*Push for return of monarch raises more tension
By Ignatius Chukwu
Bodo is the last community or what they call the last mile in the Trans-National Pipeline (TNP) that delivers crude to Bonny. After Bodo, it’s the creeks, swamps, and the river till Bonny.
This status seems to cause good and bad. NGOs that monitor spills say this causes frequent spills in the area. They don’t want to hear anything called 3rd party infractions. They think pressure is highest in Bodo and pipes burst.
The greater danger however is that groups see spills as opportunity for manna, manna from pipeline. Fights break out. BusinessDay captured the latest fracas well.
Efforts last week to bring the two fiercely opposed groups in Bodo town, Gokana Local Council Area of Rivers State ravaged by oil spill, seem to have failed.
Now, killing and violence are said to have resumed in the early hours of Monday, September 4, 2023.
At the last count, about four persons so far are feared dead in about 10 days in three incidents.
One was reportedly killed in the latest attack Monday morning even after over five hours of reconciliation meetings by both factions in Bodo, Gokana local council area staged at the police headquarters in Port Harcourt, though the police boss in the state said he had no such confirmation.
At the onset of the violence about 10 days ago, two persons were reportedly killed and some others injured when gangs suspected to be cultists attacked youths keeping vigil at the latest spill site.
According to sources at the site, fresh attack took place the following Monday where one person was equally feared dead.
This is said to have prompted intervention by the Rivers State police command led by Abonyi Polycarp Emeka who initiated series of meetings by both factions.
Findings indicate that Bodo, which won huge payout few years ago from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) as out-of-court settlement along with a deal to clean up the town, has since slipped into two factions. One group was said to have driven away their paramount ruler who faced plenty accusations of bias, injustice, and collaboration with ‘the enemy’.
A regent was installed and he has continued to preside over Bodo affairs. This is said to have provoked reactions and violence especially as there seems to be nobody trusted to represent the community in interfacing with the IOC and the government.
The police command was said to have intervened and a decision to allow the paramount ruler return and for the community to forge one common front was reached. Other sources in the community have however denied any truce.
This Monday, ugly reports emanated from Bodo that fighting resumed and one was person killed. The police boss however told newsmen at a briefing that he could not confirm any killing.
He said when he got report this Monday morning about outbreak of fresh violence soon after the reconciliation meeting, that he dispatched two Area Commanders (Eleme and Bori) and the 56 PMF move and ensure peace in Bodo. He said he has not got confirmation of any deaths.
The CP said he spent over five hours last week striving to make peace, saying breakdown of order would be regrettable evidence of time wasted.
Local sources said many were still opposed to the return of the paramount ruler, and that the monarch may want to enforce the advice of the CP for him to return to his community and take back his throne.
Other sources said the regent and his group do not expect to hand back power to the monarch, and may be prepared to withstand any attempt for the return of the monarch.
The CP is said to have said at the reconciliation meeting that stopping the monarch from returning to his base and throne was not a condition for peace because he could not see how a monarch would be made to remain in exile and people want peace to grow on such condition.
This has made many to think the CP was being too hasty in ordering the return of the paramount ruler for peace to start. Accusations are already flying in different directions.
By this, it seems unlikely that peace would come to Bodo soon because the trigger-happy cult-backed factions may continue to rely on the power of guns rather than strength of logic.