Ogoni activist decries worsening violence in Rivers


violenceThe President of the Ogoni Solidarity Forum in Rivers, Mr Celestine Apkobari, has raised the alarm over the resurgence of violence in the state.

Ogoni is a resource-rich but restive community in Rivers and home to late ethno-nationalist, Mr Ken Saro Wiwa, who was hanged by the Federal Military Government on Nov. 10, 1995.

Apkobari, an environmental activist decried the rising tension in Rivers when he spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rivers, Nigeria’s oil capital has been tainted by a steady flow of bloodshed since the return of democracy in 1999.

Scores of innocent citizens of the state have lost their lives to cult-related violence while political contests are often settled by the barrel of the gun, according to analysts.

Apkobari said that many individuals and criminal groups in the state always had access to light weapons with which they had been unleashing terror on the populace.

According to him, it has become necessary for the federal and State Government to fashion out ways to seize arms illegally owned by individuals and criminal groups.

Akopbari said the entire state had been thrown into fear, following incidents of violent attacks and killings in different parts of the state.

“I am saying that people who should not hold arms are having arms. We are back to where the state used to be in 2003.

“If nothing is done to mop up the arms in the hands of private individuals, it will be difficult to have a peaceful state.’’

He said it would be unfortunate for residents of the state to live in perpetual fear, following the activities of some individuals and groups.

“What is expected is a collective effort. The situation is above political partisanship, it is about the collective peace and development of the state,’’ he said.