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Dispatchline: Ogbogu Town, Egi, Ogba Local Government, Bayelsa State
From: Felix Tuodolo
Date: April 22, 1999

Contents: Setting | Dialogue at Gun Point | People's Demands | Testimonies | ERA Demands and Action suggestions


"These are clear evidence to prove that the whole of Ogba land is being besieged by the military as if there is a state of war. We have become a conquered people in our land"
-- Mr Ikiri Joe (Member, Ogbogu CDC)

Ogbogu community is the immediate neighbour to Obite where a recent gas explosion occurred. Both communities are part of Egi (Ogba) in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA of Rivers State.

MONDAY, APRIL 19, 1999
Egi in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA (ONELGA) of Rivers State appear to be in a state of warfare. It has become a place where the police (both MOPOL and Operation Flush) negatively practice whatever training they had acquired. Just four weeks after the 20/3/99 Obite Gas Plant explosion that resulted in the death of several persons, many are again on the danger list courtesy of men of Operation Flush. The giant French Oil Company, Elf, is again indicted in this case of repression. This time, Sdem Erectors, a contracting firm with Ponticelli Nigeria Limited (a sub-contractor of Elf) had problems with some of its workers from Ogbogu community. The workers who are youths from Ogbogu were short-listed to be laid off by the company. The youths on their part had demanded that before they are laid off they should be given some "pay-off money." But Sdem Erectors insisted that that was not part of their policy on laid off workers.

This disagreement continued for sometime. The company remained adamant and the workers held on to their position. The workers then took their case to the Ogbogu Youths body. The entire youths were got together and on Monday 19/4/99, a vehicle belonging to Sdem Erectors was impounded by the youths. This act, according to the youth leader, Mr. Chukwuma Nduka Isaac, was intended to drag the company to the negotiation table.

This strategy worked instantly. That very morning, four management staff of Sdem Erectors comprising essentially of expatriates arrived Ogbogu community to discuss with the youths. The youths assembled and discussions got under way between both parties. While this was going on, the dreaded Operation Flush ( a combined team of navy army and the police) arrived the scene in four vehicles, fully loaded and armed to the teeth. The arrival of operation flush according to Mr. Ikiri Joe (a community leader), was at the behest of the company, Sdem Erectors. According to an eyewitness, the operation flush men ordered the youths to immediately release the impounded vehicle but the youths refused. This annoyed the operation flush men who opened fire on the youths. There was total chaos as everyone ran for shelter. Before the Operation Flush men left the scene, several persons were hit and left sprawling on the ground and the town deserted. It took some time for the community members to return to the town and rush the wounded to the nearby hospitals at Akabuka and Omoku. Several of the wounded (about 23 persons) were received first aid treatment here.

The seriously wounded persons which include master Okwudili Ajei (15 years old), King Ekiti (15), Miss Gladys Orike (14 ) and Mrs Patience Chibor (20 years old and 4 months pregnant) were taken to a clinic at Port Harcourt (St. Anthony's clinic). The military team had not finished with the Ogbogu community yet.

They returned later in the day arresting ten persons at random. They were detained at the Omoku police station and released later on in the day.

The present brutalization of the Egi people by the military is coming at the heels of several repressive actions by the military. On the 28th March 1997 (28/3/99), eight days after the Obite Gas Plant explosion, three youths -Messrs Ugochukwu Agi, Marinho Okiridu and Uche Azuma were arrested by men of the operation flush team for calling for a meeting to discuss the gas plant explosion. These youths were severely tortured and detained at the Ahoada Divisional Police Headquarters. It was at the intervention of Mrs Chinyere Nwokedu, a former Commissioner that the youths were released after some days. Mr. Kenney Osi, a youth leader from Akabuka was arrested by the police and detained at Omoku for distributing or circulating what the police termed "offensive documents". He has since been charged to court.

*In September 1998 when Egi women trooped out in their numbers to demonstrate against Elf last year several Egi communities were raided by MOPOL (mobile police) who shot and wounded several persons and detained others at a camp in Port Harcourt. During the women demonstration, a mobile policeman stabbed a youth, Mr. Christopher Ozuruoke, with a dagger.

*At the request of Saipem (working for Elf), Obite community was raided on 20/4/98 by the "kill-and-go" police who shot live bullets at crowds of youths wounding several persons. They also abducted about 13 persons.

*The most sinister of repression in Egi is perhaps that of February 1994 when the police unleashed terror and pain on Obagi community. Persons were maimed, lives lost and property worth millions of naira were destroyed. The whole town was deserted for days while prominent citizens of the town were kept in detention for months.

*The cases of military repression are very many. Mr Ikiri Joe, opines that not only Egi land but the whole of Ogba is besieged. .It is as though the whole of Ogba land is besieged by the military as if there is a state of war. All these actions cannot happen without the knowledge of the military government. They collaborate with the oil companies to treat us this way. We have become a conquered people in our land. We are a very peaceful people..


Meanwhile, the Ochi-oha of Ogbogu, HRH Chief Jacob Isaac has called on the Ogbogu youths to remain peaceful despite the provocation by the operation flush team.

(1) NAME: Master Okwudili Ajei
Age: 15 years old
INJURY: Shot on both legs

"I am a labourer with Ponticelli Nigeria Limited. I was in the house on the morning of Monday 19/4/99. I heard people shouting so I rushed out to meet our town youths running in every direction. Then I saw the operation flush vehicle that stopped close to our family house. I immediately ran into our house too, but there was this MOPOL man who directed his shots into our house. I was hit on both legs by bullets. My father, mother and grandmother were all hiding at the inner room. They also ran away through the back when I was hit. After some time, because I had fallen my brother came to the house, saw me and rushed me to a chemist store before I was taken to a clinic at Akabuka. The doctor treated me before I was transferred to this hospital in Port Harcourt. I have not seen my parents since this incident and worst still am not being given proper medical attention - only basic pain relievers and vitamin tablets..

(2) NAME: King Ekiti
Age: 15 years old
INJURY: Shot on the right leg

"I am a student of Government Secondary School, Obagi. On Monday morning, I had taken my bath and was dressed in school uniform and was leaving for school when I saw everyone running. I also saw a MOPOL vehicle that stopped and someone shouted from the vehicle .don't run or you will be shot.. No one obeyed the command and I joined the running persons. So the MOPOL opened fire on us. A bullet hit me on the right leg, while the girl at my side too was also shot. Bullets hit many persons and we fell. This was happening directly in front of my house. Every body ran away leaving us in pain and great distress. Two expatriates who also dressed like the army escorted the MOPOL men. They are persons working at the gas plant. It was later that some persons returned and took me to the central clinic at Akabuka there, three bullets were removed from my leg before I was brought here."

(3) NAME: Miss Gladys Orike
Age: 14 years old
INJURY: Shot at the left leg

"I trade on clothes on behalf of my elder sister. Every thing that happened was too quick for me to remember. I went to sell my normal T-shirts and packet shirts. I didn't know what was happening although I saw many persons gathered. Suddenly everyone was running, and before I knew it, something had hit on the left leg and I fell. I screamed and cried but everyone was running away. While crying, I managed to crawl to the main road. Already my dress was torn and I had lost my shoes and wares. One Good Samaritan rushed me to Gbeye clinic at Omoku before I was brought here..