Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday dared the odds, by visiting the volatile Bori in Ogoniland.
This comes a week after hoodlums disrupted his rally, shooting sporadically into the crowd. Scores were injured after the attack.
It had been reported of how thugs armed with different dangerous weapons were seeen loitering around the venue of the Save Rivers Movement rally.
Sounds of gunshots were heard by residents as early as 3am. Sources say the action was to scare people away from the event.
Speaking at the rally which eventually held under police protection in and around the area, Amaechi blamed the Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, for allowing militants take up arms against the people.
”The same people (militants) we chased away with the military are back to our state, fuelled by a man called Mbu and his cohorts in Abuja.
“They do not mind that your lives are important. They want to sacrifice your lives just to earn the office of presidency and the office of governorship,” Amaechi told his supporters at Saints’ Anglican Church premises.
He berated an ex-militant who was said to have masterminded last week’s shooting.
”In 2007, this territory (Ogoni) belonged to one man called Solomon. I learnt he came to shoot here (Bori). Nobody could gather. Police could not even gather here. They were being shot at. I bought for the police 7 APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers). They were afraid,” he said.
This time, the rally organised by Save Rivers Movement (SRM) was peaceful with armed policemen providing security in and around the area.
He said the release of the funds would have transformed the four local government areas of Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme.
“UNEP finished all it needed to do and recommended that at least $1 billion was required to cleanup Ogoni and develop the Ogoni people,” Amaechi said.
He further took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan, saying “Have you seen the $1 billion (from the federal government) and they want you to vote for them? It will be a foolish man that will vote for the person, who denies you your rights.
“Without the UNEP report, the federal government cannot develop Ogoni. You are all suffering. You cannot fish. You cannot farm because your land is polluted.”
He called on the Ogoni and the people of the state to stand up to whoever might want to intimidate them for political gains.
Continuing, “I do not want to come back to Ogoni to hear that you were shattered. I do not want you to take the law into your own hands but I want you to make sure that nobody shoots at you.
“They (gun-wielding militants) are all human beings. They are not ghosts. They are neither angels nor devil. They are human beings like you. If a man slaps you and gets away with it, tomorrow, he will come back.
“The history of Ogoni is replete with struggle. They killed Ken Saro-Wiwa (during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha on November 10, 1995).Is the struggle over?
“The man said you might take away my life but you would not take away the idea. You can kill the messenger, not the message. The idea of the liberation of the Ogoni people, is it not still on? I have been part of that idea.”
On party politics, he said: “PDP claims to be the biggest party in Nigeria. APC is the fastest -growing party in Nigeria. Then, there was no ACN, no CPC, only PDP in Rivers State. Now, they have seen another party, why are they afraid?
“Why are they fighting? Why are they shooting? Why are they using policemen? They should allow voting to take place.”
In a solidarity message from his sick bed abroad, Senator Magnus Abe, who was hit by a rubber bullet at an earlier rally praised the people for attending the event, saying violence cannot subdue the spirit of a free people.
Abe, an Ogoni, who monitored the inauguration and rally from London, noted that the successful hosting of the event “in the face of threats and intimidation was a confirmation that the principle of non-violence with which Ogoni heroes fought the then federal military government and multinational corporations was still the best weapon.”
He praised Amaechi for his courage and exemplary commitment to Ogoni course, saying: “the governor was ready to take the first bullet for Ogoni. His courage, doggedness and commitment to truth continue to justify the decision of true Rivers people to stand with him in the defence of our state.”
Source: Daily Post