The month of July 2019 saw a further reduction in cases of atrocious killings in Rivers state.
According to a report for July by violence monitoring group in the state, We The People, July also witnessed essential interventions by the state government to address the problem of insecurity in the state as well as atrocious killings.
The report which monitored violence in the state for the 31-day period of July 2019, the group tracked and documented 11 incidents that resulted in 22 deaths.
“Only one of the incidents was perpetrated by a state actor, in the case of the Nigeria Police Force. The rest were by unknown assailants and gangs.
“In comparison with the three previous months, there has been a significant decline in atrocious killings in Rivers state. In April, May and June, the death toll was 46, 80 and 26, respectively.
“In response to demands of civil society, the Rivers State government in the period began paying closer attention to addressing the security concerns in the state, especially as it relates to gang killings.
“While there was a marked decline in killings in the month of July, the 22 deaths in July nonetheless reflect a general climate of insecurity and lawlessness which continues to highlight Rivers State in atrocious murders,” the report said
The report said that despite the reduced killings in Rivers State, there had not been a commensurate effort on the part of law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of these killings.
It added that the mood in the state is not in the least focused on de-incentivising killings through ensuring the prosecution of people who commit these offences.
“Beyond the periodic press statements, condemnations and a promises to investigate and prosecute, no efforts are made to ensure accountability and closure for victims.
“For too long, the demand for accountability for atrocious killings in Nigeria has been weakened by the lack of any real information on the victims.
“It seems, sadly, that numbers and statistics have replaced the value of life and the need to account for every soul we lose in murderous circumstances.” the report said.
A Break Down Of The Incidents
On 1 July, unidentified shooters shot and killed two Mobile Police officers in Port Harcourt. The two policemen were escorting a van along Ojoto /Timber Street, Mile 2, Diobu, Port Harcourt when they were shot at close range by the gunmen who also took away their rifles. The officers were in a Toyota Camry saloon car escorting the van said to be conveying money from a liquor distribution company when the assailants attacked them.
While the driver of the saloon car sustained a bullet wound on his leg, it seems the attackers specifically targeted the law enforcement officers. In response, the police carried out random mass arrests in the area the incident occurred.
On 1 July, suspected sea pirates shot and killed Mr Joseph Lazarus, a native of Asaram community in Andoni Local Government Area, and an unidentified young man who drove the boat which they were in. The incident happened along the Port Harcourt/Bille sea route while Mr Joseph was on a business trip.
Mr Joseph’s body was later found floating by the shoreline around Bille waterfront in Port Harcourt. According to an eye-witness to the incident, after killing them, the killers cut off Joseph’s genitals, accused him of impregnating young girls and abandoning them.
Joseph’s wife had a baby only a few weeks before the unfortunate incident.
On 5 July, a man identified as Ade was killed at Ozuoba, near Choba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. Ade was attacked with machetes and other objects as he walked on the street that evening. Mr Ade had just visited his family in Rivers State from Warri where he lived. Before his death, Ade was a non-teaching staff at the University of Port Harcourt and had come to spend the weekend with his family who is still in Port Harcourt.
On 6 July, a young man in his early 20s was beaten to death on the streets of Unyeada community in Andoni Local Government Area. His killers (gang members who hold sway in the community) attacked him after seizing his mobile phone and found the contact of someone they said was a member of a rival gang. They accused him of “spying” for the rival group. He was killed and his body taken away to an unknown destination.
On 8 July, suspected pirates dressed in army camouflage shot and killed Mr Abraham Anthony Alex, and injured two others; Diepriye Isaac and Oribite Ebi, at the Port Harcourt/Bille sea route in Degema Local Government Area. The Bille/Port Harcourt route has been in the news for attacks by pirates and other nefarious activities in recent times.
In the morning hours of 9 July, family members and sympathisers had come to observe the final burial rites of Aleruchi Woko, a young man who was shot and killed by a soldier months ago for protesting government’s neglect of the Nkpolu Road in Obio/Akpor. While in the burial procession, Police officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), shot and killed four people. One of the victims was shot while they were on their way to the morgue to carry Aleruchi’s corpse, while others were shot and killed before Aleruchi was buried in the community. The police spokesman in the state could not confirm any casualties when contacted about the incident.
However, the Community Development Chairman has confirmed the deaths, saying those killed were friends of Aleruchi who had come for the final burial rites. They were not members of the Nkpolu Community.
On Thursday, 11 July, unidentified shooters shot and killed five persons in Mgbuodo Rumuekpe in Emohua Local Government Area. Caught in the gunfire were Amaechi Ezioka, Nkiruka Imo, and three others. Two of the unidentified victims were said to be indigenes of Ahoada West while the other was a native of Abua Local Government Area, all in River State. Sources said the killing was gang-related.
In the early hours of Saturday, 14 July, unidentified shooters shot and killed two persons along Igbogo Road, in Choba, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. The victims were Lawrence Igwe, the Community Development Chairman of the community, and Chief Oriji Azu, the Chief Priest of the community. The gunmen forcefully gained entrance into their victims’ houses in two separate attacks on the same road.
It was gathered that Mr Lawrence was shot twice by the assailants after they shattered some glass windows in the building, where the CDC chairman lived. He died a few minutes after he was rushed to the hospital. Also attacked was the residence of the Paramount Ruler of Choba, Eze Roland Okocha. The assailants only managed to detonate an explosive device at the gate but were unable to gain entrance into the building. Sources said the killings targeted prominent members of the community.
On 18 July, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a woman who was on her way to pick up her children from school in a taxi at the Elele/Omoku axis of the East/West Road. The driver of the vehicle, Mr Alfred Igwe-Amadi also sustained gunshot wounds on his thigh as the gunmen shot their way out of the scene. The incident caused members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) plying the Elele/Omudioga/Omoku to stage a non-violent protest to call attention to incessant attacks and killings of drivers and passengers by criminals.
On 20 July, a man who was accused of practising witchcraft was killed in Asarama community in Andoni Local Government Area. After a neighbour had accused him of sorcery, gang members in the community took the matter into their hands and killed the man. It is fascinating to note that gang activities within the community and other neighbouring communities in the local government go on without any confrontation from security agencies. There is no functional police station in the entire local government area.
Late afternoon on 29 July, a final year student of the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics in Rivers State University, Prince TuakaBari, was shot dead in front of the NDDC Hostel on campus. Sources said TuakaBari had just finished his final examinations when he was accosted by the gunmen believed to be rival gang members. He died before he could be rushed to the hospital.
On 30 July, men believed to be gang members attacked and killed Linus Chioma popularly called Montana Million, a 300 Level student of the Department of Marine Engineering, Faculty of Engineering in Rivers State University. He was mobbed with machetes, sticks and other objects while on his way to school.
His corpse was found close to a bush near the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Iwofe Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, with several parts of his body severed by the assailants. The attack is believed to be a reprisal for the death of Prince TuakaBari who was killed just the day before in Rivers State University.