Crime

Rivers On Fire, Leaves Bloodshed, Property Destroyed, Many Injured –

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Rivers On Fire, Leaves Bloodshed, Property Destroyed, Many Injured

Information reaching Ibom Focus says that Rivers On Fire, Leaves Bloodshed, Property Destroyed, Many Injured

Residents of Bonny Local Government Area in Rivers State, on Saturday, January 22, 2022, had their hearts in their mouths as some overzealous youths clashed in a supremacy battle over control of the throne as Chief of the Brown Major House of Finima Community, Bonny Kingdom.

Bonny Kingdom houses some of Nigeria’s top oil and gas firms, including the major plant of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, ExxonMobil among others.

The violence forced disruption of business activities for hours, houses, cars and other valuables were torched and gunshots boomed.

Our correspondent learnt that a man caught in the fracas sustained serious head injuries and machete cuts on his highs and in a critical condition in one of the hospitals in Abuja.

An eyewitness identified only as Mrs Ibienye who witnessed the incident said she saw when the rampaging youths inflict machete cuts on a man and left him for dead.

She said, “I was in my shop when the turmoil started. I locked myself up and peeped through the window. They cut a man thrice and stabbed him in his stomach. Some other men came and put him in a Hilux Van. I don’t know if he will survive because he bled so much. He was not the only one that was attacked. One of my cousins also sustained cuts on his head and shoulders. He didn’t even partake in the fight.’’

Another eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity said some of the youths fought with bottles and many passers-by sustained injuries.

The source said, “If you go close to a popular church in Finima, you will see remnants of the ruins. They burnt several cars. At the back of the warehouse by the NLNG Roundabout, they torched property. Those they couldn’t set ablaze, they used weapons to destroy. It was a terrible scene. My car windscreen was damaged because I parked by the road close to a supermarket. I also learned that one Kingdom Brown’s house was burnt. Another, Eric King’s house was partially affected before the fire was put out. Many people were injured. There was someone who had a cut on his stomach.’’

Rivers On Fire

Rivers On Fire
Rivers On Fire

Start of the bedlam

The Brown Major House is one of the 35 houses in Bonny kingdom and among the three in Finima Community; the other are the Attoni and Tobin Houses.

In what seemed like an unending battle over ascension of the throne as the next chief, Sunday PUNCH learnt that the house decided to conduct an election among qualified candidates to choose a successor to the throne despite having a ‘consensus candidate.’

In the contest were two major contenders; Evans Clement Buoye-Brown and Lambert Brown.

A source close to the Brown House Palace who was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter told our correspondent that the chieftaincy issue had lingered for almost a year before the recent clash led to bloodshed.

The source said, “Someone won the election though he was absent during the process. It caused litigation and the case lingered until a few months ago when it got the attention of the king, Amanyanabo Asimini William-Dappa-Pepple, who called both parties to resolve the matter.

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“The matter was withdrawn from court on condition that a report would be sent to the magistrate on the findings and recommendations of the house. We were shocked when we heard that some crisis erupted again and Lambert was crowned king of the entire Finima community with Attoni and Tobin included. They crowned him ‘The Amadabo’ which means ‘king’ or ‘community king’ and not ‘Seme-Alabo’ which means ‘community head.’’

The source also noted that they did not present him to the palace for recognition by King William-Dappa-Pepple. “The king called on the leaders of the Brown Major House to crown Evans Buoye-Brown Chief of the house as he was the one who won the election in the first place,” the source added.

In a video posted by 3D Multimedia, a media outfit stationed on Lagos Island, the Head, Captain Hart XIII, Captain Hart Chieftaincy House, Reginald Hart, was seen crowning Buoye-Brown as chief and head of the Brown Chieftaincy House in the Brown Major House’s palace on January 22, 2022.

It was also learnt that Hart presented Buoye-Brown for acceptance and recognition to the King on the same day and was on their way back to the Brown Palace House in Finima community when some hoodlums allegedly opened fire and restricted the convoy from accessing the palace.

The circulated video and others from residents in the community showed that the cars in the convoy of the new chief were burnt and several people injured. It was gathered that the new chief was almost injured.

This situation affected economic activities in the oil-rich town as a multinational in the area sent an email to its employees to remain indoors till further notice.

As of the time of filing this report, checks by our correspondent showed that no member of staff of the firm was allowed in or out of the residential area on ‘security grounds.’

Lambert’s camp reacts

An aide to Lambert, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to speak on the matter, told our correspondent that Lambert was the rightful person to ascend the throne based on ‘history and antecedent of the Finima people.’

The aide said, “The people that are saying Lambert was crowned unjustly and with a military crown do not know history, and I pity them. If you look at the history of the Finima people, you would see that we have been cheated over time, and now that it was time to rise up, people are unhappy about it.

“Sometime in 2020 – I think in June or July – we wrote to the government requesting to be granted autonomy. When I was growing up, the Bonny Local Government comprised Andoni, Ogoni, Opobo/Nkoro and others, but all these other ones have their own local governments now, but Bonny has refused to grow. It has become a stagnant water, and that is why it is has not been growing.

“This is not a case of Lambert or the other person. It is a case for fairness, equity and justice. When we went to court, they said we were being disrespectful to the traditional stool of the land. How can they say we should go show our Amadabo to the Amanyanabo? Where is it done? It is not compulsory.’’

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On whether or not Lambert’s camp attacked the Evans camp, the source said, “Our people did not attack anyone. How is that even possible? Those are lies and propaganda. They should know who attacked them because it cannot be the good people of Finima. Let me tell you something–almost everyone in Finima support the Amadabo. Leave the naysayers and let us move the Finima community forward.

“We are one people. Let us come together and chart a better future for ourselves and our children. Propaganda is unnecessary. Let the proper thing be done,” the aide added.

Bonny LG chair sues for peace

In a statement on January 25, 2022, obtained by Sunday PUNCH, the newly installed Chairman, Bonny LGA, Dame Anengi Barasua, sued for peace among the aggrieved parties.

She urged them not to take laws into their hands but to embrace peace as the only way to forge a better community and encourage economic activities.

The statement read in part, “The Chairman, Bonny Local Government Council, Dame Anengi Barasua has called for restraint and calm among communities within Wards 1-6 of the Bonny Local Government Area.

“The charge became necessary following the violent incident of Saturday, January 22, 2022 along the Bonny-Finima Road to Finima Community in Ward 5 Constituency of Bonny Local Government Area. Though no death was recorded, the sad incident left many citizens wounded and several property including houses and cars worth hundreds of millions destroyed.

“Dame Barasua expressed shock over the violent dispositions and conveys her sympathy to the families of the victims and pray for their soonest recovery. She declared that such tragedies are unacceptable and cannot be justified or encouraged’’

The LG boss lamented that the incessant rows between the Main Town and Finima axis of the LGA had the potential to unleash uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and should be stopped completely.

“The government cannot allow the situation to slide further into a chaos that would challenge economic activities in the LGA and possibly pose a threat to the economy of the nation at large. Moreover, the inhabitants of the LGA and the business community cannot afford to live and do business in the face of such extremism,’’ she said.

The statement further indicated that Barasua demanded that the cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately and all parties must respect the laws of the country and international human rights law.

She added, “Indeed, violence can never be a solution; aggrieved parties should take their cases before the law court and law enforcement agencies and not take laws into their hands.”

Police react

The police spokesperson in the state, DSP Grace Iringe-Koko, told our correspondent that the state Commissioner of Police had reached out to the parties and urged them to sheath their swords.

“I can say that there was no death recorded from our reports. The CP is on top of the matter and has met with the parties involved.”

Rivers On Fire

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