Rivers: Ogoni Leaders Rise Against Cult War, Killings

The worrisome cult war and a seeming politically-inspired bloodletting in Rivers State, the oil and gas capital of Nigeria, is now of great concern to Ogoni leaders.

Cult related killings have been on the growing in the Ogoni area particularly in Khana Local Government Area. Its administrative seat is in Bori, the traditional headquarters of the Ogoni people.

Khana has an area of 560 km² and a population of 294,217 at the 2006 census, and three districts headquarters: Nyokhana, Kenkhana and Babbe that formed the six kingdoms in Ogoni Kingdom.

Some of the villages in Nyorkhana are Opuoko,Kalaoko,Taabaa,Beeri,Sogho, some of those in Kenkhana are Bane,Kono,Buan,Duburo Wiiyaakara, while some of the villages in Babbe are Boue,Kaa,Sii, Zaakpon, Kanni Babbe.

Early this April, suspected cultists struck in three Khana communities, killing 12 persons.

While seven persons were allegedly mowed down in the Kaani Babbe community; five persons, including a 64-year-old man, were killed in a cult clash in the Rumuohia and Rumuche communities in the Emohua Local Government Area.

Before that, eight persons had lost their lives when suspected cult members invaded the Mgbuodohia community, Rumuolumeni in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

Local sources however, said there were two versions of the attack on the Kaani Babbe community as some pointed out that it was not a cult clash, while another insisted that cult members invaded the area.

Bright Oteh, Foundation Onuekwa and Junior Kayi were said to be among the five victims of the cult attack in Emohua.

It was learnt that three persons, who were hit by stray bullets, were rushed to a nearby hospital.

Trouble allegedly started when members of a rival group were attacked on their way to a funeral in what appeared to be a reprisal.

Worried by the unending bloodletting, the Ogoni Youths Federation (OYF) has been calling on religious and traditional leaders in the bleeding Khana Local Government Area to wade into the menacing cult war that has led to the death of tens of persons in Zaakpon and Luawii communities.

President of the group, Legborsi Nyorbaba, said the situation was giving the youths sleepless nights and negative impression about Ogoni, adding that the situation also calls for the intervention of intellectuals and politicians who depend on the electorate for votes.

In the mean time, Ogoni leaders have risen to tame the bloodletting monster. They have threatened to ostracize those fuelling the crisis out of Ogoni land.

Cultists have also been given 14 days to surrender and submit themselves to traditional oaths taking in their respective communities within 14-day ultimatum or risk severe traditional sanctions.

The threat is coming as the Police in the troubled big oil state have arrested four cult kingpins suspected to have masterminded incessant spilling of blood in Rumuolumeni, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.

Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) the arrest known in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

According to him, the cultists were arrested during a sting operation by operatives of the Rumuolumeni Divisional Police Station on April 18, at about 2100 hours, adding that the arrest was made in a bid to stem rising cult activities in the state.

‘’They were arrested with one English made revolver pistol and three live ammunition and have made useful confessions. Meanwhile, efforts are on to arrest other members of the gang, and they will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded. The war against armed banditry in the state is on and we can only do better with the support of the public’’, the police said.

Omoni has appealed residents to always report suspicious characters and movements to the police via: 08033312261, 08033396638 and 08098880134.

The Ogoni leaders however, rose from a meeting at Sakpenwa, the headquarters of Tai Local Government Area, warning that any person who fails to abide by their decision should be declared an enemy of the people and treated as such.

They strongly condemned the spate of killings, cult war and other criminal activities in Ogoni, and accordingly threatened severe sanctions for those who harbor these criminals or host their camp.

In a communiqué the Ogoni leaders issued at the end of the meeting, they further resolved that traditional and community leaders, including youth leaders who fail to expose the identities of perpetrators or fail to administer the traditional oaths on their subjects would not only be deposed but treated as accomplices.

Signatories to the communiqué are King G.N.K. Gininwa, Senator (Dr) Bennett Birabi, Chief Kenneth Kobani, Senator Magnus Abe, Ledum Mitee and HRH, Godwin Bebe Okpabi, Rev (Dr) Solomon S. Gberegbara, Rear Admiral J.N. Bakpo (Rtd), Chief Priscilla Vikue and Dr. Peter Medee.

They pointed out that a dedicated telephone number has been created and publicised for each local government area, for people to send credible, even if anonymous, actionable information on any threats to security in their area.

‘’We also resolve to send a high powered delegation of the Ogoni leadership to urgently meet with the government to seek their necessary support to drive the peace process, and in particular, with a view to setting up a Special Task Force to track down and appropriately deal with any person that further engages in such nefarious activities.

‘’We further resolve to convene a meeting with all youth leaders and youth groups to get their buy in and perspectives and thereafter another congress in no distant future to reappraise the situation as well as addressing other issues affecting our people’’, the Ogoni leaders said.

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