A native of Ekporo Community, Mr. Amadi Okondowi Godwin, who went for farming narrowly, escaped death when youths allegedly from rival Ogu community shot at him in what sources described as an attempt to reclaim Ekporo land.
The victim was said to have escaped with gunshot wounds, however, three other members of the community who also went to Ekporo for farming were not so lucky as they have been reported missing as at the time of filing this report.
In an interview with Inside Eleme, Paramount Ruler of Ekporo, His Royal Highness, Emere Samuel Obe who himself has been on exile since five years confirmed the recent attack and called on the governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Nyesom Wike to intervene.
He regretted that, each time the people of Ekporo attempt to return home in obedience to the directive of the governor when he brokered a peace meeting between the parties in Government House, Port Harcourt in March 31, 2018, Ogu youths would attack them with sophisticated weapons. He, however, appealed to the governor to provide Ekporo people with infrastructures such as schools, roads and medical centres to facilitate their resettlement, stressing that the people are eager to return.
His words: “As you will know, it is 6years since we were displaced from our homes. After the settlement on the 31stof March 2018, my people started going home to search for foodstuffs, especially their farm produce so that they can feed their families. It was however unfortunate that on the 8th of November, 2018 some of my people went home to look for something to eat as a way of surviving, as you know when you don’t have anything, you have to put hands everywhere to see that you get something in the day.
“The report I got as they went was that some of them were attacked and one Mr. Godwin Okondowi who is a father of two (2) children was shot, the rest three (3), we have not seen them till now. We don’t know if they were killed or kidnapped because we have not seen them till now. The other person that was shot is under treatment now and others, we don’t know of their whereabouts.
“I know the Ogu people are fully behind this, because it happened right in Ekporo village and other people go to the community to do such.
“We appealed to the governor of Rivers State to build houses in Ekporo but nothing has been done, the only place that was cleared was the village square which they used for prayers.
“We are eager to return to our land, the governor should bring in security because even if we go, with what has happened, we are scared so we need security there. Also, my people are dying of hunger, the governor should do something about bringing relieve materials to us”, he appealed.
In the same vein, the Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman of Ekporo Community, Chief (Hon) Jonathan Oluka also confirmed that some Ekporo people who went home to harvest farm produce were attacked by youths allegedly from Ogu community, leading to the disappearance of three persons, but one Mr. Amadi Okondowi who was shot returned home with gunshot wounds.
Chief Oluka who decried the incessant attacks on the people of Ekporo by Ogu youths even after, according to him, the Governor of Rivers State had ordered that Ekporo people be allowed to return to their ancestral home said each time Ekporo people attempt to return home following Governor Wike’s directive, the Ogu youths use to attack them. He disclosed that Mr. Godwin Okondowi Amadi who was allegedly shot by youths from Ogu Community was taken to the Onne Police Division for documentation and later rushed to the hospital.
He also appealed to relevant government agencies to provide the displaced Ekporo people with relief materials to enable them cope with the hardship occasioned by their displacement six years ago by the Ogu community.
“Since 2013, that Ogu chased Ekporo people from their ancestral home, government has not sent anything to the Ekporo people and we are suffering. We are refugees scattered in the midst of the people of Tai local government, some communities in Eleme local government and we are appealing that the government of Rivers State do something to ensure that Ekporo people return back home.
“We are also appealing that relief materials be given to Ekporo people since they are not in their communities”.
He further lamented that the people of Ekporo have nothing to return home to as there are no buildings standing, stressing that the available infrastructures have all been vandalized by the Ogu people.
“If you go to the place now, the place has turned to forest because we have left that community for a long time, no buildings, all the government structures in Ekporo have been vandalized by Ogu people, no building is standing in Ekporo land, so if we should go back, where do we stay.
“We are appealing that the government should assist us as we have nothing to go back to in that land”, he pleaded.
The Divisional Police Officer in charge of Onne Division could not be reached as at the time of filing this report.
By Gladys Nwafor