Reports reaching our news desk suggest that most families in Oyigbo Local Government are bailing out of the area as security operatives take control of the situation on ground.
Oyigbo had turned out to be the operational base of persons suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which claimed that it had ordered the destruction of police stations and other public property as well as the killing of policemen and soldiers.
IPOB claims that it is fighting for the independence of the Biafran people, a group of people who are currently Nigerian citizens.
According to our man on the ground, Chimex Ndubuisi, “Residents of Oyigbo local government area have fled to their various states and other neighbouring states following the deployment of soldiers to the area.
“As at Monday morning, over 1000 families are believed to have left the area in order not to be hurt or hit by the bullet.”
Reports say that on Wednesday last week, soldiers invaded the council in search of members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB; members who the Rivers State government says burnt three police stations in the area and killed some security personnel.
It is known that arms were taken away from slain soldiers and policemen. The army is busy searching for its weapons and their discovery could lead to the apprehension of those who masterminded the killing.
Among residents, fear has become a companion, with people alleging the army was badging into homes in its bid to arrest culprits.
Our correspondent who has been keeping tab on the development reports. “people reportedly left their homes to their various states through Eleme axis while others left between the hours of 4.00am and 5.00am in order not to be caught by the soldiers who are believed to arrive Oyigbo between the hours of 6.00am and 6.30am daily.
“Some of the areas where mass exodus occurred include; Kom Kom, Oyigbo West, Afam Road axis as well as Umusonya.”
But hours ago, the Rivers State Government lifted the curfew which has been in force since the Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike announced the proscription of IPOB.
The decision was perhaps due to widespread reactions from activist groups, including Amnesty International and the increasing cry by the Oyigbo people for a relaxation of the curfew,
Wike had denied that he had sent in soldiers to kill Igbos living in the midst of the natives who are notably from Asa and Ndoki.
He acknowledged that the Rivers people share close ties with people of other tribes, but he said he would not allow subversive moves by IPOB to undermine law and order.
Speaking to our correspondent, long before the Government lifted the curfew, a resident of Oyigbo West, Mr Isaac Onwudiegwu said he decided to leave the area in order not to be attacked by security agents . He disclosed that, he will remain in his village with his family till next year when the tension must have come down.
“My brother, with what is going on, I don’t see my family coming back to Oyigbo next year because we don’t know what is going to happen in the community. How do security agents think that those who took away their ammunition will remain in the community when they know that, security agents will be looking for them”, he asked.
Also speaking, a trader in the community, Madam Ufon told our man, that she and her family will be traveling before Wednesday this week for X-mas season as the place is no longer safe.
She wondered why security agents would allegedly engage in killing innocent citizens rather than going for those who caused the mayhem in the community.
Madam Ufon maintained that, the people of the area have suffered a lot in terms of intimidation and harassment from security agents as they have been shooting sporadically and allegedly killing innocent people on the streets of Oyigbo.
Recall that Governor Wike recently directed security agencies and the Chairmen of Local Government Areas to fish out members of IPOB found within their communities.
With the restoration of normalcy in the Diobu area of Port Harcourt, the Governor announced the lifting of existing curfew on Mile 1, Mile 2, Iloabuchi, Emenike and Ikokwu areas of Port Harcourt as well as Rumukurushi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State.
“However, the curfew in Oyigbo Local Government Area shall remain in force until further notice while the entire Ikokwu motor spare market shall remain closed, also, until further notice” the governor had said on that occasion.
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