Ton Ita-Etim, Port Harcourt
The 2 Brigade of the Nigeria Army in Port Harcourt has warned cultists in Rivers State to desist from their criminal activities or face the wrath of the law.
The warning was contained in a press statement signed by Captain Eli Lazarus, an Assistant Director Army Public Relations of 2 while reacting to the killing of some soldiers by cultists in the state last Sunday.
Eli stated that “the issues of cult clashes in Rivers State has assumed an alarming dimension and a source of security concern in the State. In the past few days, cult clashes were recorded in communities in Ikwerre and Emuoha LGAs of the State with several deaths recorded. Amongst these deaths are some of our personnel who were part of the team that responded to distress calls to prevent the situation from further degenerating.”
The statement disclosed that “preliminary investigation revealed that these barbaric and condemnable acts were cult wars of dominance between Icelanders and other cult groups. This is seemingly motivated by the quest for economic advantage suspected to be connected to oil theft and illegal bunkering activities.
“The cultists are hereby warned to surrender their arms and turn away from their evil ways. Therefore, I wish to state unequivocally that any such attacks on any community will be met with full military action. The viciousness and bestiality displayed by these cultists in killing their rivals have no place in any civilized society. The level of violence and carnage recorded in the past few days must be eschewed and denounced by all peace loving and law abiding people of Rivers State. Those involved must never be allowed to go unpunished,” warned the Brigade.
“Youths,” the Army warned, “must be guided to save them from self-destruction. Parents are therefore advised to warn their children/wards against belonging to or associating with any cult group. Anyone caught will not be spared. Additionally, information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of these heinous crime and their patrons is hereby solicited from the general public. Be assured that all information volunteered in this regard will be treated as confidential.
“The people are urged to remain calm and go about their lawful activities as security agencies will continue to work assiduously and make sacrifices in the performance of their constitutional roles and relate with all well-meaning citizens to identify these criminal groups and bring them to justice,” assured the Army.
It would be recalled that 12 persons were killed on last Sunday morning in Odegu villages in Emohua local government Area of the state.
More than 19 persons were killed Friday night and Sunday morning by unknown cult groups in different locations in Aluu and Omagwa communities respectively forcing parents to locked their children, and wards, at home.
Two persons were also shot dead at Rumuewhor, seven in Ovogu and three confirmed dead in Rumuji, all in Rivers state.
Among persons killed by the cultist include two soldiers at Omuagwa community near the Port Harcourt International Airport.
During another attack, six persons were killed in Omuoda, five in Omuigwe, One in Omuvhiolu and another six person killed in Omuahunwo community all in Aluu clan.
Same Friday night two persons were killed at Ogbodo, Isiokpo community in Ikwerre local government area and Rumuakunde, in Emohua local government area, respectively, as battle for supremacy raged between suspected members of Greenlanders cult group and rival Icelanders.
Our correspondent gathered that the body of one of the victims, Mr. Future Okparanta at Ogbodo village was dumped in a pit toilet in the area.
A source in the community, said that the suspected cultists invaded the community around 2a.m and operated till 5a.m in search of members of Icelanders but later abandoned the operation and fled when they perceived military presence.
Also, a source in Rumuakunde revealed that one person was killed by the cultists at Rumuakunde village in Emohua community in Emohua Local Government Area when they attacked the community that night.
Although none of the rampaging cultists were arrested by the security agencies, but the men of the Nigeria Army have vowed to arrest anybody, or group of persons, sponsoring, or aiding, cult related activities in the area.
Meanwhile the men of the Nigeria Army on Saturday afternoon rescued a traditional ruler, Chief Kenneth Nwobunwo, who was kidnapped by the unknown gunmen in Aluu community.
The monarch, who was abducted more than two weeks ago, was rescued from a forest in Aluu by the Soldiers. He was later handed over to the community chiefs and elders of the Clan.
The Monarch, who also doubles as Chairman, Aluu Council of Chiefs, was kidnapped in the heat of cult rampage.