No fewer than 15 trucks and buildings were reportedly destroyed and shops looted, as irate youths took advantage of the IPOB directive.
– Police arrest 18 pro-Biafra supporters
Tony John, Port Harcourt
The sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday, turned violent as youths suspected to be supporters of the group allegedly attacked residents of Oyigbo, headquarters of Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
No fewer than 15 trucks and buildings were reportedly destroyed and shops looted, as irate youths took advantage of the IPOB directive. Consequently, the State Police Command said it arrested 18 persons in connection with the violence. The tension caused panic in Oyigbo and neighbouring LGAs and paralysed business activities. Also, travellers to other states were left stranded.
Four truck drivers conveying goods from Onne and Port Harcourt to other parts of the country were reported missing after they were attacked by bandit suspected to be members of the outlawed group. The incident took place in the early hours of yesterday.
But elsewhere there was partial compliance to the sit-at-home directive as shops, markets and businesses belonging to the Igbo in Oyigbo and Port Harcourt were shut. Some banks in Oyigbo and parts of Port Harcourt hurriedly shut down for fear of being attacked by criminals.
The sit-at-home order, which is supposed to be peaceful, turned violent when irate youths intercepted trucks conveying goods outside Port Harcourt and others coming into Port Harcourt and set them ablaze. Secretary of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Notore/Indorama Trailer Park, Onne branch, Mahmud Lawal, said two of his trucks were set ablaze by the bandits.
He said other trucks conveying goods such as rice, beans, fertilizers and baking flour, were also set ablaze by the bandits. He reported four drivers abducted by the arsonist still missing as at the time of filing the report.
“We were informed that it was IPOB members that set our trucks ablaze,” he said. “Some of the trucks set ablaze were conveying goods outside Port Harcourt. Others were parked along Port Harcourt/Aba Express road by Oyigbo Timber junction, while some other ones were coming into Port Harcourt through Oyigbo. The trucks were loaded with 30 tons of beans, 30 tons of fertilizers, 30 tons of rice and were on their way to their various destinations before they were attacked.”
He said they lost various sums of money such as N500, 000, N400, 000, N200, 000 and N270, 000 kept in the four trucks of the abducted drivers, in the attack which took place about 3am yesterday. He put the estimated amount of money lost in the incident at N1.5 million and called on both the state and federal governments to come to their aid. One of the truck conductors, Ahmed Musa, said the bandit swooped on them and beat them thoroughly before setting the trucks ablaze and abducting the drivers.
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Mr. Gerald Oforji, who confirmed the incident, said that he was informed that some bandit were attacking residents of the area and threatening them not to open their shops and business centres. He said the trucks were conveying goods as well as compactor machines when they were set ablaze by the attackers. He commended the police and other law enforcement agents for quickly moving in to save the situation.
Meanwhile, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), has told journalists that the arrested suspects who were undergoing interrogation, would soon be prosecuted because IPOB is an outlawed organization. This is why, he added, the Police did not anticipate any violence in the state.