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Akanimo Sampson: Militants Strike Again, Sack Firm

Port Harcourt: Militants Strike Again, Sack Marine Firm

By Akanimo Sampson
Port Harcourt

Barely two weeks after carrying out three devastating attacks on the Nigerian Port Authority, NPA, which resulted in loss of lives and property, armed youths in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State in South-South Nigeria, suspected to be militants, have sacked Almarine, a marine auto manufacturing and servicing company based in the Borokiri area of the troubled city.

Port Harcourt is generally regarded as the capital of Nigeria's oil and gas industry since it is playing host to the country's Oil ans Gas Free Zone. The Anglo-Dutch oil supermajor, Shell, dominates the oily business in the country from the city.

However, local sources in Borokiri say the attack on Almarine came exactly 28 days after militants attacked two police stations at Trans-Amadi, a sprawling industrial area, and Borokiri as well as Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, which resulted in the death of over 16 persons.

A resident of Rex Lawson Water Front, which is adjacent to the marine company, who did not want his name in print claimed that the gunmen were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons. According to him, they stormed the area with over seven speed boats through the Okrika shoreline at about 12 midnight.

Some of the gunmen were allegedly patroling the water way shooting sporadically into the air and exploding dynamites unchallenged while others were carrying out operation
inside the company.

It was also gathered that the militants opened fire on staff at sight when they gained entrance into the company's premises wounding one person, believed to be a driver, who was sleeping inside one of the company's buses.

A senior company official is claiming that the gunmen carted away over eight 6 X 6000 Yamaha generators as well as six 75 Horse-Power Boat engines from their show room.

''The intervention of men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) made it impossible for the gunmen to gain entrance into our ware house, where all the company's goods were kept'', the company official said.

In the meantime, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu said it was ''a pure robbery attack'' that has nothing to do with militants. Ogbaudu commended members of the JTF for their prompt response which saved a lot of things.

Already, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Luka Yusuf has assured the Rivers State Government that the armed forces are solidly behind the steps taken by the government to restore peaceful co-existence in the state.

General Yusuf gave this assurance when he paid a courtesy visit to the State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at Government House, Port Harcourt, as part of his familiarization tour to the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, said he deserves commendation for taking the bull by the horn.

The Chief of Army Staff, noted that with the commitment of the Niger Delta Governments, the crisis in the region would soon be a thing of the past and used the occasion to pledge the loyalty of the armed forces to civil authority.

He said the crisis witnessed in the state is part of experiences in conflict resolution.

He noted noting that after conflict progress would be restored and advised all those involved in conflict resolution to be honest to ensure quick reintegration of those affected.

General Yusuf remarked that his visit to the State was part of his efforts to see things for himself and carry out the sensitization process which would lead to the transformation of the army role under a democratic system.

According to him, "I believe that if a Soldier knows his job well, he would be in a position to understand his role as the defender of the nation's internal and external security, and this would be achieved through training and retraining".

Responding, Governor Amaechi, said the government and the people of Rivers State are appreciative of the efforts of the Nigerian Army in maintaining external and internal security.

Governor Amaechi who described the army as one of the best disciplined institutions, commended the men and officers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) for the role they are playing in providing peace in the Niger Delta, particularly in Rivers State .

Hon Amaechi said as a Niger Deltan, he appreciates the problems of the people over the years but believes that the solution does not lie in carrying guns, pointing out that dialogue still remains the best option.

He acknowledged that the JTF is doing a great job and expressed optimism that the end to the violence in the state is in sight while pledging to do all that is necessary to ensure the restoration of peace.



Akanimo Sampson, is the Co-ordinator of Journalists for Niger Delta (JODEL), a media group concerned with the affairs of Nigerria's oil and gas region.

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