Residents of communities in Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers State now live in fear as the military intensified its efforts to apprehend suspected members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who allegedly killed policemen and soldiers during the #EndSARS protest in the area. Suspected members of the outlawed IPOB allegedly killed six soldiers, according to the Nigerian Army and set four policemen ablaze, just as they burnt down security outposts on Wednesday, October 21.
They were also linked to the burning of more than 50 private and public vehicles, including an Armored Personnel Carrier and a State High Court building among others. A declaration of curfew in the council area and the resolve of security forces to fish out the perpetrators of the violence have forced some residents of the araea to flee to neighbouring communities.
According to a reliable source some of the communities affected by the military‘s onslaught in Oyigbo in the aftermath of the deadly protest are Kom Kom, Izuoma, Mbano Camp, and Obeama.
The source added that the military in the cause of raiding some of these areas have recovered some of the items looted during the protest, including firearms belonging to security operatives. The military has also embarked on aerial survey with Air force jets flying around communities in the area.
The ongoing military operation, however, has caused the scarcity of commodities as farmers who throng the Obigbo daily market to sell their produce have found it extremely difficult to transport them there. But the Public Relations Officer for 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Charles Ekeocha has noted that the ongoing operation was not designed to inconvenience residents of Oyigbo.
“We are there to carry out operation to recover weapons carted away from our soldiers who were killed so that the criminals will not use the guns to kill innocent citizens in Rivers and outside the state. We carrying out our search professionally”, said Ekeocha.
But some residents have complained of the manner in which soldiers stormed their houses and kick doors open to conduct searches “even in houses that only women and children live in.” Recall that the Rivers State Police Command arraigned 21 IPOB members at a Magistrates Court in Port Harcourt in connection with the killings and destruction of properties during the EndSARS protest.
Also, Governor Nyesom Wike, who signed an Executive Order prohibiting the activities of IPOB in the state, has said that the Biafran secessionist capitalise on the nearness of Oyigbo to Abia State to invade the community and unleash violence. The governor has also vowed that IPOB will never be allowed to exist within Rivers, stressing however, that law abiding Igbos and other nationalities shall continue to live and do business in the State unmolested.