chief Louis Okorie (Eze Ukwu III) said they were not interested in the call by some persons to withdraw the troops.
He expressed concern that if soldiers were withdrawn from Oyigbo, IPOB anarchists would unleash violence in the area.
He said: “The Ogbakor Oyigbo General held a meeting here and said they will not allow the removal of soldiers from Oyigbo.
“On 12th of November, 2020 we met with the Local Government Chairman, Gerald Aforji, informing him of our plight. We don’t want the Army to be withdrawn for the benefit of Oyigbo people.
“We need to be careful of the remnants of IPOB terrorists. We thank Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for imposing the curfew which has calmed down the situation in Oyigbo.”
Also, High Chief Lisbery Onyegorom, stated that indigenes of Oyigbo were still in shock following the wanton destruction unleashed on their community by members of the outlawed IPOB.
He said: “We were surprised by the level of destruction by the IPOB. We are Rivers State and Niger Delta people. Our people are not members of IPOB. I am not aware of any Oyigbo indigene who is a member. We don’t allow that.
“Now, that the IPOB members have killed some soldiers, all of them have run away. The Army is investigating and fishing them out. Most of the IPOB members arrested have given vital information about the remnants.
“We are in support of the Governor’s ban on IPOB activities across Rivers State and hoisting of IPOB flag.”
Onyegorom frowned at the allegation of extrajudicial killings levelled against the Army by some persons playing petty politics with the Oyigbo issue.
“We are solidly behind our Governor’s effort to maintain peace in Oyigbo. The Governor did not say, go, and kill people. The Army came on a rescue mission. That’s what they came for.
“It is the deployment of the Army that gives us comfort to remain here. For now, we hear of the threat to protest again. The army is going nowhere. Let the Army stay until we are sure of peace in Oyigbo.”
“Those who ran away should come back. The Army is not chasing anybody. The army is not killing any person. Let the Army stay, until we are sure peace has returned.”
On his part, the Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Prince Gerald Oforji said most of the negative reports were unfounded.
“Today, I am very happy for the visit by the Ovation family to assess the wanton destruction carried out on 20 October by the IPOB. Today, they have come to assess and see things for themselves based on lopsided information they have been getting concerning Oyigbo.
“I believe with what they have seen today, the world can confirm that most of those negative information posted against Oyigbo, against Rivers State, are unfounded.”