… Pregnant woman, 4 others die as soldiers, militants’ gun battle rages
• Senator Abe alleges death threats
From Tony John, Port Harcourt
It emerged yesterday that the state-owned Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government, Rivers State has been shut indefinitely following heavy shooting between soldiers and militants suspected to be supporters of Solomon Ndigbara.
A source told Daily Sun yesterday evening that many people have been killed in the on-going gun duel in the area.
The source further added that Bori is now a ghost town, as soldiers have taken over the place regarded as the traditional headquarters of Ogoni people.
About five persons are now feared dead, arising from the raid of the home of former militant leader, Solomon Ndigbara (also known as Osama Bin Laden), on Monday night in Yeghe community, in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A pregnant woman, from Yeghe, who was said to have fallen headlong when the shooting started, was one of the victims.
It was gathered that apart from the woman, some people also died in Zaakpo and Bori, headquarters of Khana local government.
Ndigbara, who briefed newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, through his media aide, Dum Nwine, accused the Federal Government of branding him a gun-runner to dent his image.
He, however, accused Senator Magnus Abe and one Barry Mpigi, of being masterminds of the attacks on him.
However, the 2 Brigade of Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, has denied being used by any individual.
Speaking with newsmen on the heels of the shooting in Yeghe and other areas, the Commander, 2 Brigade, Brigadier General Stevenson Olabanji, said he received reports of shooting in the community.
Olabanji stated: “Around 12 noon, we received reports of some (gun) firing in Yeghe community in Gokana. Immediately, I dispatched my commanding officer to go and see what was going on in that community.
“On reaching the house of Solomon Ndigbara, who had already been declared wanted by the 2 Brigade for gunrunning, some hoodlums fired at the commanding officer. After some gun battle between our forces and militants, they were chased out from the community.
“Actually, the incident was localised mainly in Yeghe community. But, somehow, we later learnt that the hoodlums went to Bori (in Khana council) and burnt down a particular house, I think it was the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign office.
“I’ve visited the destroyed house, and have established operations ongoing there and we are actually after those who committed that crime,” he explained.
Reacting to the alleged complicity regarding the rerun elections, the army commander replied: “It is not possible. I cannot understand why anybody should accuse the army of being used by any group for their own personal interest or whatever political interest. It’s a lie and it is propaganda from the pit of hell. Nobody is being used by anybody particularly in this Brigade and I can speak for Nigerian Army in this regard. Nobody will use the Nigerian Army or our personnel to further their own selfish interest. It is a lie and propaganda against the army,” he stressed.
The 2 Brigade commander further stated that none of their personnel was killed or wounded during the incident.
Meanwhile, Senator Abe, who was alleged to be behind the earlier attack in Yeghe, has expressed concern over the spate of insecurity and desperation of some politicians in the state.
Abe, in an interview with Daily Sun yesterday, said his life was in danger, adding that the recent attack at his campaign liaison office in Bori will not deter him for ‘fighting’ for the liberation of the state.
He pointed out that it was sad that since 2015 general election, none of the perpetrators indicted in the political killings in the state, has been prosecuted.
“Nobody has reprimanded them; nobody has been questioned so far. The same rhetoric has started flying again.
“I have been saying since, that we are not safe in the state. But, people do not really understand what we have been saying.”
The APC candidate for Rivers South-East Senatorial District forthcoming rerun election swore he had never attended any meeting where state of emergency for Rivers State was discussed, as alleged by the state governor.
“I have never attended any meeting where the issue of state of emergency for Rivers State was discussed. I have never imagined that in my life. I don’t know why the governor should say that.”
He further urged his supporters to remain calm and be law-abiding in the face of the provocation.