‘My Daughter Asked Me If They Were Going To Shoot Us,’ Oyigbo Residents Narrate The Untold Story Of IPOB/Military Clash
The Rivers State Government finally lifted a 24-hour curfew imposed on Oyigbo Local Government in the wake of the EndSARS protest on Tuesday night, and residents have heaved signs of relief after 12 days of military lockdown.
Law and order broke down in the area during the EndSARS protest when suspected members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attacked and killed police and military personnel, and burnt public properties. THE WHISTLER had also reported that suspected IPOB members also clashed with residents of the area, leading to more bloodshed and violence. There were reports that IPOB members also looted police and military armouries. Six soldiers and four policemen were reportedly killed by IPOB.
Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, on Octomber 28, subsequently declared a 24-hour curfew on Oyigbo and further announced a total ban on the activities of the IPOB in the state.
The military immediately moved in and began a house to house search for members of the proscribed group and the arms they allegedly stole. IPOB members reportedly resisted the military’s invasion and engaged in gun battle with soldiers.
THE WHISTLER spoke with some of the residents after the lifting of the curfew and they narrated tales of fear, agony and deaths.
A business man told THE WHISTLER: “I never knew I could be standing today talking about what we saw and witnessed in the past two to three weeks. I owe it all to God for survival because at some point, I thought I was never going to be alive again.
“Every day it is either there is rapid shooting, house to house search by the army, burning of buildings or killing of someone.
“I witnessed a young boy who was hit by a stray bullet during the wake of the curfew. His name is Justice Raphael a 20- year old who just wrote his WAEC.
“The bullet hit him when some of the Army men were chasing some alleged IPOB members from their hideout in Oyigbo West. He was unfortunate to have been hit by the bullet.
“We managed to rush him to a nearby health facility in a wheel barrow but he was already dead. His corpse is in the mortuary and the parents are yet to be back as they travelled before the curfew.
“Meanwhile the Army has accepted it was an accident and helped in taking the corpse to the mortuary awaiting the parents’ return.”
A banker with First bank also narrated his ordeal and experience to THE WHISTLER. According to Ogbonnaya, “War is not something any reasonable and rationale minded person should ever pray for I swear. You needed to have seen the rate at which flying bullets were hitting our houses. My four year old daughter asked me, daddy is they coming to shoot us? And I answered No in tears and fear of the unknown. We did not feel safe inside our own houses.
“I actually witnessed the burning down of the shops in Kom-Kom market during the fight with IPOB and Security Agencies. The guys came fully prepared as bullets were not even penetrating them and the police were retreating. Though the police managed to hit one of them but they immediately carried him inside their car and drove off while some of the police men ran for their lives.
“It was quite unfortunate for my weekend football team mate who was a victim of the shooting by the IPOB during the crisis. Darlington (deceased) was caught around one of the hideouts of the proscribed IPOB as they were smoking. On sighting the Army he took to his heels and they shot him thinking he was among them. He died at the spot and the two arrested IPOB members told them he was not among them.
“He has four kids and a wife. Now tell me, what becomes the fate of those little innocent children that have lost their father because of some miscreants?
“Though the Army conducted a thorough search for their lost ammunitions and they have recovered quite a whole lot but they have done more harm than good to us here in Oyigbo.
“Who will take responsibility for all of the accidental bullets, stray bullets and direct bullets that killed people here? I implore Wike to conduct a thorough investigation and also compensate the victims of his curfew and army invasion.”
“Our fear is for IPOB members not to come back for Innocent residents because some persons who knew their faces were affected. They either burn your shop or take valuables from you or they can bring the army to your house and say you’re one of them.”
A lawyer told THE WHISTLER: “I cannot categorically say whether it’s the soldiers or IPOB that shot my neighbor who is a hair stylist at No 12b Ehi Road Oyigbo as they were not on uniform but heavily armed.
“Miss Queen Bakor was shot inside her small kiosk attached to the front of our apartment in the wake of the crisis that engulfed the area. She was sighted by one of the Hoodlums that killed her, the next thing I heard was ‘what are you doing there, you dey try look our face abi, boom, he shot her through the metal door that was in front of the kiosk. In seconds she was down in her pool of blood and gone.
“A young girl fending for herself, full of life and killed for no just course. It was really sad I must say. You cannot chase after armed men who are shooting all over. At the moment she’s still in the mortuary.
“One needs to visit the mortuary to see dead victims of this crisis that happened in Oyigbo. It was indeed bloody. The Army should retreat because most bereaved families are beginning to revolt against them already and if care and caution is not applied, I bet you will still witness yet another season of bloodshed in Oyigbo.”