Despite the lifting of the curfew imposed on Oyigbo Town in Rivers State and seeming relaxation too, of the military siege on the area, there are reports of secret killing of suspected loyalists of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. A check by The Neighbourhood showed that missing persons were still unaccounted for with at least one corpse of a youth lying at a roadside in the beleaguered community.
It was also gathered that house-to-house search by soldiers was still continuing.
On Saturday when this newspaper visited Oyigbo, residents alleged ongoing, secret military killings and arrests which could not be confirmed as of press time. However, the newspaper saw a corpse of a young man dressed in shorts and shirt lying around the “New Road” close to the Okra Market. Though no resident could confirm his identity, it was rumoured that he was killed in a military operation. A closer look on his body showed some holes which some persons who drew closer to the scene as our Correspondent did, interpreted to be bullet holes.
Last week, a man was also reportedly killed allegedly by soldiers along Ehi Road. According to residents in the area who spoke to The Neighbourhood strictly under cover, the man owned a beer parlour where ‘peppersoup’ was also served. He was identified, too, by our contacts as a known IPOB supporter.
The Neighbourhood gathered that the man ran into a bait lay by soldiers who had visited his bar dressed in mufti. One of the men reportedly opened a conversation on the activities of IPOB and the ‘foolishness’ of those who risked their lives in support of Nnamdi Kanu. He reportedly blamed IPOB’s supporters who, in their support for Kanu, whom the man said “lives in the comfort of his London home”, had been killed in Oyigbo. Unknown to the barman, the soldiers had been informed of his IPOB reported membership and were working to verify same. One of this newspaper’s sources in the area claimed that the barman “opened his mouth too wide in defence of Kanu and IPOB and even boasted how Nigerian soldiers would be defeated in Oyigbo by IPOB.”
The source added that the soldiers became “too friendly with him that they even bought him some bottles of beer and plate of ‘peppersoup’.”
It was gathered that the soldiers left but only returned later in their military truck, killed and took his body away. The Neighbourhood could not confirm that story nor could it confirm that the military in Oyigbo has a list of persons on their wanted list. However, when our Correspondent visited the bar located to the Expressway Junction, it was shut. In the course of visits to Oyigho last and this week, The Neighbourhood noticed that a fresh troop of soldiers had been mobilised to the area who replaced the earlier set that launched the 15 days offensive on the area. They had helmed-in every resident who was unable to vacate the area prior to the operations. During that operation, over 150 persons were reported missing in the face of reports of human rights abuses and suppression of media reports of the military operations.
Last week, at the Mbano Camp area, a pastor serving in one of the Pentecostal churches nearly fell into the hands of soldiers who came in search of his(pastor’s) younger cousin, an alleged member of the Nigerian separatist group. The pastor, who confirmed for The Neighbourhood his cousin’s membership of IPOB, though they are natives of Eket in Akwa Ibom State, said, however, the young man had left hime soon after the report of the killing of some soldiers, allegedly by IPOB members, filtered into town. “Soon as that news spread, my brother packed out of this house to where I don’t know. Maybe, by report, the soldiers might have heard that an IPOB member live here. So, they came but did not find him. I told them I was a pastor and had no business with IPOB. Though they came in a deceitful way to possibly get information from me, I spoke the truth to them.”
As of today( Saturday) when The Neighbourhood visited the area, life still remained dull with most streets that used to be full of beehive deserted. Soldiers still have roadblocks where passers-by must raise hands and searched. Because young men were reportedly arrested and taken away at such locations by soldiers of suspected IPOB membership, youths now avoid those checkpoints.
States governors from the South East region and the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo had paid a visit to Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Sunday, November 8 during which they dismissed the reports of alleged killings in Oyigbo. Chairman of the South East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, was quoted to have said the reports were unfounded as they warned the Igbo in the state against provocative conduct.
The newspaper was unable to speak with the Spokesman, 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Major Charles Ekeocha, on the matter as of press time.