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Bayelsa monarch: How militants linked to soldiers’ killing chased me out of my kingdom

Paramount Ruler of Igbomotoru Communities in Bayelsa State, HRH Ayibaikie Aseimighen Ofongo, has narrated how the militant gang currently on the run over the killing…

Paramount Ruler of Igbomotoru Communities in Bayelsa State, HRH Ayibaikie Aseimighen Ofongo, has narrated how the militant gang currently on the run over the killing of soldiers in Delta State, forced him out of his community.

Addressing reporters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa capital, the monarch said the over the years, the gang, which operated unchallenged, perpetrated criminality in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa.

He said after he was banished from the community three years ago, the militant leader took control until the killing of soldiers at Okuama.

Ofongo, a retired army officer, said having served in the armed forces, he could not have kept quiet while militants perpetrated criminality in his domain.

He also commended the military operations in Igbomotoru Communities, saying so far, troops have only gone after the fleeing militant leader and his boys.

He said: “My Community, Igbomotoru, for some time now, have had some internal problems; there is a group that went and brought militants to the community to dissolve the ruling class, and at the same time leading to vandalizing national assets of oil companies in our area, which I opposed. I said if we had any problem with the oil companies, we should apply the normal system of communication so that they can look at those issues, but this advice did not go through with the group.

“And since that time, there have been problems, based on that differences we had. For almost three years now, I have not been allowed to visit my own community. My life was threatened; I had to escape from the community. I only went to the community when I heard about the death of my relations.

“From where I’m hiding, I got telephone calls from both home and from some other relations and friends on what happened at Igbomotoru; what I was told was that military men came into the community, particularly on Igbomotoru ll, Igbomotoru is on both sides of River Sangana. So, when I had this issue, I enquired from sources. I was told there was an Army invasion of the community, I was told a militant leader from Igbomotoru by name Endurance Amagbain went to Delta and some military officers who were there to make peace were shot dead, that was why military invaded our community last Sunday.

“The Army troops that came, they know where the person they wanted was and they went there, and some miscreants who are members of the militant gang came out and wanted to know what was happening in their usual militant way,  and there was opening of fire from the Army, and some of them were killed. So, it was only members of the militant gang that were killed, not the natives.

“I have previously written several petitions to both the presidency, the state government and the security agencies about the activities of this militant gang, and we attended meetings with the governor, we also had time with the oil companies representatives, because when they started, they started with the oil companies and then rolled back to me, claiming I had been deposed and all that, so all those activities were reported to the government, and so many meetings were held by the government and oil companies to resolve that, but the people continued to do what they thought was good for them, until we reached this state. It was my opposition to this militant group that made them force me out of the community.

“As a Paramount Ruler and somebody who has served in the Nigerian Army and retired, I always report any act of lawlessness to the authorities, if not, that means I am involved. Army operation at Igbomotoru Community is just after the fleeing militant gang at Igbomotoru ll, where their leader resides and commit all these crime. In fact, they have not crossed to Igbomotoru 1, but because of fear, people have deserted the entire community.”

Military has done well

“You see the military has done well, what happened to the military, even during my time as a soldier, you cannot go and tempt the lion and you will think he will sit down and begin to look at you, the militant gang went to Delta to kill army personnel and the army came to kill them,  they didn’t move from house to house in Igbomotoru to kill everybody.

“I am not against government taking any action in respect to what has happened, because lives have been lost. It was only houses where the prime suspect in the killing of soldiers staysthat were burnt not innocent people’s houses. That is why I appeal to the federal government to establish army formation at Igbomotoru Community, it will help checkmate the criminality.

“So, I urge the army to continue to be civil as they are hunting for their suspected killers of soldiers, because the community is ready to assist them to ensure that all suspects involved in the dastardly act are apprehended,” he said.