Mar 11, 2016

Ogoni: Senate Opens Investigation on Ogoni Land Invasion

The Nigerian Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has decided to open an investigation on the alleged military invasion of Ogoniland. According to an Ogoni leader, the occupation, which started in February [2016] has brought to the death of 12 harmless people, including women and children. Moreover, most of the survivors have escaped from the brutality of the soldiers hiding in the mountains, consequently abandoning their homes that are now occupied by the armed forces.

Below is an article published by: The Nation of Nigeria

The Senate Thursday opened investigation into alleged military invasion of Ogoni land, River State.

Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions charged with the investigation following petitions on the matter took testimonies from some interested parties.

Four Ogoni villages were alleged to have been invaded by the military.

The Civil Liberties Organisation and the traditional ruler of Mene Bua-Yeghe community in Ogoniland, Chief Barinaada Gbaranee, defended their separate petitions against the Nigerian Army before the committee.

Gbaranee, claimed that the unlawful occupation of his territory and three other communities by soldiers, started on February 22, 2016.

The Monarch noted that the armed military personnel who allegedly invaded his community also invaded the house of a former Niger Delta militant, Mr. Solomon Ndigbara.

The armed military men, he claimed, vandalized his cars and buildings without just cause.

He told the lawmakers that prior to the attack, the soldiers had allegedly arrested Ndigara’s wife and his siblings.

He said;”The military occupation of Ogoniland, escalated on 23 February to the extent that the army engaged themselves in the brutal killing of men, women and children numbering about 12.

“The sporadic shootings against the harmless and defenseless peace loving people of Ogoniland, led to the displacement of natives of even neighbouring towns as Zaakpon and Wiiyakara communities, in fact even extending up to Babbe Kingdom.

“Consequent upon this, all economic activities in Ogoniland especially Bori town and other adjoining villages have been grounded to a halt.

“Men, Women and children have deserted their homes and are taking refuge in the bush and forest due to heavy presence of the military personnel, patrolling in armoured cars with sophisticated weapons.”

He noted that Ogoniland had remained peaceful prior to the military invasion.

The Monarch asked the senators to use their legislative powers to stop the killings and tension.
He said, “The continued exposure of vulnerable men, women and children, certainly is beginning to cause hunger, sicknesses and diseases, the resultant effect Is sudden death.”
He noted that members of his community were still scattered in the bush due to fear and apprehension.

The South-South Zonal Chairman of the CLO, Mr.Chinedu Uchegbu, in defence of his petition, claimed that the military invasion affected four communities in two local governments in Ogoniland.

Uchegbu noted the people of Yeghe, Zaakpo, Bori, and Babbe in the Gokhana and Khana council areas were violated by the military invaders.

He listed those allegedly killed by the soldiers to include, Nwibari Mbu; Bariture Ziibo; Lesi Ledee (a pregnant mother); Saturday Gbarazia;  Kelechi Nwafor and his brother Linus Nwafor,  among others.

The CLO leader also listed those arrested and still being detained to include Messrs Gambo Festus; Dennis Macaulay Nbinna: Ndikwa Tekpe; Nwii Peter and two others from Tai local government area of the state.

He claimed that Messrs Gabriel Ndigbara Piabari; Richard Ndigbara; Mrs. Kate Ndigbara;  Bob Nkue;  and Smart Deedom,  among others are still being held by the soldiers.

He also claimed that Messrs Chikwodo Nwankwo; and Azubuike  Iga among others, sustained various degrees of injury and currently on admission in the various hospitals in the local government.

Ukaegbu described as worrisome, a situation whereby a federal government agency which ought to guarantee security for everybody in the society and which ought to maintain law and order, is being associated with plots to cause insecurity”

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, assured that his panel would ensure a thorough investigation into the allegation.

Anyanwu however said that for a thorough investigation to be seen to have been conducted, the committee needed to hear from the military that is being accused of invading the communities.

He said that the committee would invite the military to get their own side of the story before presenting a report to the Senate in plenary.