Tony Ita-Etim, Port Harcourt
The Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (COTRA) has protested over the abduction of the traditional Ruler of Yeghe community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, HRH Barinaadaa T.D. Gbaranee, by soldiers.
The protest was contained in a press statement issued on Tuesday and signed by His Royal Highness, King Suanu T.Y. Baridam, Chairman, Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers.
According to the statement, COTRA “wishes to express its displeasure and condemnation of yesterday’s abduction of the paramount ruler of Yeghe community in Ogoniland, HRH Barinaadaa T.D. Gbaranee by men of the Nigerian Army stationed in Bori.
“We consider the abduction of Chief T.D. Gbaranee a desecration of the highly respected traditional institution and strongly reject the humiliation of an Ogoni traditional stool by the Army.”
They demanded the “immediate release of Chief Barinaadaa T.D Gbaranee and, expect that if there be any issues regarding his conduct, he ought to be treated with respect, decency and in a dignified manner with an invitation, if that fails, the issue should be brought before the Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers; if that fails, the issue be brought before the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, the failure upon which further actions can be taken.
The traditional rulers pointed out that “that the abduction and embarrassment of Chief Barinaadaa T.D. Gbaranee, a government-recognized traditional ruler and member of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, a member of the Council of Ogoni Traditional rulers, is unacceptable to the entire Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers.
“We accuse the army of dubious intentions and alert the Nigerian people and the international community of clear genocidal intentions against the Ogoni people and particularly the Yeghe people.
“We note that the actions of the Nigerian army in Ogoniland in recent times following the raids and killing of over 20 persons and subsequent raids on the peaceful and law abiding citizens of Yeghe calls for serious questions regarding the credibility and intentions of the army’s presence in Ogoniland,” the traditional rulers submitted.
When contacted the spokesman for the 2nd Brigade (Bori Camp) Port Harcourt, Captain Lazarus Eli responded that “The Paramount Ruler of Yeghe Community, HRH Barinadaa Gbaranee was invited by 2 Brigade Nigerian Army in connection withan ongoing investigation that relates to security within his domain.
“I assure you that he will return to his community as soon as investigation is completed. Thank you Sir,” Captian Eli replied in a text message sent to our correspondent.