Ugborodo: Militia Youths Engage Navy Personnel In Gun Battle, Injure Two
The two Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta personnel have been reportedly injured in a renewed crisis in Ugborodo, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
THEWILL learnt that irate youths from the community, brandishing dangerous weapons allegedly engaged the navy personnel who are on escort duty in the Ode-Ugborodo in a gun battle following fear that the Navy were out to witch-hunt them.
Though the number of casualties on the side of the community could not be ascertained, security sources said that at least two navy personnel were injured in the trouble which broke out over the attempt by the Navy to resettle displaced persons back to the community.
It could be recalled that the two warring factions in the troubled community led by Chief Thomas Ereyitomi/Chief Ayeri Emami and Hon David Tonwe/Dr. Alex Ideh had few weeks ago agreed on the militarisation of the area to enable the Navy resettle the IDPs as well as maintain peace in the area.
Notwithstanding, the faction led by Tonwe, had in the past insisted that some persons from the other side would not be allowed back into Ugborodo until they perform some appeasement rites for allegedly violating the community.
Sources said that the militia youths from Ode-Ugborodo had stormed where the Navy personnel were stationed around 2am in a bid to expel them after the Navy deployed gunboats in the area as part of the peace measures .
The irate youths, according to sources, had reportedly confronted the Navy personnel deployed to the area under the pretext that they had received report that they were deployed by the group controlled by Ereyitomi/Emami.
A community source perceived to be loyal to the Ereyitomi/Emami faction, Mr. Alex Eyengho, expressed disappointment over the inability of the Navy to contain the rampaging youths in Ugborodo , saying had it been that the IDPs were with the Navy personnel, it would have been suicidal for them.
He said that the Navy personnel were ambushed by the 'militia youths,' adding that the Navy had displayed its weakness in handling the resettlement of the IDPs.
'Assuming the displaced persons have gone back, it would have been suicidal for them. The Navy would have exposed them to attack from the violent youths.
'If Navy cannot secure their own lives, how can they secure other persons lives? Each time they go there, they hastily and sheepishly run out of the place, chased out by civilian criminal elements. This was a decision reached by all stakeholders for militarisation of the place.
'If they don't have the capacity to do the needful, they should own up and seek help from the army. This is the third time the youths are chasing out the Navy,' Eyengho said.
But a source loyal to the Tonwe's faction, Mr. Femi Uwawah, disagreed over the alleged skirmishes in Ugborodo, saying there was no gun battle in the community as alleged.
According to him; 'There was no fighting. There was little skirmish. The youths got reports that some people want to use the military to witch-hunt them. So they peacefully asked them to leave at about 2am.
Continuing, Uwawah said; 'Navy Captain Gemu was complaining that two of his men were injured , but we have not been able to ascertain that.
'But as I am talking to you now, we are going to Ugborodo to calm the situation, to let the people know that the military are not there to witch hunt anybody but to maintain law and order.
'There are also complaints from some elders that the youths have taken over the community and no longer listen to them any longer. We are telling them (the elders) that it is not so. It is just the previous attacks they are trying to avoid and they are just being extra careful.'
Uwawah however said; 'Ugborodo leaders are ready for peace. We have decided to work together based on the Governor's advice that we should live together. We have told our brothers that are displaced to come home. We are prepared to ensure that lasting peace returns.'
When contacted on telephone, Commanding Officer, NNS Delta, Capt. Musa Gemu, confirmed the attack on his men, saying that two were injured but declined further comments.
He however said he would give a clear statement at the appropriate time just as the Ugborodo EPZ Interface Committee Chairman, Austin Oborogbeyi, also declined comment.