Published On: Tue, Mar 26th, 2024

Panic As Soldiers Continue Invasion Of More Urhobo Communities, Make Arrest, Razed Houses

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LAGOS MARCH 26TH (NEWSRANGERS)-Soldiers have continue their offensive against more Urhobo communities in Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom apparently in retaliation of heinous crime of the killing of five senior military officers and 12 soldiers by irate youths at Okuama community, Ughelli South local government area of Delta State.

Daily Sun reports that this is coming as several riverine communities in Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom, yesterday, raised the alarm over military siege and forceful invasions.

It was gathered that several houses have been burnt in Orere, Omosuomo and Olota communities, all neighbouring communities to Okuama, hotbed of the attack.

Local sources said that the youths in the neighbouring communities who have nothing to do with the crisis in Okuama are assaulted and some arrested for no reason.

The development is coming on the heel of the gruesome murder of 17 soldiers including a lieutenant colonel, two majors and a captain near Okuama community while on a peace-keeping mission to the Urhobo community.

Miffed by the unabated military assault since the bloody attack, the people of Orere community of Ewu-Urhobo kingdom, yesterday, sent a save our soul message to the Federal and Delta Governments to come to their aid over the alleged invasion of their community.

Specifically, people of Orere community alleged that the military personnel tortured villagers while in search for weapons and escaping refugees from Okuama community.

The community alleged that soldiers stormed the riverine village with five gunboats through the waterways, while four Hilux army vehicles came through the Ewu axis last Thursday.

Adjoka Morrison, a local boat operator who narrated his ordeal said, “On March 21, I was at the river side preparing for my daily business when I saw the Nigerian Army with five gun boat and four Hilux loaded with soldiers.

“They held and bundled me into one of the gunboats and took me to the other river bank of the community and as they were taking me into the community, they were shooting sporadically, they messed so many of us up, one the army personnel punched my right eye.”

In the same vein, Orere community chairman, Mr. Michael Edameneri who narrated his ordeal said, “We woke up to hear sound of gun shots at the waterside of our community and I saw both old and the young running and scampering for safety.

“As the community chairman, when I came out, I saw multitude of the Nigerian Army entering the community from different direction and I introduced myself to them and they took me to the town hall.

“Before we got there, they have assembled almost everyone for interrogation, our former chairman, Mr Ighoteguono was injured in his head with their gun butt.

“They separated me from others as they started interrogating me, they asked me to take them to where we keep our guns, I told them we do have any guns except for our local vigilantes.

They were interrogating me at gun point and they were also having me videoed, and a drone with the treat to kill me if I should lie to them but I insisted that we do not have any gun or refugees in the community.

“One of the army told me point blank that our people have been killing their colleagues at the riverside and they are ready to kill anyone.

“While interrogation was going on, one of the army personnel used a key to open a room store at the town hall in search for what I could not explain. They went to my compound and destroyed doors, busted many houses in Orere, but they did not find anything.

“They also asked me to agree that the community should be burnt down because we are hiding people from them or they will take me along with them.

“They took me to the entrance of the community, where the shrine is situated; they destroyed and desecrated the entire place in search of guns and people.

“We are calling on the state and federal government to come our aid because we a peace loving community, we are not harbouring any one here in Orere neither do we have guns.

The Vigilante unit chairman in Orere  community, Mr Udoji Sylvester said, “When I heard the gunshots, I came out from my house to inquire only for me to see soldiers everywhere and upon my inquiry to know what was happening, they shouted me down and ordered me to follow them to our town hall.

“On getting there, all the men, youths and women were made to lie down and i saw some of the soldiers brutalizing them and I told them that, we are a peaceful community and as vigilante, we maintain peace at all times.

“Before I could finish speaking, slaps were just coming like a common criminal and I had a torn lip, they sized and made away with 12 of our vigilante local guns with inscriptions of Ughelli South Vigilante on them.”

While calling on the government for assistance, president general of Orere community, Mr. Dennis Edafeamredje said, “My people called me that they were under siege by the Nigerian Army and from what I was told, the military men that came through land and water were over 200.”

Similarly, soldiers also reportedly invaded Omosuomo community were they allegedly set three houses ablaze. The soldiers were said to have stormed the community in their numbers as villagers fled for safety.

A former President-General of the community who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of arrest, noted that no fewer than 15 persons were injured during the military raid on Ewu community.

They appealed to President Bola Tinubu and Governor Sheriff Oborevwori to call the military men to order, adding that two indigenes namely Mr. Diamond Godday Umukoro and Mr. Micheal Omeyadonor were arrested.

But a military personnel who crave for anonymity had told newsmen last week that the heavy presence of operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named ‘Operation Safe Delta’ in the affected communities in Ughelli South and Bomadi LGAs of Delta State has been scaled down to create a conducive atmosphere for the people to return home.

“The number of military personnel deployed to those communities has been reduced drastically since there is no reason for them to continue the siege.

“Most of the people returning home are mainly women and the elderly. Nobody is harassing them. Though socio-economic activities are yet to pick up, with time things will improve,” the source said.

He said contrary to social media reports, many houses were still untouched in the two communities, stressing that the buildings that were touched were mainly those linked with the suspected killers.

“Contrary to social media reports and analysis on broadcast media, many buildings are still standing in the affected communities. The communities were not razed down as being insinuated. At the appropriate time, the military will open the places for the media to visit and assess what’s on the ground,” he added.

 

The Sun

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