Youths take over Rivers community, banish chiefs for allegedly taking bribe from Shell
• We are now refugees, chief cries out
Youths in Bodo community in Gokana Council of Rivers State have forced their chiefs and elders to flee the town.
Public Relations Officer of Bodo Chiefs and Elders, Saint Emma-Pee, explained that the youths chased the leaders away on the allegation that they collected bribes from Shell Petroleum company over oil spill that occurred in the area last month.
Emma-Pee, who is also the Chairman of Bodo Council of Village Heads, recalled that the first spill occurred on August 2, while the second spill happened few days later.
He recounted his experience at an event organised by GreenFaith International and Lift Humanity Foundation on National Consultative Dialogue on Faith and Climate Justice, saying the youths went on the rampage and destroyed properties, accusing chiefs of compromising in signing the JIV report.
The chief, who said he was smuggled out of the community as his house and car and those of seven others were being destroyed, called on relevant agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations to assist in restoring peace to the community.
“I thank God for being alive today. On the 11th of last month, my house and those of seven other chiefs were destroyed and most of us have been living as refugees because of some restive youths.
“Not only me, even the paramount ruler, his house was also torched. Yesterday (Monday), I managed to escape to attend this meeting. The youths blocked the main road entering Bodo and also blocked the Bodo/Bonny road. It was the youth in Pipelines, those restive youths. I ran to another community and became a refugee there for two weeks.
“There is so much crisis in Bodo community. Those youths, who have seized power and authority in the community, have ordered that nobody should get out of the community today.”
He added: “In Bodo, it is youths that are in control. Almost all the chiefs have escaped from the community.
“From August 2, when the first oil spill happened in Bodo and Shell came in and conducted joint investigation, the youths accused us of taking money from Shell.
“On the second spill, it has not been clampdown yet, the spot has been dug but the youths have prevented everybody from gaining access to the place. Currently, there is a mixture of water and crude oil.”