OPINION: ENDING RIVERS KILLINGS: THE ANDONI EXPERIENCE- IWOR ROMGBO OBI - The Galaxy Times | No.1 News hub in Rivers State and Nigeria

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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

OPINION: ENDING RIVERS KILLINGS: THE ANDONI EXPERIENCE- IWOR ROMGBO OBI




    "For the laws of nature (as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others as we would be done to) of themselves, without the terror of some power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge and the likes". -Thomas Hobbes.




In recent time there has been widespread reports in both the mainstream and social media platforms of mass killings in Rivers State, one of the most viable state in the country and the oil capital of the nation, it is popularly referred to as the Treasure Base of the Nation. But, what happens if the treasure base of a nation becomes the epicentre of violence, should the nation sleep?

The killings in Rivers State have been widely considered to be cult related and politically induced, whichever form of argument you align with doesn't justify why people should be killed in the manner they are being killed, no matter how you look at things, you will agree with me that killing is non-biblical and immoral and totally wrong, hence the need to proffer solutions to how the crisis can be put to an end. In this article, we shall be using the Andoni cult related killings as a case study of how these acts are carried out and what can be done to stop them. I hope that this piece will not incite anyone.

 For proper understanding, let's delve a bit into the meaning of the word 'Cultism'. Cultism is widely used in Nigeria; it therefore have different meanings, depending on the context. It is associated with a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of authoritarian, charismatic leader. The followers of such a religion or sect. It can also mean a system or community of religious worship and ritual. It may be seen as the formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual. Or as a group of people who share common belief and practices that negate all sense of morality and often involved in all kinds of inhuman acts that threaten human life and disturb the peace of the society. I will align myself with the last definition.

The activities of cultists are no longer new to the general public, what is however new is the dimensions it has taken in recent time, cultists who were known for mere intimidation of people, raping and armed robbery have turned into monsters. The experience of the Andoni people especially those who live in Ngo Town and Oyorokoto communities is one that has outsmart all sociological postulations; sociologists have made wonderful research findings on the concept of cultism and map out strategies that can be used in either eradicating the social menace or drastically curtail it. Sadly, the Andoni experience has defied all sociological recommendations.

The Andoni cultists, with due respect to all Andoni (Obolo) people are new species of cultists, if not how do you explain a situation in which cultists sacked almost all security architecture within the local government area, including the Joint Military Task Force JTF, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS, the Counter Terrorism Unit CTU, the Department of State Security Service DSS and other departments of the Nigerian Police Force?

On Tuesday April 5th 2016, the Ngo Police Divisional headquarters was attacked, leading to hours of gun battle between men of the Nigerian police force and the cultists. The brazen manner in which these useless miscreants attacked the police division is still incomprehensible and totally confounding. It took the police officers hours to withstand the boys, who later cart away two AK 47 riffles and other ammunition in the armoury of the police. Earlier, the same rampaging cultists who called themselves 'Generals' broke into the same police station and stole the properties of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO in-charge of Ngo Division, as if that was not enough they went to the JTF quarter at the Andoni council premises to loot various properties there unabated, items looted include food items, cloths, generator and plasma television sets etc. They didn’t stop there, they went ahead to completely raze the largest fishing town in the LGA which comprises over four communities.

These boys didn’t stop there, they became the government in Ngo Town, every outdoor activity must be paid for, if not it will be disrupted and the organiser will be beaten up mercilessly and must be bailed with a non-negotiable amount, life in Ngo Town has gone back to the primitive era which a foremost philosopher Thomas Hobbes once regarded as “brutish, nasty and short”.

The most annoying part of it is the fact that these boys break into shops and take whatever they want without paying for it. They feed on the sweats of others and instead of begging the owners of the commodities to give them, they coerce them into either obeying them or they end up being dealt with, it has almost gotten to the extent that if you have to have your time with your wife, you may need to go and collect permit from the “Self acclaimed Generals”.

One wonders if the government is unaware of the above, which I seriously doubt because it has been trending in both the social and mainstream media for months now. During the last Christmas period, the residents of the area were forced to sleep as early as 7:00pm, not because the council imposed a curfew, but that the 'Generals' have threatened the peace of the community that you aren’t sure if you will come back alive, should you stay out after the time. The experience of the people of Omoku Town in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni LGA, one of the epicentres of violence in the state is nothing compared to what is happening in Andoni, especially in Oyorokoto and Ngo Town.

The question in the mind of every defenceless person in the area is, are we still part of Rivers State and Nigeria? Do we have a government? Is it that we have committed a crime against the government that we are left to our fate? Why has government kept quite if we have a government? You need to spend a day there to understand what am talking about, so that it does not appear like a moonlight story of the old, where an elder gathers his children and tell them myths and legends that do not conform to any real experience, but whose major target is to teach morals. This one is a practical expression of pogrom, oddity and maiming of lives and properties which is sad and unfortunate.

The Andoni Local Government Council appears helpless and need higher support of the deployment of gallant soldiers to the area, there is therefore, an urgent need for a military base to be permanently stationed in Ngo and Oyorokoto and a Naval base to monitor the waterways, since it is a riverine environment. It will be proper that both the men of the JTF and the Navy be assigned to base in the warring communities to check the excesses of these cultists, before they kill every single soul in the affected communities. This is not time to apportion blames on the possible causative factors, what is urgently needed in the interim is a serious security onslaught on the vagabonds (pardon my choice of words).

On the long term, the traditional rulers of the affected area must see it, as an obligation to continuously sensitise youths of the area to stop indulging in all forms of social vices. At the family level, parents must endeavour to properly train their children and like Proverbs 6:1 says "Train up your children in the way of the Lord, so that when they grow up they will not depart from it".

The political leaders from the area must also engage in serious stakeholder meetings and organise open air symposiums in which youths will converge and be taught about the need to be responsible citizens who should be useful to their selves and to the society. Empowerment seminars and workshops should also be organised to get these youths out of the streets and give them ample opportunity to be gainfully employed. For it is commonly said that “an idle mind is the devil's workshop”.

The council should also ensure that when the security personnel’s are properly taken care of, if need be financial and logistic support should be provided for them to boost their morale and enable them function efficiently and effective. For it is absolutely essential that a man who is endangering his life for the society to be in peace shouldn’t be poorly equipped, so as not to compromise his duties.

The earlier the Rivers State government intervenes in the Andoni security situation, the better as more lives and properties are at risk of being lost to the cultists who appear unperturbed and intimidated. His Excellency, Gov Nyesom Ezenwo Wike will need to personally visit Ngo Town and Oyorokoto and see things for himself, to regain the lost confidence the Andoni people now have on the government, for when a government loss confidence of the citizens, it leads to illegitimacy of the government and create some kind of political apathy, anarchy and threatens the sovereignty of the state, the time to stop the Andoni massacre is now!!! Let urgent action be taken to save the lives of Rivers people.

The same method proffered above for the Andoni security crisis can be used in other parts of Rivers State. The responsibility of keeping the state peaceful is not just that of the government but of all citizens, let's join hands and make the state peaceful and greater together.


Iwor Romgbo Obi

Journalist/Activist

Port Harcourt.

iworromgbo@gmail.com


N/B: The peace of the communities has been restored temporarily, but some of the suggestions made remains relevant till date. This article was first published on: Wednesday 6th, April 2016. So within the last 4 months some of the opinions have been implemented, while others are not. It is my hope that this doesn't incite anyone, but reveals the heinous activities that those cultists did in our communities, using it as a case study to that of other communities in the state.

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