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Gov Wike: I never ordered army to kill Igbos in Oyigbo

... Says he knows the person who stirred IPOB to protest

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has vehemently denied ordering the army to kill Igbos in Oyigbo local council area of the state. This is as cries of indiscriminate killing, lockdown leading starvation, and induced deaths though blockade have ruled the area which shares boundary with Abia State.

Gov Wike, in a television interview, described the allegation as a politically motivated falsehood.

He maintained that curfew was imposed in Oyigbo to restore calm after members of proscribed Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Biafra (IPOB) killed six soldiers, four policemen and, allegedly destroyed all police stations and court buildings in the area.

He said the narrative that Igbos were being killed by the military was intended to shift attention from the despicable activities of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Oyigbo.

The governor stated: “I know that this is not the first time IPOB has used Oyigbo as launching ground. The security agencies are aware. IPOB added a new dimension this time. They killed six army officers and burnt one. They killed four police officers. They destroyed all the police stations and court buildings. What offense did we commit as a state?

“I imposed curfew to restore calm. I proscribed IPOB activities anywhere in the state. Don’t forget that the Federal Government had declared them a terrorist group. It is not the entire Igbos that believe in IPOB activities.

“So, it’s not true. When did I become a friend to the military? So what about the Igbos living elsewhere in the state, are they also being killed?”

He further said: “I have no relationship with the Army or the Police, I do not command them. They change commissioners of police every time. How will I begin to direct the Army that I do not give instruction to”?

The governor bemoaned what he called IPOB’s effrontery to rename a local government in the State and hoist its flag in a public school in Kom-kom Town.

“I will not fold my arms and watch criminals destroy our state. If those few criminals are Igbos, then they should know that I will not allow them. They made attempt to rename a local government in my state. That alone is a signal. I will not agree to that. I know who is doing all these; who has told them to rise, protest against Wike.”

The governor stated that the state government has no regret against its stance on IPOB, already designated as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government. According to him, even the South-East governors have never supported IPOB and wondered why a governor from the Niger Delta should tolerate the group.

He revealed that security agencies during their search of some residences in Oyigbo saw shrines with IPOB flags and Nnamdi Kanu’s picture. He maintained that if IPOB is allowed to operate from Oyigbo, they would soon overrun the State.

The governor said the government has commenced moves to replace all the property destroyed by the group during the protest, regretting that the damage have left huge financial burden on the state. In addition, he said the State has decided to compensate each family of the killed security personnel with N20m to cater to for the welfare of each of the bereaved widows and their children.

He further said that the EndSARS protest and its aftermath would have been averted if the FG had not dismissed the alarm he earlier raised on the activities of SARS to mere politics.

“Here, the minister always used SARS to cause mayhem. We suffered a great deal. At a time, the entire National Assembly election was cancelled, but we put faith in God who owns the state. We triumphed eventually”, he said.

The mention of the name of the ‘minister’ has attracted reaction from top image makers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State. Chris Finebone, former publicity officer, wondered how the governor would mock Rotimi Amaechi for being mobbed by IPOB abroad only to turn round now to acuse same Amaechi of instigating them to protest.

On his own, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a media consultant who defends Amaechi, said it was Wike who used IPOB to win elections in 2015 and 2019. He urged Wike to leave Amaechi alone.

Meanwhile, the Army has repeatedly denied killing people in Oyigbo or doing evil, but several residents have narrated tales of woes. A 45-year-old man has described how his wife was forced to bleed to death with her unborn child because the soldiers would not permit him to take her out of Oyigbo to maternity during bleeding and labour.

A man has also described how a bute shot by soldiers pierced through the door and killed his fiancée. Mass arrests of over 500 persons including women going for morning foodstuff market have been reported. Media workers who live there have been sending out details.

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