Rivers community raises alarm as cultist demands N500,000 for peace

The people of Owube community, Ahoada West Local Government Area have cried out that the cultists, who laid siege to their community, were demanding N500, 000 to grant them peace.

The people spoke when the Chairman of the Local Government Area, Mr. Hope Ikiriko, visited them at the weekend to ascertain their earlier claims that armed cultists had killed about 25 persons in the community since 2015.

Elderly men, women and youths from Owube recently besieged the Government House in Port Harcourt decrying nefarious activities of cultists, who stopped them from going to their farms.

Following the reports, Ikiriko led a team to the community on a fact-finding visit and was shocked to hear further lamentations of the traumatised people.

The Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman in Owube, Mr. Anthony Osoi, said the community was in dire need of urgent intervention from the government and security agencies.

He said: “The intervention of government is what we need in this community. The cultists threatened that if we don’t give them N500, 000, they will chase us out of our community. Recently, those boys wrote a letter and dropped in the community that if we don’t pay them, we will pack out of the community.”

Also, one of the community leaders, Endurance Moses, said they wrote to the Commissioner of Police in 2015 when the development started but that they were referred to the Area Command adding that despite writing many letters to the command, nothing was done by the police.

He said: “In 2015 when cultism was out of hand, we wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police to bring checkpoint to our junction, Ayubukor junction, which shares boundary with Oboburu in ONELGA, where cultism started in Ekpeye.

“The commissioner of police asked us to write to the Area Command which we did on the 9th of November 2015 and the second on the 6th May 2017. As from that time till now nothing has happened.

“In 2017 their activities worsened in Owube, many of us relocated to Port Harcourt. Why our case is worse is because those boys coming from ONELGA converge in the bush and until now, the closest place for them is Owube Community.

“We had organized Amnesty in the community where we brought juju and asked them to swear and about 101 boys denounced cultism. But one of them in particular didn’t show up because he was afraid.”

But Ikiriko said that his administration was not aware of most of the things disturbing the people noting that the development called for concern.

He said: “Most of the things alleged in the letter they say they wrote was not to our knowledge so I have to mobilize all the security heads to come down to the community so we can hear from them and we have been able to ascertain that the protest is real, that their challenges are real and the experiences started since 2016.

Ikiriko, however, noted that no death was recorded in the community since he became the chairman adding that his administration had been proactive to ensure peace in the council.

He said: “From what I gathered here no death was recorded from the year I took over office. But they have proved a point here, they have protested to government and especially the police commissioner and since 2015 nothing was done. Maybe there was no proper follow-up or they didn’t channel it properly.

“They may not be aware that police commissioners are regularly changed. Rivers State suffers the worst case where police commissioners are changed almost every morning and they may not know why some of the issues we’re adopted, but by the grace of God at the local level we are still on ground. I assure you this problem will be nipped in the bud.”

Ikiriko urged the community to compile the names of the cultists observing that none of the boys in the area had been declared wanted by the government.

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