The untold story of the February 23, 2019, presidential election violence in Abonnema
Abonnema is my home town and my community, Rivers State is my State. The narrative of the violence and the killings of the indigenes of Abonnema that took place the headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area is different from the narrative been pushed out by the media since Saturday the 23 February 2019.
Indigenes of Abonnema woke on Saturday the 23 February like many other Nigerians the ready to perform their civic, constitutional and democratic duties, which was to get accredited, vote for the candidate of their choice.
Shockingly what played out was very different, instead indigenes of Abonnema were confronted with an invasion of thugs, mercenaries who are clearly not indigenes of Abonnema.
According to information l received the confidence and cover the invading thugs operated under was from the military and Abonnema indigenes loyal to the Federal Government for political positions and appoints.
For the first time in 20 years of this democracy l changed my voting location to Port Harcourt.
I was at my polling unit when l started getting calls from my siblings who went home on the 22 February to vote and from other members of my family asking me to call home. I received a video on my phone of the shootings and killings of my people.
After several frantic calls with the sound of gunshots in the background. What was unleashed and transpired was exactly what happened in Okirika, where military and police hijacked election materials and absconded with same.
The youths and people of Abonnema have constitutional, human and democratic rights to vote for a candidate of their choice, the plan to deny the people and disenfranchise them their right to vote lead to the siege of the town and the murders of innocent indigenes of Abonnema.
Mayhem was unleashed on the community by the imported political thugs. From the information coming out of Abonnema elections through my contacts INEC was unable to distribute electoral materials, dead bodies were lying In the streets In Abonnema.
By dusks the town was under lock down, no one could go in or come out.
In the morning of the 24 February 2019 the military sent in more personnel over 300 men, when they arrived some indigenes were in church, they were ordered to stop their worship and go home.
The military proceeded to go house by house breaking down doors, shooting, beating up young men arresting them, maltreating, torturing innocent young men, humiliating and terrorizing the community of majorly old men and women and children, ransacking and destroying homes and properties.
As at the time of writing this piece in the afternoon of Sunday 24 February Abonnema was still in lockdown.
The information l have received says over 70 males ages from 14 to 30years have been arrested and taken out of Abonnema by the invading and occupying Nigeria army.
The Nigeria Army has a record of invading, terrorizing, torturing, destroying burning down communities and killing indigenes of communities, especially Ijaw communities.
Odi and Gbaramatu comes to mind at the least provocation.
Abonnema people wishes to remind the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Army that we are equal citizens of Nigeria we have constitutional and human rights guaranteed by international protocols, the killings, intimidation, and disenfranchisement of the people runs contrary to basic AU, UN, and other International conventions, and that we have a right to demand international sanctions like the US Magnitsky Act. Rule of Law Accountability Act 2012.
It is not lost to us as a people that most of the atrocities of killings in the 2019 presidential elections in Rivers State have been against the Riverine people of Rivers State, this is a planned genocide against the People of Rivers State.
The Riverine people have a right like other indigenous peoples to stay alive and Cho the Leader their choice and it does not have to be the ruling party at the Federal level.
I call on President Buhari to without delay withdraw the Nigeria Army from Abonnema, Abonnema did not declare war on Nigeria and is not at war with or against Nigeria.
Annkio Briggs writes from Port Harcourt.