Cultists set houses ablaze in Rivers
Rampaging cultists have torched several houses in Ubima community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State in retaliation of an army attack.
It was gathered that the army personnel had stormed the community on Tuesday and torched some buildings belonging to some cult kingpins suspected to have mastered the killing of three security guards on duty at the 16,000 hectares oil palm plantations operated by Siat Nigeria Limited.
The Guardian gathered that in the early hours of Sunday, some cultists from Ubima had invaded the palm plantation to steal products. Before raiding the farm, they first attacked the security men on guard, killing three and inflicting severe injuries on two others who were later hospitalized.
Due to the security breach at the palm plantation, which Siat acquired from the Rivers State government, security operatives were invited into the community on Tuesday to fish out some of the cultists.
Following the arrival of the military, two notorious cultists blamed for the death of the security guards immediately deserted the community to avoid arrest. In turn, the security operatives decided to set their houses ablaze.
By yesterday morning, several Deywell cult group members went on rampage burning houses of members of rival Deygbam members who they accused of conducting security operatives round the community on Tuesday.
The king of Ubima, Iheanyi Williams, who confirmed the incidents to The Guardian, said he had expected that the security operatives would have waited till investigation into the murdered guards was concluded before carrying out reprisal attack.
The king explained that it was the company and not Ubima community that invited the security operatives to fish out the suspected killers of the guards.
“The Ubima community is not happy over the unfortunate situation. But, one would have expected that while investigation was still ongoing, the idea of invading the community on Tuesday wouldn’t have been necessary. Even if they want to do something like that they would have liaise with the community authority,” he said.
The killing of the guards has heightened security concerns among workers of the once moribund palm plantation which Siat has revived. A total of 5,000 hectares have been replanted to date.
Several Joint Task Force personnel in Ikwerre and policemen have been deployed to Ubima to forestall further reprisal attacks.