18 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – A group known as Ogoni Community Development Network has raised the alarm over what it described as molestation of innocent citizens by,soldiers in Ogoniland.
A statement by president of the group, Mr. Johnson Kuele, alleged that on March 11, soldiers molested some female traders in Biara community and destroyed their petty trade wares as well as destroyed and shut a football viewing centre in Yeghe community, all in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Kuele said the group considered the harassment, abuses and molestation of civilians as disturbing, unacceptable and urged the army to focus mainly on checks to prevent arms movement and crime.
He said the group was collecting more information on the activities of soldiers recently deployed to Ogoniland and will continue to give updates on cases of abuse by the Nigerian military.
The statement read: “Following the deployment of soldiers to Ogoniland to curb increasing insecurity created by some gangs, there had been reports of molestation of innocent citizens going about their daily activities.
“On Saturday March 11, soldiers reportedly molested women along the Biara axis in Gokana local government area while they peacefully conducted their petty trade business at about 7 pm. The women were reported to be sellers of fried yams, plantain, rice and other food items. On the same day, soldiers were reported to have destroyed the petty trade business of one Mrs. Comfort around the Community Secondary School in Yeghe, also in Gokana local government area.
“Football viewing centres were forced to shut down and in one centre, precisely in Yeghe, the television used for viewing football matches was taken away by soldiers. One victim who was detained, and prefers not to be named for fear of persecution, said he got bail with the sum of N30,000 on Monday morning after he was arrested from his shop in Nwe-ol in Gokana local government.”
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Army 6th Division, Port Harcourt, Lt. Col. Aminu Ilyasu, proved abortive as text messages sent to his mobile phone was not replied.