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Bayelsa monarch recounts ordeal with militants linked to Delta soldier killings

The Paramount Ruler of Igbomotoru Communities in Bayelsa State, HRH Ayibaikie Aseimighen Ofongo, has shared a harrowing account of his expulsion from the community, orchestrated by a militant group now notorious for the recent killings of soldiers in Delta State.

Speaking to journalists in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Ofongo detailed how the militant gang, which had long terrorized the Southern Ijaw local government area, eventually forced him into exile three years ago.

The monarch, who is also a retired army officer, expressed his inability to overlook the gang’s criminal activities in his homeland.

He revealed that the militant leader assumed control of Igbomotoru following his banishment, maintaining power until the recent incident in Okuama where soldiers were killed.

Ofongo praised the ongoing military operations targeting the militant group in the Igbomotoru Communities.

He noted that the military’s actions have been focused on apprehending the elusive militant leader and his associates, reflecting a strategic and targeted approach to restoring peace and order in the region.

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.

“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.”

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