Tony Ita Etim, Port Harcourt
he people of Ogoni in Rivera State may go to the International Criminal Court, ICC, over last Monday invasion of some Ogoni communities by soldier from the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt.
Former president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) Barrister Ledum Mitee disclosed this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State while reacting to the army invasion of communities in Gokana and Khana local government areas, which left more than 10 persons dead.
Mitee appealed to Ogoni people not to be provoked to confront the soldiers rather they should peacefully ad diligently gathered evidence that would be use in prosecuting those behind the killings of innocent Ogoni people.
The Ogoni leader declared that if those behind the killings are not punished by the Nigerian government, the Ogoni people will be left with no other option than to take their case to the ICC.
In his reaction to the killings, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike declared that all those involved in the killing of innocent Ogoni people and residents of Ogoniland will be brought to justice as nobody will be allowed to play politics with the lives of Rivers People.
Wike averred that the military must subject itself to civil authority, and disclosed that as Chief Security Officer of Rivers State, he was not informed of the operation that led to loss of innocent lives of Ogoni people and residents of the area.
He accused some politicians of deliberately instigating crisis in the state to create room for the evil declaration of state of emergency plotted by enemies of Rivers People.
Wike made the disclosure on Thursday when he led the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr Musa Kimo and top police officers on a fact finding mission to Yeghe community in Gokana Local Government Area, affected communities in Bori and Mortuaries where those killed by soldiers were deposited.
According to Wike: “The Rivers State Government will take up this unfortunate incident with the appropriate authorities. The military must subject itself to civil authority. I am the chief security officer of this state. Before any deployment of soldiers, I should be informed, but in this case I was not aware.
“I will always support the security agencies in the fight against criminals and criminality, but I will never support the killing of innocent persons. That is why I am here today for an on-the-spot assessment. I have seen for myself the destruction in Yeghe and the killings that took place. I went to the Mortuaries to see the corpses and the relatives of the deceased confirmed they were killed in the operation”.
He continued “I have told security agencies to be careful so that they are not misled by politicians. As your governor, I have never used soldiers because I don’t need them. When I see people not in government moving around with soldiers, I am surprised. If you are popular with your people, you have no reason to move with soldiers. ”
While advised the Ogoni people not to take the laws into their hands, Governor Wike said: “All those who masterminded these killings will face justice. They are busy causing crisis because of their evil plan to declare a state of emergency in the state. Since they failed in my case, they will fail in others because God is greater than them”.
The governor noted that he has always advised the military to arrest criminals and hand them over to the police for prosecution in line with the rules of engagement and not to take actions that would harm innocent citizens.
He denied ever making inflammatory statements on the Ogoni political arena, and explained that he only campaigned for his political party, which according to him, it is within his political right to guide the people on the electoral choice they have to make in the interest of the state.
Wike also disclosed that the state government will hold a comprehensive security council meeting on the Ogoni Security Situation.
He urged those who fled their homes to return as his administration has taken measures to check a repeat of the ugly incident.
Bari Zikpo, a retired police officer, told the governor that his first son was killed in the ill-fated operation by the military and lamented tha the operation claimed many others in the town.
In Bori, David Gbarazie informed the governor that he lost his brother to the military operation.
Also in Bori, the Igbo community also informed the community that the military killed some traders in front of their shops.
Spokesman for the Igbo traders in Bori, Mr Michael Akuchi said a trader Livinus Nwafor and his brother Kelechi Nwafor were killed by soldiers.
During the governor’s visit, thousands of wailing bereaved widows, youths, children, widowers and traders at Yeghe and Bori displayed photographs of loved ones killed by soldiers. They also displayed placards condemning the military operation that claimed the lives of their loved ones.
Sources from Gokana and Khana local government areas told our correspondent that on Wednesday, some soldiers invaded some mortuaries in the communities and attempted to take away the corpses of those who were killed during last Monday invasion but were resisted by the residents.