A soldier and two personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were killed on Saturday by suspected members of an oil bunkering syndicate in the Gio community, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The security officials were manning an oil pipeline in the area before they were shot by the bandits.
A source told our correspondent that the hoodlums carted away guns belonging to the soldier and NSCDC personnel after killing them.
It was gathered that the development prompted some soldiers to storm Gio n what looked like a reprisal.
One of the hoodlums from B-Dere in the Gokana Local Government Area of the state was said to have been shot dead by the soldiers on Sunday at an undisclosed place in Tai.
A source in the area said apart from Gio, two other communities, K-Dere and B-Dere in Gokana were also raided by the angry soldiers.
The source stated, “Heavily armed soldiers from the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army are raiding, destroying houses and shooting sporadically in the Gio community and other areas in the Tai Local Government Area (Ogoniland) of Rivers State.
“There were reports that a gang, suspected to comprise oil thieves/cultists, attacked the NSCDC and army personnel guarding an oil pipeline near the main tarred road that leads to the embattled Gio.
“One soldier, two NSCDC officials were killed and their guns taken away by the rampaging criminals last night (Saturday). Today (Sunday), the soldiers and NSCDC personnel invaded the area to avenge their men’s death.
“Not all the poor villagers, who are now suffering, were part of the criminal gang. They are paying the price of what they never bargained for.”
The source, who didnot want his name mentioned, stated that the rampaging soldiers invaded the Christ Army Church in K-Dere and arrested five worshippers.
“Soldiers, on Sunday, ransacked the Gio community in the Tai Local Government Area and swooped on the nearby K-Dere, B-Dere communities in Gokana Local Government Area in an operation to avenge the death of their man and the two NSCDC officers in the now deserted Gio community,” the source added.
Meanwhile, a faction of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People has condemned the attack on security personnel manning pipelines in the area.
MOSOP in a statement signed by its factional Publicity Secretary, Fyneface Dumnamene, also condemned the invasion of the Gio community by soldiers.
The statement read, “MOSOP condemns the action of the youth and gangsters that allegedly killed the officers and personnel of the Nigerian Army and NSCDC and called on the youth of Ogoniland to stop such acts against security personnel posted to Ogoniland on official duties to avoid confrontation with security personnel that will lead to the killing of innocent villagers.
“Because too wrongs cannot make a right, MOSOP also condemns the invasion of the Gio community in the Tai LGA and surrounding communities in Gokana LGA by army personnel from the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army on Sunday, June 16, 2019, with a view to avenging the death of their colleagues.”
When contacted, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, confirmed the killing of one soldier and two NSCDC officials, but stated that the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, would soon issue a statement on the matter.
Also, the Rivers State Sector Commander of the NSCDC, Mr Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the death of two of his men in the hands of the syndicate.
“The hoodlums came in their large number and killed one soldier and two of our men. The NSCDC has been on the ground there. We have divisions there; we are in Gio 1, Gio 2, Manifold and other areas guarding the pipelines,” Mohammed said.
He, however, stated that the NSCDC did not take part in the attack on any part of Ogoniland, adding that the corps had begun investigation into the incident that led to the death of its personnel.
“We are not part of any attack. If there is any operation going on there, we are not part of it. We have not received any order to embark on any operation there. But we are still investigating the matter,” he added.