Rivers doles out N450m to victims of Abonnema clash with soldiers during last election

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  • Indications emerge that those who die on the side of the state government would not die in vain
  • A lecturer who died in Bori as party agent got N200m in October 2029

By Sam Esogwa

The Rivers State government has released the sum of N450m to those it identified as victims of the clash between soldiers and youths of the area. This seems to reaffirm strong assertions that those who may die defending the state government would not die in vain. The family of a lecturer from the state’s polytechnic that died while serving as party agent during the governorship election, Ferry Gberegbe, got N200m in October 2019.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tammy Danagogo, who represented Gov Nyesom Wike at the compensation ceremony in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru local council area of the state, said alerts will begin to hit the accounts of the relatives of those who died, and the accounts of the survivors from Wednesday, May 2020.

Danagogo said the delay would be because of the public holidays but said from Wednesday, the beneficiaries would begin to find money in their accounts.

The state government identified 37 persons that died and a number of others as those either injured or arrested by soldiers. Some of the injured persons stepped out to be identified while relations of those that died came out too.

The state government had set up a high-powered committee headed by the deputy governor, Ipalibo Gogo Harry-Banigo, who hails from Abonnema town, to identify those who died, their genuine relations, and those who survived.

The compensation day was chosen at the end of the exercise as another democracy day seems to get close.

Heavy clash had occurred during the presidential election on February 23, 2019 at Abonnema where 37 youths and two lost their lives. The shooting shook the area and raised huge panic in Rivers State as heavy bombardment continued for hours.

The youths claimed at that time that they were invaded by soldiers, claiming that the military came to hijack the elections and to give victory to a particular political party, but soldiers had said then that the youths ambushed them on their way to Abonnema on election duty. Footage from private video clips showed soldiers moving from street to street engaging in combat with young men.

There were pockets violence and clashes with soldiers on election duty in other parts of the state during the 2019 elections until the uproar attracted order from the top for soldiers to pull out. An inquiry was later instituted by the Nigerian Army but the outcome has not been made public, to this day.

The Rivers State government has continued to lambaste the military for showing interest in the stalemated elections in the state for a particular political party but said God granted the governor victory through the people of the state that he said rallied round his victory and defended the ballot boxes.

He has continued to show support and dole out financial largesse to various groups to show that laying down one’s life to defend the state government was a worthy adventure.

The SSG was supported on the occasion by the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, the king, Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, as well as the chairman of Akuku-Toru local council area, Rowland Sekibo, and deputy chief whip and member representing Akuku-Toru state constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Major Jack.

The Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, Tonye Briggs-Oniyide, was also present to ensure that the victims were compensated as promised by the governor during the funeral service in honour of the victims in 2019.

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