A joint taskforce of army and police has now taken over 24 hour regular patrol of the Anambra /Kogi states border axis, as tension in the area heightened since last week.
The fresh communal crisis between Enugu-Otu Aguleri community of Anambra East Council of Anambra state and Echonwa /Odeke community of Abaji local government area of Kogi State which has allegedly claimed seven lives recently has led to the shutting down of the operations of the Orient Petroleum Resources Plc (OPR)
This, according to the Managing Director, Engr Emeka Nwawka was to protect the lives of their workers. “What we did was to protect our workers and for them to remain indoors while awaiting the two state governments to sort out the situation for us to go back to full operations.”
Senator Emma Anosike had earlier averted a planned reprisal attacks by youths from both sides of the crises who were said to have recruited some mercenaries for the move. They were alleged to have targeted the installations/facilities at Orient Petroleum Resources site, the home of community leaders in both communities, before the intervention of Senator Anosike.
Already work at Orient Petroleum Resources (OPR) has been severely disrupted after it picked up from the recent disastrous flood. Some workers of the company have been seen evacuating the area and staff of servicing firms commenced evacuation since Sunday when the tension peaked.
Speaking with the Anambra State Commissioner of Police Mr. Bala Nassarawa, he dismissed the reports about killings contending that what was in the area were mere apprehensions.
He however confirmed that a joint police and Army patrol team has taken over the area with Special routine patrol at major flash points with Anambra and Kogi State axis.
“There is nothing like killings and burning of houses but what is going on in that area is mere apprehensions. As I speak to you now we have joint police and army patrol and officers and men have taken over major flash points where hoodlums would always want to strike. And I must tell you that the area is calm and our men are up to their responsibilities.
Nassarawa however denied if the crisis had anything to do with the controversy over which of the states own the Oil and Gas deposit being exploited by Orient Petroleum Resources, saying that he has no knowledge of that.
But Senator Emma Anosike who had visited the area told reporters that it is still the same crisis between Kogi and Anambra State over the oil and gas deposit, adding that being a people he had represented at the Federal House of Representatives and also in the Senate, the were able to listen to him.
“The youths I met received me warmly and I told them to lay down their arms. I told them to consider the socio economic benefits of the oil and gas to their individual well being. The had planned to attack some homes of community leaders and clan heads both ion Kogi and Anambra State and the reprisal attacks would have been bloody. We thank God that they were able to listen to us and I also promised that government would see to it that whatever that is lost is compensated”.
Anosike confirmed also that work at the OPR in Aguleri Otu had been abandoned due to the communal crisis, adding that he and other community leaders from Anambra and Kogi States are going to work in conjunction with the two states governments and the security operatives to protect lives and the installations/facilities.
Reacting to the incident the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Peter Obi on Special Duties Mr. Tony Collins Nwabunwanne described the incident as unfortunate. He urged the affected communities to remain law abiding pointing out security operatives have been deployed to the area to maintain peace.
He urged officials of Orient Petroleum Resources to not loose sleep over the incident as government is poised towards ensuring the success of the project and ensuring the safety of workers and the installations therein.