Soldiers’ killing: Rivers monarch begs fleeing residents to return home

NEWS DIGEST–Following the killing of three soldiers in Obonoma in Akuku-Toru LGA of Rivers State, the Amananyabo of Abonema, King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, has called on the people of Abonnema, who had fled their homes to return.

Residents of Obonoma and Abonnema communities, who got wind of how two soldiers were killed last week, fled their homes in droves for fear of reprisal by the military.

The soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen in military uniform, who rode their motorcycles close to a military checkpoint and suddenly opened fire on the soldiers.

But King Bob-Manuel said in a statement made available to our correspondent that the leaders in Abonnema had been speaking with the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army with a view to ensuring that there was no reprisal.

The traditional ruler of Abonnema also maintained that there was calm in the area, adding that the soldiers have been professional in their conduct despite the unfortunate incident.

He said, “Those that have left Abonnema out of fear of reprisal from the military should return to Abonnema. We seize this opportunity to stress that any person or group of persons who are not registered voters in Abonnema should in their own interest stay away from the community during the rescheduled elections of March 9, 2019.

“The community will hand over such persons to the police to face the full weight of the law. We are speaking to the military; we have had contact with them and we have explained to them that the attack was perpetrated by bandits who are not Abonnema people, but just common criminals, who are looking for ways to make a living.

“But as you know, each time the Army loses a soldier in such a manner, the people will panic and start to run. It is quite understandable that they want to save their lives. We are working with the Army to ensure that no problem happens in Abonnema.

“We have assured the military that such people don’t have a place in Abonnema. As far as I know, the Army has not attacked anybody in Abonnema; they (soldiers) have been professional in their conduct. Between yesterday and today, there is no record of them attacking any Abonnema citizen.”