Gunmen Kill 17 in Rivers New Year Tragedy


Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Tragedy struck Monday at Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State, when unidentified gunmen shot and killed 17 persons who were returning from a New Year crossover service.

THISDAY gathered that about 26 persons were shot in the attack, 14 persons died on the spot, while 12 injured victims were rushed to hospitals in the city.

Of the 12 injured victims, three were said to have died in the hospital.
There were, however, conflicting casualty figures. While some sources said 14 persons were killed, another said 15 were killed, while others claimed 21 persons lost their lives in the incident.
It was further gathered that the gunmen had operated at two different locations – Kirigani and Oboh axis of Aligwu community in Omoku, in a coordinated attack.

The suspected killers, according to eyewitness reports, opened fire on Christians who were returning from different churches around 00:20 a.m. after the New Year service and killed the victims.
The Rivers State Police Command described the incident as unfortunate, adding that the culprits must be smoked out and prosecuted.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Nnamdi Omoni (DSP), said police were aware of the incident, but could not ascertain the number of casualties to journalists at the time of filing this report.
Omoni said: “I can confirm the incident but at the moment, we cannot confirm the number of casualties. The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations and other tactical heads have been mobilised there to restore peace.

“The Commissioner of Police (Zaki Ahmed) has launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted. When the DCP and the teams there conclude, we will know the total number of people involved.”
However, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Dakuku Peterside, said 21 persons were killed in the incident.

Peterside blamed the incident on the fight for supremacy among rival cult groups in the area, adding that cultism and cult-related killings thrive in the area because of the backing of powerful politicians, reported Premium Times.

“My heart goes to the people of ONELGA and the immediate families of the deceased. This is an act that must be condemned. The good people of Omoku have suffered enough and this has dealt a further blow on their sufferings,” he said, adding that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, lacks the capacity to tackle the state’s security challenge.
“I have said it time and again that Governor Wike lacks the capacity and competence to guarantee the safety and security of the Rivers people.

“It is unfortunate that over 1,000 persons have been killed in questionable circumstances in the last two years under his watch. He should stop playing politics with the lives of Rivers people and face governance.
“Since the governor is not rising to the occasion to show competence, we will henceforth partner with all relevant security agencies to bring peace, law and order to ONELGA and other parts of Rivers State.

“This is indeed a sad day for the people of ONELGA and the only way we can assuage their feelings is to ensure that this does not happen again.
“Governor Wike can rise above his partisan politics and display the hallmark of a statesman by openly condemning this murderous act and stop at nothing to arrest the criminals,” Peterside said.

  • lord vuga

    The rivers state governor meanwhile is being showered with accolades and awards from within the country and abroad yet folks daily are being kidnapped, robbed and slaughtered in his state like ants. Rivers state only ranks with the north east ( which is at war ) in terms of violent deaths per month.
    The so called “ cultists” are mercaneries armed and used by rival politicians of all camps. Politics and “royalties/compensations “ are the only way the average rivers man knows to make money as they are too lazy to be enterprising or creative enough to figure out other genunine ways to be rich.
    Investors are fleeing frpm the state daily due to insecurity and hostile operating environment. A drive round the capital would proof this as you will see many abandoned factories and business premises. A driving through the GRA one is confronted with rows of empty apartments( mostly occupied formerly by expatriates ) or mansions put up for sale by their owners who have fled the state.
    Yet the governor keeps bragging daily how safe he has made the state. Atimes i wonder if he thinks anyone belives his lies

  • Candidly

    Where is the Inspector General of Police?
    When will this carnage in Rivers State stop?
    Elsewhere in the world, the perpetrators of this act would have been stopped.
    Is Nigeria Police Force capable of containing crime in our country?
    We keep hearing of promotions in the Police Force but crime is ever on the increase. I wonder what the promotions are meant to reward – ill service?

    On the contrary, I hope that failed aappcee masta is not deliberately killing citizens to create the impression that Wike is not pro-active in security issues.

    • lord vuga

      There is nothing they can do. If you were a policeman would you want to die? These guys are armed and protected by the “powers” that be : the same “powers” that control the police.

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  • Trevor Bates

    This is so horrible! Devilish people who call themselves leaders can’t protect the lives of their people. This is happening on a new year day celebration.