Thursday, May 30, 2024

Rivers police families will get N20m compensation in local unrest pinned on IPOB

The police and the Rivers government have produced no evidence that IPOB is complicit in the recent attacks or that locals killed were IPOB members.

• October 29, 2020
Police station
Photo of Police station attacked in Oyigbo, Rivers State used to illustrate the story (Credit: @OurPortHarcourt)

The Rivers government will pay N20 million in compensation to the families of each security agent killed in localised violence in Oyigbo this month. Similar compensation for other victims has not been announced.

Last week, clashes occurred in Oyigbo between police and people assumed to be associated with the pro-Biafra separatist group IPOB. Three police stations and one high court were destroyed. Police say seven people, including police officers, were burnt to death.

Governor Nyesom Wike has said the government will rebuild the police stations and support a full investigation into the attacks.

He told police officers at their state headquarters yesterday, “The state government will support the police to make sure that all IPOB members who masterminded the killing of the policemen and soldiers, as well as the wanton destruction of police stations in Oyigbo are apprehended to face the full wrath of the law.”

The #EndSARS uprising in Nigeria this month has led to opportunist acts of violence in many parts of the country. These include arson, prison breaks, robbery, pillaging and street fights in states such as Edo, Kwara and Lagos. Culprits have mostly been unidentified.

In Oyigbo, police ascribe the violence to IPOB and the state government agrees that the group is culpable. Mr. Wike has made an executive order proscribing the group, which a federal high court had already proscribed in 2018.

However, the police and the Rivers government have produced no evidence that IPOB is complicit in the recent attacks or that locals killed were IPOB members. Authorities have not coherently informed the public about the nature of this local unrest.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wike proclaimed a 24-hour curfew in Oyigbo last week and 21 people linked to IPOB were arrested on Monday.

Many residents of Oyigbo come from the southeast because Oyigbo shares a boundary with Aba in Abia state. Also, the people of Oyigbo speak a language related to Igbo.

Given the nature of that relationship between Oyigbo locals and the Igbo people, there is common belief that IPOB has a substantial presence in Oyigbo and that the group’s activities there may be extremist. 

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