A man, his wife, five children, and eight others were killed yesterday in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Over 52 persons, who were also injured in the New Year’s Day attack by some gunmen, were in critical condition in hospitals.
The victims had just concluded a service in an unnamed church when the gunmen opened fire on them.
The bodies of the 15 victims, as at press time, were still at the pavilion of the secretariat of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Council in Omoku, their relatives, and friends making efforts to identify them.
The rampaging gunmen were suspected to be militants working for a man the military described as “a notorious kidnapper, militant, cultist, ardent illegal oil bunkering”, Mr. Igwedibia Johnson, aka Don Waney, who is on the run, following the raid of his camp and shrines on November 20, last year, as part of 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt’s continued efforts to rid the Niger Delta of criminals.
In Southern Kaduna yesterday, a ruler Mallam Gambu Makama and his wife were gunned down by mask-wearing gunmen in their home after midnight.
Crude oil and gas-rich Omoku hosts the Federal College of Education (FCE) Technical, many multinational oil firms, oil service companies and other establishments, but most of the commercial banks in the ancient town have been closed for months, in view of insecurity, without the hope of the bankers returning to the city.
An indigene of Omoku, who yesterday gave details of how the 15 worshippers were gunned down but would not want his name in print, to avoid his being trailed by the criminals, said as the Christians were leaving their various churches on January 1, the gunmen were spraying them with bullets at close range.
The source said: “Since 2014, when the crisis started in Omoku and its environs, over 500, mostly innocent people, have been killed.
“I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nyesom Wike to take immediate action to secure the lives and property of residents of Omoku and its environs, especially with the forthcoming primaries of political parties and general elections.
“We do not deserve the killings in Omoku and its environs. We are not in a state of war. Don Waney’s boys have regrouped and are terrorizing innocent citizens. Over 52 wounded victims of New Year Day attack in Omoku are now in various hospitals and clinics.”
Police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said he was yet to get details of the New Year’s Day’s incident from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Omoku.
Omoni said immediately he got information about the killings in Omoku, he contacted the DPO, who promised to get back to him, but yet to do so, as at press time.
Peterside laments Rivers killings
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has lamented the killings in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State by unidentified gunmen shortly after attending New Year’s Eve service.
Dr. Peterside sympathized with the families of the deceased, saying its another set of deaths too many in a local government area that was held hostage by cult groups claiming supremacy and allegedly enjoying support from some politicians.
He expressed regret that while other parts of the state were in celebratory mood, the people of ONELGA were mourning the passing away of their beloved in the most gruesome manner.
”My heart goes the people of ONELGA and the immediate families of the deceased. This is an act that must be condemned. The good people of Omoku have suffered enough and this has dealt a further blow on their sufferings,” he stressed.
The NIMASA boss stated that the latest killings have exposed the lack of capacity and competence on the part of Governor Nyesom Wike to provide adequate security for Rivers people.
”I have said it time and again that Governor Wike lacks the capacity and competence to guarantee the safety and security of Rivers people. It is unfortunate that over 1,000 persons have been killed in questionable circumstances in the last two years under his watch. He should stop playing politics with the lives of Rivers people and face governance."
”Since the governor is not rising to the occasion to show competence, we will henceforth partner with all relevant security agencies to bring peace, law, and order to ONELGA and other parts of Rivers State."
”This is indeed a sad day for the people of ONELGA and the only way we can assuage their feelings is to ensure that this does not happen again. Governor Wike can rise above his partisan politics and display the hallmark of a statesman by openly condemning this murderous act and stop at nothing to arrest the criminals,” he said.