Barely few days after Rivers State Executive Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike declared the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra –IPOB as terrorist organization in accordance to the declaration by a Court of competent jurisdiction and Federal Government of Nigeria, did the rumours making the round that he ordered the Nigerian army to kill Igbos in one of the Local government Areas Oyigbo sharing a border with Abia State. The trouble with Igbos in Rivers State did not start with #ENDSARSNOW protest but it has been a cat and dog-like relationship in which before now the popular Ikokwu Spare parts market has been asked to relocate to a different location as their landlords had refused to retain them at their various shop. This situation is currently being viewed by Igbos in Rivers State as an affront by the Rivers State government against them as the Police brutality leading to the death of one of the 5-Ikokwu spare Parts dealers late Chima Ikwunadu never attracted sympathy by the Rivers State Governor who they said did not make any public statement on the heinous crime committed by the Eagle Crack team of Mile One Police Division in Port Harcourt City Council.
When the October 21st alleged killing of 6 Army Officers with 4-Policemen as casualties, the Rivers State Governor came out to declare the actions of the perpetrators as unbecoming with his direct allegation against IPOB members.
In a Press Statement signed by Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant (Media) to the Governor of Rivers State said “The Rivers State Security Council is to meet and review the situation in Oyigbo Local Government Area after members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples Organizations of Biafra (IPOB) killed ten security agencies and burnt court buildings.”
On Monday 2nd of November, 2020 Governor Wike held a consultative meeting at Government House Port Harcourt with leaders of various ethnic groups especially Igbos, Hausa and Yoruba Residing in the state where he dismissed the rumour that he ordered the Soldiers to kill Igbos in Oyigbo Local government Area while the state security Council declared curfew in that area. “It is not correct that soldiers are going from house to house to kill. When the IPOB killed the Army officers, they took their guns. It is normal for them to recover those guns. In any case, there are consequences when soldiers are killed. Maybe they are retaliating in order to rebuild the morale of other soldiers. How can I now have such powers to order soldiers on any operation?
Now, you carry propaganda that Wike is killing Igbos. They live everywhere in the state. So, am I also killing them elsewhere? No tribe gave us the kind of support Igbos gave to me, but that does not mean we should allow IPOB to destroy the state. It is not correct that soldiers are going from house to house to kill. When the IPOB killed the Army officers, they took their guns. It is normal for them to recover those guns. In any case, there are consequences when soldiers are killed. Maybe they are retaliating in order to rebuild the morale of other soldiers. How can I now have such powers to order soldiers on any operation?
“Now, you carry propaganda that Wike is killing Igbos. They live everywhere in the state. So, am I also killing them elsewhere? No tribe gave us the kind of support Igbos gave to me, but that does not mean we should allow IPOB to destroy the state. Let IPOB not give Igbos bad name. Any people that allow a criminal to speak for them, that tribe is finished, any decision we take is for the good of everybody. It is not against any tribe. We have lived peacefully with people from other tribes. So, stop fighting yourselves and creating the impression that there is war here. Don’t also make disagreements between business partners appear as tribal war. Allow them to settle the matter as businessmen.
“There is a need for all of us to live in peace. From today, I don’t want to hear Igbo fighting Hausa. If there is any trouble, there is no need to take laws into your hands. Report the matter to us and we will address it” he stated. What has happened is a lesson for Nigeria. Don’t underrate the youths. It was a protest by intelligent and professional youths who have suffered enough. It is a signal and the youths as graduates are getting restless. The Federal Government should ask, how do we use this opportunity to reduce unemployment. My Executive Council has taken action already to employ 5000 youths,” he added.
The Rivers State Governor stated that the popular Slaughter Market located at Oginigba area of Port Harcourt megacity will be reconstructed and handed over to a competent managing company for the benefit of residents in Rivers State. The curfew imposed at Ikokwu Motor spare parts market may not be unconnected with Security reports that it has become home to some members of banned IPOB.