Residents from various Northern and Southern ethnic stocks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, have debunked reports making rounds that the #EndSARS protest has snowballed into a crisis between Northerners in the city and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Reports were rife recently that IPOB members are targeting Muslim Northerners in the city and the “Hausa boys” are in turn mobilizing for a massive reprisal.
However, findings by Arewa Agenda, a publication of Northern young writers for peace anf national development, reveals that the alleged incident involving northerners was clearly a disagreement between two people that led to a lady being stabbed, and in a bid to defend the injured victim, a young man brutalize the ‘stabber’.
He then reinforced by inviting his brothers to cause serious damages to goods and some property around the Eleme junction area (Oil Mill market) which led a swift police intervention that curtailed further destruction of properties.
This particular case had nothing to do with the Oyigbo crisis and no Northerner was killed during the scuffle.
Prior to this, three Police Stations in Rivers State came under attack last week Wednesday at about 2130hrs, when hoodlums numbering about 500 suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), invaded the Oyigbo Area Command, Oyigbo and Afam Police Stations, setting them ablaze and damaging about fifteen vehicles including one Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).
In the wake of the attack, two police officers were killed, while some arms and ammunition were carted away by the hoodlums.
In another attack at the Mile One Police Station, the same rampaging hoodlums who operated under the guise of #ENDSARS Protests made frantic attempt at burning the Mile One Police Station and the office of Eagle Crack Squad but were however repelled by the superior fire power of the Police, as three of them were fatally wounded in the exchange of gunfire, while eight (8) of them were arrested and immediately transferred to State CID where they are currently helping in our investigation.
In a statement issued by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike’s Media Aide, Kelvin Ebiri, a 24-hour curfew was declared in some parts of the state.
The entire Oyigbo local government was affected by the curfew, while Mile 1, Mile 2, Emenike, Ikowu and Iloaubuchi areas of Port Harcourt local government, as well as Oil Mill area of Obio-Akpor local government, are affected too, a statement from the Rivers Government House quoted Mr Wike to have said via a state-wide broadcast on Wednesday.
Various claims made the rounds on Social Media platforms that killing of northerners in Oyigbo was rampantly ongoing and that Yam, Onions, Kola and pepper sellers are been killed every day by the Igbo’s in Oyigbo and Ogboeche areas of the state leading to some Northern interest groups calling on its people to boycott supply of groceries and other edibles to the southern part of the country.
There were further claims that the situation had degenerated in Ikoku, leading to the killing of trailer drivers.
Speaking to Arewa Agenda, a resident of the city, Mujaheed Aminu said he was a victim of the Eleme Junction incidence.
“The protesters, or let me say IPOB members came to attack our Eleme Junction Wazobia market. They chased us, throwing stones and bottles at us but we couldn’t defend ourselves because we had no weapon, we ran away, watching them from a hideout as they set our market and goods on fire. They stole our goods, about 150 bags of rice 170 bags of beans and 200 bags of potatoes,” Aminj narrated.
But when all sources were asked to substantiate claims with photos and videos, there was nothing to show for it even after five days of this investigation.
We live in peace, harmony – residents
Mr. Abubakar Muhammad, a member of Garkuwa Youth Organization in Port Harcourt told Arewa Agenda that it was not true the situation is turning into an anti-Northern Muslim crisis.
While acknowledging that was pockets of general crisis, the situation is calm and the Northern Muslims are living in peace and harmony with their host and other ethnic stock.
Also speaking, Princess Akporaro, a broadcast journalist and psychologist said that the relationship between the Northern Muslims and their Niger Deltan host is one of mutual love, harmony and familyhood.
“We have Northerners as tenants in my family home in Delta State who have lived with us peacefully for almost 50 years. The Muslims in my community, Ozoro were given a piece of land to build a mosque. Ozoro is in Isoko North LGA of Delta State.”
Asked if the Northerners reciprocate the gesture in any way, the Princess of the Niger Delta Area quipped, “Oh yes! I got a lot of free suya (kebab) as a child and my family never ever paid for the repair of shoes and wristwatches when I was growing up because our northern tenants fixed all that. Their children practically lived with us as one big family. It is a very large street and everyone is family. Truth is, Muslims are peace-loving people. The only thing causing division is not politics but bad politicians.
“Most of the people causing mayhem are safe wherever they are but setting vulnerable people up against themselves. It is really sad how we divide and rule.”
No Northerner was killed – official
According to an official incident summary report cited by Arewa Agenda on the matter, no northerner’s life was lost in the crisis.
The Oyigbo attack summary of the incident report reveals that 21 hoodlums were arrest, 3 policemen killed, 3 Police Stations burnt, 1 police station vandalized and 4 hoodlums killed.
The report gave the names of policemen killed as follows:
1. AP/No. 241542 Inspr. Sunday Dubon— APC Driver Attached to Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU) killed and burnt to ashes.
2. F/No. 414018 Sgt. Swawale Ornan — Attached to 19 PMF on Special Duty at Oyigbo, killed and burnt to ashes.
3. F/No. 424944 Sgt. Umunna Uchechukwu—- serving in Afam Police Station, his leg and hand were cut off and burnt to ashes.
The Names of the Suspected IPOB Members arrested in connection with the attacks are, Oguzie Nwajie (M), Chibueze Raphael (M), Andrew Oyam (M), Chisom Ogbowu (M), Mebebari Yogbara (M), ThankGod Samuel (M), Nzube Ukachukwu (M), Temple Uzuegbu (M), Success Odinaka (M), Ugochukwu Omeihe (M), Evidence Igodo (M), Chibuzor Ugo (M), Dennis Richard (M), Chidi Samuel (M), Emmanuel Michael (M), Shedrack Chinasa (M), Hope Solomon (M), Anthony Okwele (M), Nweke Onuigbo (M), Kenneth Ojinkeya (M), Samuel Uban (M),
Rivers, being one of the State prone to violence in the country has in recent time enjoyed fragile peace which may have been disrupted by the recent uprisings. The police command in the state has however vowed to sustain peace the treasure base of the Nation.