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Rivers’ Forceful Environmental Decongestion



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Some of the displaced wares. Photo by Odimegwu Onwumere

By Odimegwu Onwumere

By this hour of filing this report (1:50PM), today, 8 March, 2012, some people accompanied by soldiers allegedly from the state government Rivers State stormed Oyigbo, Rivers State, destroying what they claim are illegal structures and setting them ablaze.


What is amiss is why they should take to the habit of setting people’s wares and property ablaze having forcefully evicted the victims. Some residents who do not want their names in print said that the victims who are mostly petty traders were not given notice to quit the places they occupied; they were surprisingly attacked by their victimizers.


“Some of us who wanted to take pictures of our victimizers with our cameras had them seized by the soldiers and they took some persons away,” said the source.


Others alleged that those whose wares and makeshift shops were burnt were those who did not pay money (as bribe) to their victimizers, while others who had paid have their wares saved, though no makeshift shops was spared along the areas that were affected.

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Sunproofs attached to shops along Shell Location Road, (coming from Mbano junction) Oyigbo, were heavily touched. Those that were along the Aba/Port Harcourt Express Road, Oyigbo, were where the burning took place.


An organization, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV), has added its voice to the matter, calling on Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State to investigate the matter, whether those who took on this unsocial act were directed to do so, stressing that if they were not directed to do so, they could be described as those who give bad name to the Amaechi-led government of Rivers State, whereas the man is putting tremendous effort to put Rivers State right.

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“While we do not support the act of illegal structure, we hereby condemn the act of setting items seized from the victims ablaze before their eyes or anywhere else. The act is gruesome MISINTERPRETATION and MISPRESENTATION of power.” The group said through its coordinator.


However, reactions from well meaning citizens is that effort should be made to find out whether the state government had issued warning notice with deadline to the owners of such illegal structures prior to the demolition exercise. If it did, its act in this regard should NOT attract hostile criticism. But if it did not, its act is unfair to its people.




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