Governor Nyesom Wike has justified the military invasion of River’s Oyigbo community.
The invasion comes on the heels of his directive to security forces to be ruthless against suspected members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the state.
Wike told AIT Monday morning that he did not authorise the military to lay siege to Oyigbo, even though it is “known” that when soldiers are killed by civilians, there would be reprisal attacks by the military.
“You know that when you kill a security operative, particularly the army, they would never let you go”, the governor said. He was reacting to the alleged killing of five soldiers by members of separatist group IPOB.
“I don’t need to call the army, I have no such powers”, he added.
Wike kept mum Sunday as Nigerian soldiers launched a deadly campaign against the densely-populated community, leaving dozens of residents reportedly killed.
Witnesses, according to Peoples Gazette, said that the military operation appeared targeted at young men of the community, as most of the casualties were between 19 and 35.
Justifying the attacks, Wike accused elements of the secessionist Biafra group of attempting to annex the Igbo-dominated Oyigbo town, a settlement located on the outskirts of Port Harcourt, by renaming some communities and setting up their flags in the area.
He also accused members of the proscribed group of masterminding the killing of security operatives and the vandalisation of government infrastructure during the EndSARS protest.
“Why will IPOB use a local government (Oyigbo) in my state to launch attacks — not only on properties, but on innocent Nigerians?
“IPOB woke up at night in the guise of EndSARS, killed six army operatives and burnt one, killed four police officers, destroyed all the police stations in Oyigbo and burnt down all the courts,” the governor said.
When quizzed on the implications of the military’s carnage on the community, Mr. Wike stressed that he had no regrets. The Nigerian Army continued its occupation of the community on Monday.