Again soldiers invade Rivers community, raze 15 houses

By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HAR-COURT—There is pandemonium in
Touma community, Bille Kingdom of Degema
Local Government Area, Rivers State, following
the invasion of the area by armed men
believed to be troops of the Nigerian Army.
It was gathered that security personnel alleged
to be operatives of the Joint Military Task
Force, JTF, stormed the community with
heavy gunfire, on Monday, burning down 15
houses and leaving several people with bullet
wounds.
Four days after the incident, residents of the
community are still on the run for fear and
alleged report that the military would return to
attack more communities in the kingdom.
It was gathered that unknown gunmen had
last week attacked an Army House Boat
stationed in Touma and killed three persons,
two civilians and a military man. It is believed
that the invasion was a reprisal attack.
Mr. Akpoebi Dino, who ran out of the
community during the incident, said: “It was
around 10 a.m., on Monday when we saw over
seven gunboats coming to the area. When
they got to our community they started
shooting into the community. They wounded
many people and burnt over 15 houses.
“Hoodlums who are not from our area
attacked one of their camps around our
community. Because of that, they (Army) said
our community connived with the criminals to
attack them. We don’t know what they mean
by that.
“We have been living happily with soldiers in
the area, we don’t know the cause of the
sudden change. When the unknown gunmen
attacked the military base, the community
helped to take those who sustained bullet
wounds to the hospital and deposited about
three corpses in the mortuary.”
However, the Bille Kingdom in a statement
yesterday in Port Harcourt, by the Chairman,
Community Development Committee, Asatubo
Kemuel, and the Youth President, Obirabi
Sylvanus, described the invasion as
unwarranted and expressed fears over reports
of further attacks by the military.
The statement said: “Residents of Touma
community are forced to flee for safety and at
present, many persons are reportedly missing.
At least, one person, Mr. Profit Joseph, a
resident of Touma community sustained
severe bullet injury from gunshot by the
soldiers. It is alleged that there are also plans
to invade and burn down other communities in
Bille Kingdom, namely Jike-ama, Kirikama,
Gogobo-ama, Opu Bille Bokoama, etc.
“We wish to put on record that Bille people,
and Touma in particular, have not and will
never attack any Army or other security
personnel. We, therefore, strongly condemn
this unprecedented attack and maltreatment
of innocent civilians, and wanton destruction
of properties.”
Meantime, all the Army authorities contacted
as at the time of filing this report declined
comment on the incident. The Public Relations
Officer of the 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Col.
Aminu Ilyasu, told Vanguard that the JTF PRO
is in a position to comment on the issue.
When contacted, the acting PRO of JTF,
Lieut. Commander Otuji, kept sealed lips.
Similarly, the Public Relations Officer of the
State Police Command, Mr Nnamdi Omoni,
said he would get back to this reporter when
he is briefed by the District Police Officer in
Bille on the alleged invasion .

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