Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
The recent events and killings in Oyigbo, Rivers State, all started on October 21, 2020. On that day, members of the “Independent People of Biafra” (IPOB), a group that has been described as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government and a Federal High Court, were said to have invaded Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State “in a senseless and mindless attack”, killing three police officers and burning down three police stations.
In a press briefing given on Monday, October 26, 2020, the commissioner of police in Rivers State, Joseph Mukan, accused members of the IPOB as hiding under the #EndSARS movement to kill three police officers in the state and burn down three police stations in Afam and Oyigbo Local Government areas.
He gave the identity of the killed police officers as Sunday Dubon, Swawale Ornan, and Umunna Uchechukwu, whose corpses were either burnt to ashes or parts of their bodies cut off.
Governor Wike Imposes Curfew, Proscribes IPOB
Following this development, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, in a state-wide broadcast, stated that the state government had “serious concern” about the activities of the outlawed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in the state.
He stated that it had become a regular occurrence for IPOB members to disturb the peace of the state, including unleashing violence on communities, people and police officers.
He stated that Oyigbo town had become the “operational base” of the group in the state, and that following the violence that the group routinely unleashes in Rivers State, the government has decided to “outlaw IPOB from existing or operating in Rivers State or any part thereof”, and that security agencies are to stop any agitation by IPOB and arrest any person that identifies with IPOB in the state.
He also declared one Stanley Mgbere wanted for destroying lives and properties in Eleme and Onne Local Government Areas, and that there was a ₦50 million bounty for anyone who had useful information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of the Stanley Mgbere.
Meanwhile, before that time, specifically on October 21, the governor had imposed a curfew in the state in Mile 1, Mile 2, Emenike, Ikowu, and Iloabuchi areas of Port-Harcourt Local Government Area as well Oil Mill area of Obi-Akpor Local Government Area. He later lifted the curfew in every part of the state except that of Oyigbo Local Government Area.
Curfew In Oyigbo, Killings By Soldiers
Since Wednesday 21st October 2020, residents of Oyigbo Local Government have been in their homes following the 24-hours curfew imposed by the Rivers State Government. Reports say that residents lack access to food and basic healthcare services.
Officers of the Nigerian military have also been deployed to the area, and there have been reports of human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings by officers of the Nigerian military.
The soldiers are said to be going from house to house, while harrassing and killing people.
Online publications are putting the death toll in Oyibo Local Government at more than a hundred while stating that the military has blocked journalists and human rights groups from accessing Oyigbo, an Igbo-dominated settlement eastwards from Port-Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army is denying the accusations. The public relations officer for 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major Charles Ekeocha has insisted that the ongoing operation was not designed to inconvenience residents of Oyigbo.
According to him: “We are there to carry out an operation to recover weapons carted away from our soldiers who were killed so that the criminals will not use the guns to kill innocent citizens in Rivers and outside the State. We carry out our search professionally”.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.
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