Ogoni Traditional Rulers Kick as Army Arrests Paramount Ruler, Gbaranee


Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Soldiers from the 2 Brigade Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, stationed in Bori, Rivers State, have arrested the paramount ruler of Yeghe community in Ogoniland, Barinaadaa Gbaranee.

Yeghe community, in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State has been a hot spot of army operations since they invaded the community in February in search of ex-agitator, Solomon Ndigbara, whom the military has since declared wanted.

Not less than 20 persons were allegedly killed in the military operation even though the army said nobody was killed.

The Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, 2 Brigade Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Capt. Eli Lazarus, confirmed the arrest of the Ogoni traditional ruler.

He however said the army “invited”Gbaranee for questioning concerning an investigation it was carrying out.

In a text message on Tuesday, Lazarus said, “The paramount ruler of Yeghe community, HRH Barinadaa Gbaranee, was invited by 2 Brigade Nigerian Army in connection with an on-going investigation that relates to security within his domain. I assure you that he will return to his community as soon as investigation is completed.”

In the meantime, the Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (COTRA) has condemned Gbaraanee’s “abduction” and called for his immediate release.

The Chairman of COTRA, King Suanu Baridam, in a statement issued yesterday said, “We consider the abduction of Chief T.D. Gbaranee a desecration of the highly respected traditional institution and strongly reject the humiliation of an Ogoni traditional stool by the Army.