Army arrests 17 suspected cultists, robbers
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Tragedy once again struck in parts of Rivers State yesterday as five persons were killed in the state.
Two civilian security men were hacked to death at the premises of the state High Court Complex, Port Harcourt while three other persons were shot dead at Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of the state.
This came as the Nigerian Army said it has arrested 17 suspected cultists and armed robbers alleged to have carried out several killings and theft in Rivers.
THISDAY gathered that the assailants who visited the Rivers Judiciary Complex attacked three civilian security guards who were on night duty with machete and axes.
Two of the victims died on the spot while one, who was also heavily inflicted with machete cuts, was rushed to a health facility where he is now receiving treatment.
A female security guard, who did not wish to be named, said the victims were killed with machete and axes.
She stated that the killers had gained entrance into the court premises through the gate while the guards were asleep and pounced on them with the weapons.
The Chief Security Officer in charge of the judiciary complex, Mr. Batubo Douglas, confirmed that the victims were hacked to death with sticks, machetes and axes.
Douglas expressed regret that there was no armed security personnel in the complex when the incident took place.
He decried the security challenges at the complex, noting that the administrative body of the judiciary had applied to the police to deploy its men in the area.
He said the request was approved just on Monday, adding that the operatives were yet to resume duty before the incident took place.
His words: “We have not seen this level of security challenge before, where killers will invade a public establishment and kill people with machetes and axes.
“We applied to the police to give us police and the request was approved yesterday (Monday) and in the night this thing happened.
“When the incident took place there was no armed security operative around.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ahmad Muhammad (DSP), confirmed the incident and said investigation into the killings had commenced.
All activities at the Rivers State Judiciary were grounded yesterday as the court complex was under lock-and-key following the killing.
In Bori, yet-to-be-identified gunmen on Monday night shot and killed one Mr. Charles Otukpor, and two others.
The trio were said to have been shot dead by gunmen, who were riding on a motorcycle along the popular Polytechnic Road in the traditional headquarters of Ogoni ethnic nationality.
Otukpor was said to be a staff of the Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, while one of the two others, identified as Nekabari is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ward 1, Khana local government area of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muhammad, also confirmed the killing of the three persons.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said yesterday that it had arrested 17 suspected cultists and armed robbers alleged to have carried out several killings and theft in Rivers.
The Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Capt. Eli Lazarus, presented the suspects, arms and ammunition to journalists in Port Harcourt.
He said several arms and live ammunition were seized during its raid aimed at stopping the current wave of killings and armed robbery in the state.
He said: “Following heightened criminal activities, the 2 Brigade Army conducted several raid operations on criminals and cultists’ hideouts in the state.
“These operations led to the recovery of several weapons including 16 AK 47 rifles, five General Purpose Machine guns and two Fabrique National rifles.
“Others are six Pump Action rifles, three G-3 rifles, 11 Short Dane guns, six locally made pistols, two Beretta pistols, two Revolver pistols and nine pieces of dynamite.”
Lazarus said live ammunition seized from the suspects were three G-3 magazines, 11 Fabrique National magazines, 15 AK-47 rifle magazines and 508 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition.
He listed other ammunition to include 313 rounds of 7.62mm (special) ammunition, 14 rounds of 0.9mm ammunition and three cartridges.
The army spokesman said troops also recovered from the suspects, military boots, belts, three lanyards and one fragmental jacket.
“The operations were conducted at Ahoada East, Ogbogoro community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; Omoku in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Isiokpo in Ikwerre LGA,” he said.
Lazarus said the operation would continue until other cultists, kidnappers, armed robbers are either arrested or chased out from the state.
He called on members of the public to provide security agencies with timely information that would lead to arrest of criminals in the state and in its environs.