It was a dark moment for the people of the Ke Kingdom in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State in Nigeria on Tuesday, 11th February 2020, as their community was attacked by gunmen said to be from Bille Community alleged to be Oil & Gas Task Force.
Locals said the attack was coordinated by Lapado security which is owned by a chieftain of Bille Community, Agbeji.
The community alleged that before Tuesday’s attack, Lapado Security lead by Agbeji misled the military to burn down Kalaekuleama, one of the communities that made up the Ke Kingdom.
The invasion of Ke community dates back to 2001 when scores were killed.
Our correspondent gathered that at about 4 pm, six gunboats allegedly lead by Tamunokuro Daigbani, a.k.a Agbeji of Bille community in the company of two other well-recognized faces from Bille and other men in military uniforms and arms stormed Ke community shooting indiscriminately at the people.
Gloria Isaac Ogaji, a community source said: “This evening, four gunboats plus two other private boats, making a total of six boats arrived our community and unleashed an open fire that led to the death of two. Women and men, both the young and old were seriously injured.”
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Mr Odubo, the Welfare Chairman of Ke Community told our correspondent that “Today around 4 pm, I was in the house when I heard rapid gunfire. I was informed that Oil & Gas pass through our waterfront and immediately, I alerted the D.P.O, Degema Police Station to inform him of the ugly scenario. Within a twinkle of an eye, some persons were gunned down while others fled to the thick forest, two persons were shot dead while others sustained an injury while scores taken by the gunmen are yet to be seen”
According to Mr. Daibi Ekine, “Today, around 2 to 3 pm, Oil & Gas Task Force passed through our waterfront, Later in the day, we saw them returning again to their station, we don’t know what happened, but around 4 pm Army gunboats and boats from Bille came to our community with Agbeji in front of the gunboat, heavily armed including other two men from Bille”.
“How can a military man allow a civilian to carry arms and open fire on civilians? I think the Bille people are attacking other communities under the cover of fighting illegal oil bunkering” – Daibi added.
Ke community indigenes alleged that Agbeji of Bille Community has been using his oil & gas task force position to invade neighbouring communities by deceiving the military into believing that any of his targeted communities is a bunkering site.
The people of Ke have accused Agbeji of destroying and planning to hijack settlements of the Ke Kingdom through the cover of the Oil & Gas Joint Task Force.
According to Chief Barisoma Peters, “Agbeji who is an indigene of Bille has been looking for an avenue to unleash mayhem on Ke.
“I am sure he wants another attack this time around in the name of looking for bunkering camps and involving the military to make us have problems with the Federal Government of Nigeria”… Chief Barisoma added.
According to the chief, “the people of Bille have wrongfully petitioned Ke to Degema Local Government Area, all to cover up the invasion of Ke by them in 2001 and further do more damage to the peace-loving community.
“The people of Ke community has sent delegates to meet with Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, His Excellency Timipre Silver in Abuja because of this same hostile nature of Agbeji and his group against Ke territory, all in the name of wiping out illegal bunkering camps”.
Our correspondent reports that the people of the community are currently living in fear and are calling on the security agencies, the local government, the government of the state and the federal government to quicken intervene and save them from the frequent violence that the people of Bille have inflicted on them.
“We want the L.G.A chairman, Hon. Dr Tony Philmore, the State Governor, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammad Buhari and all well-meaning Nigerians to make haste in rescuing our community from the evil menace of Abeji and his people” – Mr Daibi Ekine pleaded.