by ‘Jola Sotubo
Despite the heavy security presence in the area, a new wave of violence yesterday swept over the Kokori area of Delta State, believed to be the stronghold of alleged robbery and kidnap kingpin, Kelvin Oniarah.
Armed gunmen numbering about 30 and believed to be loyalists of Kelvin yesterday attacked two of the state’s monarchs and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, at the palace of the Ovie of Agbon Kingdom, Ogurimerime Ukori 1, within the town.
The attack comes on the heels of the crackdown on criminal elements in Kokori by security forces. This is the latest in the antics of Kelvin’s men who have attempted gunfire and ritual sacrifices as means to chase the troops off their tail but to no avail.
The Nation reports:
Eyewitnesses said over 20 vehicles on the entourage of the PDP chieftain, who was campaigning for the next Saturday’s Delta Central Senatorial by-election in the state, were destroyed.
Two Toyota Hilux vans carrying security agents were set on fire by the criminals.
It was gathered that HRM Ogurimerime Ukori 1 and his Abraka counterpart, HRM Majoroh, were receiving Aguariavwodo’s team when the armed hoodlums opened fire on the palace.
Security agents, including mobile policemen attached to the politician and other party stalwarts, were overpowered by the rampaging gang members.
The mobile policemen reportedly joined other guests in beating hasty retreat from the onslaught of the hoodlums.
It was gathered that Aguariavwodo, the two kings and over 100 others were held hostage by the gunmen for about one hour before the Commanding Officer of 222 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Lt Col VC Ibeh-led a rescue mission that freed them.
A dependable source said: “It was traumatic. We got there a few minutes late and the meeting was just commencing with the traditional presentation of kola nuts when they started shooting.”
The incident was the second of its nature in about a week since Kelvin was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Security last Wednesday.
PDP Youth Leader in the state, Arthur Akpowowo, who was part of the team, confirmed the report in a telephone chat with our reporter.
He said: “We were in the palace; the monarch was welcoming us in our traditional way with kola nuts when the shooting started. They destroyed cars and left.
“After some time, they came back and started burning people’s cars outside.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta last night took over Kokori in wake of renewed violence by gunmen in the town.
A top military brass told our reporter, “From today (yesterday), we are moving there and we will remain until total sanity is restored “
It was gathered that troops were merely deployed on routine patrol before yesterday’s incident.