Posted by The Port Harcourt Telegraph on
14 boys set out for the Port Harcourt Refinery owned by the Nigerian government sited in their area.
Tuesday, Alesa Eleme. 14 boys set out for the Port Harcourt Refinery owned by the Nigerian government sited in their area.
The time was about 7.00a.m and not many in Eleme where preparations were on to receive the newly posted Police Commi-ssioner new about what was going to happen.
From all indications, the mission of the members of the team, as Nigeria's unemployment problems worsen, was to demand employment from the company
Out of the 14,12 of them, according to what we have heard were really from Alesa while the remaining two were nonetheless Eleme youths from other communities.
At the Refinery gates an argument obviously ensued and a scuffle between the youths and security on guard broke out. Eyewitnesses confirm this theory, saying that at a point, one of the police men on duty whose name was given as one Mr. Bright and a youth aged about 25 intensely engaged each other.
The young man turned out to be Ajiwa Mba Ngei.
It is not known if Ngei tried to snatch the gun from the policeman who apparently had it cocked .
What is known is that the gun eventually went off and Ngei dropped dead.
Our investigations, based on evidence pieced together from eyewitnesses and security operatives suggest that the killer bullet went through under Ngei's jaw, creating a path as it made its upward thrust and blew away a chunk of what was the face of the young, and leaving his teeth scattered about on the floor.
At Alesa and through out Eleme, the news spread like Bush fire as anger welled over accounts which imputed an Eleme son had been gruesomely murdered by a policeman.
All hell let loose. Angry villagers carrying the corpse of late Ngei headed for the police station.On sighting the mob of more than 400 hundred people, police men on duty took to their heels. The mob went to work and systematically began the destruction of police property.
While this was going on, the police in Eleme were calling for help. The SOS reacted, sending troopers on the throttle to the local government.
On the trail of the troopers were the Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Operations, the DPO in charge of Bori, the DPO in charge of Trans Amadi, the Area Commander in charge of the area and the Commander of the rapid response outfit, SOS. Their arrival helped to save the police station at Eleme which could have gone down completely.
Journalists including foreign journalists could not have proper access, but information from the crisis zone show that the police lost ALGON 19, a jeep used for patrols and a Hilux van.
There are conflicting accounts of how many cars got burnt. Although the burning of the jeep and the van are confirmed, eyewitnesses hint that fiver other cars may have gone down.
Police took over roads around Alesa as fears grew the police might be on a vengeance mission. Economic activity were similarly affected as people hurried to get out of harm's way.
With tension in the air local council officials led by the chairman, Chief Ejoh Ngowah Ejoh went into a meeting with police chiefs behind closed doors to find an appropriate way of dealing with the situation.
When they emerged, police withdrew from within Alesa and took control of the major highway.
The Council Chairman reached by the Telegraph expressed regret over the incident and said in answer to a question that life had returned to Eleme.
He disclosed people assured of their safety were going about their normal business.
Eleme, undoubtedly, the third in ranking among the few industrialized local government councils in Rivers State, behind Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, was again in turmoil early Tuesday this week.
Close watchers of public events assert that the placards with crest for restiveness.
Their remark is based on the fact that, in the last six months alone, no fewer than three separate crises with extensive negative effects on public activities had occurred there.
It was remembered, like others, the incident in Agbeta II few weeks ago when several houses went into flames, families displaced with claims about human beings killed or maimed, all still under police investigation.
But, while the above incidents which were extensively reported by this publication may have been traceable to either inter-communal grievances over land disputes or, alleged political insinuations, the Tuesday May 16 incident was yet to unveil its cause before went to the press.
All that was abundantly clear by Tuesday afternoon was that, a fresh crisis brewed up again in the early hours of that day, disrupting every public plans that had do with Eleme, directly or indirectly.
From Eteo, an Eleme boundary community with Tai local government council on the Ogoni axis, a long human and vehicular traffic assembled towards the popular trailer park (Onne Junction) this morning.
These are travelers and residents caught in the early morning riot. Everything was at standstill.
At Refinery Junction in Alesa, a long trailer was seen damaged and abandoned right in the centre of the highway with another four cars of varied types also in similar condition.
The road from there to Akpajo saw scarcity of vehicles and people while most business spots were vacated in Alesa and Ogale particularly.
Travelers who were in the area as early as 8 a.m. could not continue their journey until the police moved in later around 9.30 a.m. to push away the rioters.
An unofficial source said cars belonging to the police were burnt down beyond repairs by the rioters while a youth identified as Ajiwa Nba Ngei died from gunshot in the crisis.
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