Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has explained that the ongoing operations by security agencies in Oyibo Local Government Area was against members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and not the Igbo.
The governor, who said he had no regrets waging war against IPOB, insisted that he did not order soldiers or policemen to kill any Igbo living in the state. He described such allegation as balderdash.
Wike spoke in a live television interview in Port Harcourt just as IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu claimed that soldiers killed 100 of his members and inhabitants of the oil-rich council allegedly on the “instruction of the governor.”
Although the Nigeria Army has since the weekend remained silent on the controversy, a group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), called on President Muhammad Buhari to immediately order a probe of the alleged killings.
Also yesterday, another group, the Ogbakor Ikwerre, USA/Canada (OIUSA) Inc, berated Kanu, saying it had already reported him to the British High Commission in Nigeria, the United Nations Security Council, the American Embassy in Abuja and Lagos and the European Union Security Organisation.
IPOB members were said to have killed six soldiers and four policemen in Oyigbo under the guise of #EndSARS protests.
They allegedly made away with their guns and burnt 50 vehicles and police stations in the council.
The incident made Wike to impose a 24-hour curfew that further heightened tension when the Army stormed the council to recover the stolen rifles and apprehend the hoodlums.
During the television interview on Monday, the governor described the activities of IPOB as unfortunate. He lamented that the outlawed group had tried many times to use Oyigbo as a base for their operations.
Wike said the #EndSARS protest was going on peacefully until IPOB members hijacked it and unleashed violence that resulted in the destruction of properties.
He insisted that his government would not allow IPOB to realise its wish of taking over any part of Rivers and blasted “somebody” he referred to as minister for sponsoring propaganda that he ordered the military to kill the Igbo in the state.
He said: This is not the first time IPOB has used Oyigbo as a launching ground, security is aware, IPOB has been doing that. How could it have been #EndSARS movement?
“The country knows that if there is one man that is not liked by the military, it is me, because I will speak my mind against them.
“I don’t know when I became a friend now to order the military to go to Oyigbo to start killing people. It is very funny. That is why I said that somebody is trying to sponsor propaganda against me that I am killing the Igbo and I laugh.”
The governor wondered why IPOB would cause havoc in the state and denounced its members for attempting to claim and rename some communities and local government areas in the state.
He said: “Why will IPOB use a local government to begin to launch attack not only on properties, but on innocent Nigerians and the security operatives. Rivers State was peaceful, IPOB woke up in the morning that they were doing EndSARS protest and killed six Army operatives and burnt one. Killed four police officers, destroyed all the police stations in Oyigbo. Burnt down all the courts.
“And you know that when you kill a security personnel, they will be angry and they will never let you go.
“I don’t need to call the army. I don’t have a relationship with them and I don’t have the powers. I have no access to them. Even when the former GOC was here, he never saw me for one day till the day he left here.
“IPOB tried to rename communities through their so-called leader Nnamdi Kanu when I am governor here. They start to change the names of communities and local governments in my own state, when I am governor. They went there to hoist flags like Boko Haram in the Northeast, and you said we should allow that.
“The security agencies got there and in peoples houses, they saw shrines with IPOB flags and Nnamdi Kanu’s picture. It is so terrible that if you continue to allow these boys to operate from there, before you know it, the state is gone. And not under my watch will I allow that.
“They went to a school in Kom-Kom; a school we built and hoisted IPOB flag . It is in the course of this whole thing we started finding out. You cannot say as a sitting governor, a body that has been proscribed by court, by law and which you have not set it aside or appealed against it, and the Federal Government has said the body is a terrorist organisation, then as a governor, because of politics I will sit down. I won’t allow that. People saying, I sent the military to Oyigbo to start killing Igbo people, it is balderdash.
“We must come out heavily against this terrorist organisation. I have no regrets about that. Even the Southeast Governors never supported IPOB. If me I am not from the Southeast, from the Niger Delta, why will I support IPOB? On what basis?”
Wike emphasised that he does not hate the Igbo, adding that the state had always enjoyed good relationship with them,