Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Nigerian Army personnel from 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria, have raided the home of an ex-militant leader, Solomon Ndigbara, alias Osama Bin Laden, in Bua-Yeghe Community in Gokana local Government Area in Rivers State.
The raid was carried out by soldiers in ten military trucks on Sunday.
A youth leader in the community, Mr Letom Kukang, alleged that the action of the military men was never a raid but a political witch-hunt of a community peace maker and a well known supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.
Mr Letom alleged that the home of Ndigbara was ransacked, scattered and two of his wives were whisked away alongside his brothers.
At the time of this report the two wives of the ex-militant had been released while the two brothers of the ex-militant were still being held.
The raids on the houses of ex-militants have pitched the two prominent political parties of All Progressive Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against each other.
Mr Sydney Tambari, the chairman of Khana Local Government Area, said that the soldiers shot sporadically and damaged Ndigbara’s property.
Tambari accused leaders of the APC in Ogoni of being behind the military invasion of Gokana.
He claimed: “We received the shocking news on (Sunday) that the military had besieged this premises. I don’t know which court, where Solomon Ndigbara has been tried and found to be guilty of whichever offence for him to deserve this kind of onslaught. I want to make it clear that this onslaught is on the entire youths of Ogoni,” Tambari added.
In his reaction, the Chairman of Gokana local government area, Austin Sor, described the operation as an onslaught, shocking and unwarranted.
“It is pathetic and a war declared on Chief Solomon Ndigbara and the people of Bua-Yeghe. To me, this is a political war.
“At about 4pm, I was in the community field watching a final match when some of my community boys came to call me and asked if I am aware that Army have taken over the community.
“When I got there, actually, what I saw were heavily armed soldiers with 10 vans in the compound of Solomon Ndigbara. An attempt to get their attention to know who sent them was seriously resisted. Even the paramount ruler could not access them,” Sor said.
However, the press statement from 2 Brigade Nigerian Army signed by Captain Eli Lazarus, Assistant Director Army Public Relations, explained that “relying on credible intelligence the Army conducted a raid operation on Sunday 10 January 2016 on the residence of Mr Solo also known as ” General Solo” in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.”
The statement further said “Mr Solo is suspected of gun running and kidnapping activities”.
The Brigade enjoined all law abiding citizens in the area to go about their lawful activities as the military will continue to work assiduously to ensure the protection of lives and property of all.
The Army had in the previous week raided the home of Sonoma Jackrich an ex-militant leader who also the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, APC, has said that its attention has been drawn to reports in the media by some persons especially of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] attributing raids by security agencies on a location in Yeghe, Gokana LGA and other security dark spots in the State to the APC.
“This trend of narrative being dishonestly foisted on the people through the media by elements of the PDP is most uncharitable, manifestly dishonest and flies in the face of logical reasoning,” the APC said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr Chris Finebone.
The APC noted that “is important to remind everyone that the APC, as a political party, has no mandate to embark on security duties either on its own or in conjunction with security agencies under any circumstances whatsoever. The APC restricts itself to its function of seeking political power through legitimate political process.”
The APC urged all and sundry, especially members of the PDP in Rivers State to resist the lure of resorting to the convenient option of blaming its misfortunes on the APC.
Continuing, the APC said, “we expect the PDP to accept the fact that its rank is populated by known criminals and people with notorious history of criminality especially those appointed as Local Government Caretaker Chairmen and it would not be surprising if security reports point to them every now and then. The PDP is very much aware of this and that is why Governor Nyesom Wike has never presented any of his nominees to security agencies for security screening.”
The APC advised the PDP in Rivers State to look inwards and blame itself for the present kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, killings and general insecurity it has foist on the people of the state.