In Ogba/ Ndoni/Egbema Local Government Area of Rivers State, killing of human beings means nothing to a group of unknown persons that have made it their hobby. At least, Mrs. Patience Adube, the wife of one of the victims of the ongoing gruesome killings in the area called by the acronym ONELGA, attested to this fact after her husband and children were massacred in a night raid by heavily armed hoodlums.
Each time the blood-thirsty group appear in the area, residents flee into the bush or stay indoors and pray that their houses are not marked for attack.
One of the residents, who said he was shell-shocked on the last raid carried out by the night marauders, told our correspondent that in ONELGA, the killings had been tagged ‘Point and Kill’. This is ordinarily a term used to describe the killing of fresh fish for immediate consumption. But the people of the area, especially those from Omoku, a beautiful town in ONELGA, use this as code words for the brazen and barefaced attack on residents of the place.
If the attack on residents in September 2015 by the suspected cultists did not raise much concern, that of February 13, 2016 was most worrisome. Before then, the area has had a history of unprovoked mass murder with no solution in sight.
Houses located in Usoniri Quarters, Sabo Road and Obakata Quarters were among those attacked by the blood-thirsty, men said to be cultists. In all, fifteen people were killed across nine houses were in the latest attack.
A resident of the community, Pa Benedict Ajie, who is a neighbour to two young men who were shot at close range on Ndoni Street, Omoku, narrated how a group of armed men entered the house and carried out the killing.
Pa Ajie, who is in his 80s, said the victims were his distant relations.
“They (gunmen) were many; they came around 9pm and when we saw them, we ran inside the house. The truth is that we don’t know where they came from. We were hiding inside when we heard the sound of gunshots and by the time everything had settled, we came out and saw the corpses of the two men,” the octogenarian said.
Pa Ajie explained that though the Divisional Police Officer in the area visited the crime scene at about 10am the following day, it was necessary for security agents to turn their searchlight to ONELGA in order to put an end to the wave of cold-blooded murder of indigenes and residents of the area. He added that the two men killed by their assailants had no link to cultism and were not members of any political party.
The attack on one of the houses on Elder Samuel Osere Street in Omoku was equally horrifying as four young persons, including an SS 3 student identified as Chisom, were shot. He (Chisom) was said to be preparing to take his school certificate examination when he was shot several times in the head. Strangely, two of the victims shot on the street were beheaded, while their heads were taken away.
A source, who preferred not to be mentioned for the fear of being attacked in future said they have been living in fear since the incident, adding that the sight of headless bodies and blood splattered everywhere inside the building will send cold shivers into the spine of even the strongest among men. “The place is closed now because it is a crime scene and other tenants have deserted the building,” the source added.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the police have been patrolling the street and other places close to it with a view to forestalling a recurrence. Many have expressed fear that most of the killers were still lurking around Omoku Town for another opportunity to strike again.
Few metres away is Umuimegi Street, where another group of assailants attacked house no. 19. The killings were carried out almost at the same time. Residents recalled seeing dozens of assailants move in and shooting their targets without hesitation.
Elemchukwu Uge, a 31-year-old butcher was shot at close range inside his room. Two others, who were tenants in the house, including a contract employee of an oil company were also mowed down by the assailants’ bullets.
Narrating how his son was killed by the invaders, Mr. Martin Uge, told Saturday PUNCH, “We were inside the house around 9pm when some unknown gunmen forcefully entered the yard. They checked and searched everywhere. Unfortunately, they killed my 31-year-old son, Elemchukwu, in his room.
“I could not look at their faces because of fear. Two other persons, Anthony Okara, a driver with Agip and Emeka John from Erema, were killed that day; they were my tenants. One of them, a native of Erima, came to rent one of the rooms in my house because of the crisis in Erima. He came here just in December 2015. But they still came to my house and killed him.
“The gunmen only took away my phone. Personally, I am not suspecting anybody because I don’t have a case with anybody.”
On another street close by, Umuenyika, an aged woman, Madam Blessing Izeh, has been inconsolable since two of her children were forced outside their house and shot several times in her presence. The bodies of the men were said to have been riddled with bullets. Their mother insisted that her children, Okey Izeh (37) and Eze Izeh (25), had nothing to do with cultism or politics before they were killed.
“My children were not cultists; they were not politicians. They (gunmen) came and pushed them out of the house and killed them in front of everyone. They did not belong to any political party and had never been involved in any crime. Why have they denied me the joy of reaping the fruits of my labour?” Madam Izeh queried.
However, sympathisers have continued to troop into the compound of the Izehs, even as the people of the area wondered why a group of men would enter a community and embark on serial murder without any form of provocation.
Not done with their killing spree, the killers marched to No.13 Umuchikere Street and unleashed another round of mayhem, killing the breadwinner of the house, Mr. EmekaAhiakwo. Again, this victim was beheaded and his head taken away by his assailants. Members of the family were all with swollen eyes after wailing for over three days.
Wife of the victim, Mrs. Helen Ahiakwo, explained that the incident happened at about 5pm, adding that she raced down to her home immediately she got a call that her husband was in a serious danger. According to her, she met her husband’s bullet ridden body without the head. Ahiakwo was buried almost immediately in front of his house.
One of the residents of the area attributed the killings to the activities of some unscrupulous politicians, who armed the youths for election and could not retrieve the guns from them.
“These politicians can do anything to win elections and the killings are just to instil fear in the people so that the politicians, who sponsor these ‘boys’ can always have their way,” the resident said.
Members of the community expressed shock that the recurrent massacre in the community has yet to attract the attention of the Federal Government.
Reacting, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing of the February 13 killings.
Mohammad said security operatives stormed the community after getting reports about the massacre and arrested the suspects identified asChimezieOrdu and Ikwudili Wordu.
Mohammad, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH in a telephone interview, explained that the duo are currently undergoing interrogation at the State Criminal Investigation Department.
He pointed out that security agencies are on the trail of the remaining killers
“We are not resting on our oars. We are going to apprehend them and make them face the wrath of the law,” Mohammad said.
But the two major political parties have been trading blames over the ugly incident. The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress decried the “massive killing” of its members especially in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area. State Chairman of the party, Dr. Davies Ikanya, alleged that the Nigeria Police did not provide security for the people of the area. The APC chairman specifically said that suspected members of a cult group known as Icelanders were behind the invasion of Omoku and surrounding communities.
“They picked on selected houses of APC members and murdered some of the occupants. At least, 26 people were shot dead, with some of them beheaded. The killings began early evening and lasted till 10 pm,” he stated, adding that police failed to respond to calls for help.
He expressed the need for the immediate sack of leaders of any security agency that fails to rise to the challenge of protecting peoples’ lives and property.
He said it was wrong for the police to have blamed the killings on a fight between two rival cult groups, just as he wondered how the security agency arrived at such a conclusion. He recalled that the killings took place for over five hours on different streets in Omoku without any intervention in sight.
But the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, which has also expressed shock about the killings said the incident was being politicised by the APC in the state.
The State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Felix Obuah explained that he would rather show concern for the acts of lawlessness by hoodlums in some parts of the state and sympathised with the families of victims.
Obuah, who spoke though his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Jerry Needam, disagreed with the state APC chairman for casting aspersion on the PDP and security agencies and blaming them (security agencies) for not doing the needful.
“More worrisome is the incitement being induced by the APC in the state through Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, who has formed the habit of laying claim to ownership and party membership of victim(s) of any dastardly act anywhere in the state just to create disaffection between the ruling party and the rest of the people,” he said.
He called on the police to invite the state APC chairman for interrogation for admitting to be in possession of the video clips of the killings, adding that being in possession of such item was an indication that Ikanya was privy to the killings.
“We also enjoin our security agencies to intensify their efforts in arresting insecurity in the state, arrest and prosecute anybody convinced to have been directly or indirectly involved, encouraged, abetted or behind the killings,” the state PDP chairman added.
A human rights activist, Mr. John Abiye, urged security agents to work hard and ensure that the ugly incident of Friday 12, 2016 in ONELGA would be the end to the continued mass murder in the area.
“Truth be told, no society will accept this type of killings that will last for several hour without any intervention. With my findings, those killed were innocent people, whose homes were invaded randomly without any reason. We must also begin to educate our youths to shun any act that can maim or deprive anybody his right to life,” Abiye added.
culled from punchng.com