Soldiers arrest, torture The Guardian driver, others in Rivers
Police declare war against looters in Oyigbo
Ahmadu Saifu, The Guardian newspaper’s driver in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, leaves his house in Oyigbo by 6:00 a.m. daily to trek for about one hour before boarding a cab to the office in Ikwere road in the bid to escape the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government in the troubled Oyigbo Local Government Area.
The restriction on movement was imposed in the area after violent attacks that rocked the local council last week.
However, things took a bad turn yesterday for Ahmadu when he stepped out of his residence. He hadn’t walked for a distance when he sighted military personnel coming from the opposite direction.
He thought with his identity card as a media/essential worker, the soldiers would let him go, perhaps after the usual raising of hands and frog-jumping.
But he was wrong, as the angry soldiers were seemingly on a mission to retaliate the alleged killing of their colleagues by suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). They never gave Ahmadu a moment to identify himself. They appeared to be on a mission to arrest and torture anyone on sight.
It will be recalled that residents of Oyigbo had been fleeing the area since Sunday following reports that the military was planning to launch a reprisal attack in the area.
Ahmadu said: “Immediately they arrested over 500 of us at TAP junction, near Pamo University, they made us switch off our phones and ordered us to lie down in mud water, warning that anyone who raised his head or hand would be killed because Oyigbo people killed soldiers.
“When I sensed the situation was tensed, I put my phone on silence and sent a text message to my daughter that the army has arrested me and I don’t know where they were taken us to.”
Ahmadu narrated that the soldiers later took them to a nearby bush filled with broken bottles and asked them to lie down on them, lamenting that the bottles tore his clothes and body. He also disclosed that the soldiers arrested and tortured some police officers who they suspected had collected bribe from victims’ relatives to seek their release.
Speaking further, The Guardian driver said: “After some time, I tried to stand up to show my ID to them, but they refused. Later, I went and met one of the junior officers and showed him my identity card, he took me to the Captain in charge and ordered me to leave. That was how I returned by 1:30 p.m.”
Ahmadu, who disclosed that he sustained hand and head injuries as a result of severe hitting from the soldiers, described his experience as sad, horrible, and unfortunate.
He said: “It is a bad situation we have found ourselves in this country. I was on a lawful duty. I had a valid ID card, but I was tortured for no reason.”
The spokesman of the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, Charles Ekeocha, who The Guardian reporter contacted earlier on the matter, confirmed that he contacted the army commander in the area to facilitate Ahmadu’s release.
MEANWHILE, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, has declared total war against the miscreants who attacked and looted police stations in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state. The police boss made the declaration during a meeting with Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Heads of Departments of the Tactical Units in the command.
He gave the officers marching order within the next 48 hours to deploy both intelligence and patrols across the command to ensure that the items looted are recovered and perpetrators arrested with immediate effect.
The CP further warned members of the proscribed IPOB to relocate from the state as machinery has been put in place to fish them out and deal with them as a terrorist group.
Mukan reiterated that Rivers State is not an IPOB state and would deal decisively with any group that carries out activities under that guise or any guise whatsoever.