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Rivers’ 2015 Election Violence Probe (Day 5) – Live Updates #RiversInquiry

The River State Commission of Inquiry probing politically-motivated killings in the state continues its sitting, Friday, with testimonies from

The Commission, instituted by Rotimi Amaechi, the Rivers State governor, is also investigating damage to properties and grievous bodily harms to persons ahead and during the presidential and gubernatorial elections in the state.

On Thursday, the Commission moved its sitting to Eleme local government secretariat where three witnesses testified on allegations of assault, arson, and attempted murder.

As was the case in previous proceedings, today’s witnesses are expected to testify on claims of arson, assault, and killings before the Commission.

PREMIUM TIMES will be bringing you live updates from the venue of the proceedings in Port Harcourt.

14.50

Another witness, Austin Ahiamadu, steps out to testify.

Mr. Ahiamadu, the Chairman of ONELGA (Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government) tenders photographs of destroyed APC offices in the local government.

He says as the chief security officer of the local government, he swore an oathe to protect the lives and properties of people in the local government.

He alleges that Felix Obuah, who is the state PDP Chairman, is responsible for the destruction of the properties.

He says that before he assumed office as Chairman in 2013, there were lots of violence and atrocities in ONELGA.

“The first step we took was to arrange a training, because unemployment became problem. ONELGA is the like the hub of oil and gas.

He says 52 youth were sent for training on welding, sewing, and so on. He also organised a peace concert in the council.

He says after Mr. Obuah won a court order as PDP Chairman, he began to flout his orders in the local government.

“We had a curfew from 6 in the evening that motorcycles should not be working. Because that’s what they usually use for crime. Mr. Obuah came and gave instructions to the cyclists that they should operate beyond the curfew.”

He says when they saw that the problem was too much, they sought the advice of traditional rulers.

Mr. Ahiamadu says the solution for the violence is for institutions to be strengthened and be alive to their responsibilities.

He says his government seeks his justice.

The Chairman calls for a 30 minutes recess.

14.49

The second witness, Innocent Ogbuehi, comes out to testify.

He says he lives in Emohua local government and he worked as an electrical engineer before he was stopped by militants.

He says he wants the Commission to help him bury his 59 year old brother who was killed on election day.

He says his late brother was married with five children – oldest is 25 and youngest is seven years old. He says his brother was a farmer.

He says he reported to the police and they sent an Inspector to go with him to the crime scene.

He says the police Inspector was told to handover the matter and all the evidence to the State CID “and since then we have not heard anything from them.”

He says his brother was shot while he was shaving in front of his house on the day of the gubernatorial election.

Mr. Ogbuehi says his brother was a strong member of the APC.

He says one Friday Ogbuehi led the attack and that the Mr. Friday is a member of their family.

“We have a pending land case in our family before the king.”

He says Mr. Friday, 35, is his cousin.

The witness says he is now shouldering the responsibility of taking care of his brother’s widow and children.

“On the 8th of April, he (Mr. Friday) came out to make a comment that the three boys who will kill my brother are in his phone.”

He says he needs money for an autopsy because the money the police asked him to bring “is too much for me.”

He says he also needs money for the upkeep of his late brother’s family.

13.44

Mr. Poroma says the shooters were in their early twenties and “these are my boys who cannot afford one square meal. So how are the able to afford bullets?”

He says he had never had any dealings in the past with those boys, even when he was in the PDP.

He says in 2008 when he came into governance he tried hard to resolve the differences between the paramount ruler of his community and Monday Ngbor leading to the former being kidnapped.

“What triggered the recent violence in my community is as a result of a political leader who is trying to tell people in Port Harcourt that he is on ground and is able to deliver the community and even the local government.”

He says the violence has festered because people don’t get punished when they commit a crime.

“My hope is that there is a need for us to arrest the situation whereby the police will do what they are supposed to do.”

The Chairman tells Mr. Poroma to go and provide documents he had promised to tender before the Commission.

13.28

He says “not less than” ten girls are raped every day in the state mostly by gangs.

He says the rape cases are not really political.

He says the man (Mr. Lekia) who was shot to death at his home had not been buried.

“The shooting took place around 6 a.m, even before the election took place. The police did not show up until about 2:30 p.m. So the body was right there in my house.

“At the time the incident took place, I called the DPO and he said he had been transferred. This thing happened in the morning, he was transferred in the evening.

“I now sent someone to go and report to the station because I did not have the number of the new DPO. The DCO did not come until 2:30 p.m.”

Mr. Poroma says he lived abroad and only returned to Nigeria when Governor Amaechi entered office.

He says there were no INEC presence in his community on the two election days but results were declared.

He says the shooting started weeks before the election.

“I went to the king, we met with the DPO and a joint meeting was called between the APC and PDP leadership and we were made to sign a peace accord. To be responsible for any violence caused by any of our groups.

“Not quite three days afterwards, there were gun shots all over the community. Unfortunately, it’s a community where young boys carry guns.”

He says on March 27th, there was a meeting at his home and they agreed that party agents should report to his house early Saturday morning to collect their tags before moving to their respective polling units.

He describes as unfortunate the failure of the police to respond immediately ro his distress call, and says the shooting at his home lasted for over 30 minutes and it was “the most terrifying moment” of his life. “I was trying to call any number I can remember.”

13.07

The Commission of Inquiry opens with the Chairman, Chidi Odinkalu, apologising for starting late. He says the private hearing “took longer than expected.”

The first witness, Joe Poroma, steps out to testify.

He says he’s the Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation in Rivers State

He tenders photographs, including that of one Mr. Lekia who was shot in the neck in his home.

“The bullet went through his neck and shattered the window,” he says.

He says he is seeking justice for the young man “that was cut short.”

“It’s unfortunate that on the day that this incident took place, it was precisely by 6p.m. I’m the leader of the APC in my ward.

“I want a proper investigation because that has not been done till now.”

He says the gunmen also shot at his Hilux van and generator in his home and damaged them.

“Over 22 houses in the community were destroyed on that same day. They went through houses belonging to APC members, shatter your window, break your door.

“When the police came to arrest them, the trigger man was arrested, and unfortunately they outnumbered the police and the police abandoned them even the ones they handcuffed and ran away.

“They mobilised in so many numbers and the police were afraid and ran away.”

He says the matter was reported to the police on March 28th, the say of the incident.

He says some of the hoodlums were ex-militants and “they have always been above the law. Unfortunately we have the untouchables and they are one of the untouchables.”

He proceeds to name the name of the ex-militants: Monday Ngbor (the financier), Johnny Ngbor, Mwine Sunday (the trigger man),

He says Monday Ngbor is the leader of the PDP in his local government.

He says he was also in PDP before he was expelled three years ago.

He says the gang members call themselves ‘Chief Monday Ngbor’s Boys.’

Mr. Poroma says he doesn’t have ‘boys’ but ‘brothers.’

13.01

The Commission have spent the past one and a half hour listening to testimonies ‘in-camera’ from four witnesses on allegations of assault and kidnapping.

The media were asked not to cover that proceedings for the safety of the witnesses.

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